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Author Interview {Sarah M. Eden}

Posted by on Apr 18, 2014 in Author Interview Series, Book Reviews, Inspiration, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

I’m nursing a cold and feeling…bleh.

You know that moment when you sleep terribly even though your body is exhausted. You wake up from bad dreams in the middle of the night but can’t remember them in detail later, only the feeling of being disturbed.

And your baby has a blowout that could have been disastrous had you not had ninja like reflexes.

Yeah, that’s when my day took a turn for the better. You’re laughing, but successfully navigating a baby blowout is the perfect way to make your day happier. Oh, and snuggling said baby after an impromptu bath to clean up said blowout and then hearing him coo to you in gratitude for making him all nice and clean and snuggly. Hmmm…happy moments, people.

As far as the cold, I self medicate with Jane Austen on such days. There is probably some kind of scientific explanation for why reading Regency comforts me, but I won’t delve into the research. Instead I’ll share with you an Author Interview with one of my favorite Regency writers.  In 2014 she’s releasing a number of beautiful books much to her readers’ enjoyment. She’s also a Whitney Award Finalist. Here’s more about the lovely and talented Sarah M. Eden:

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CH: I adore a great Regency, so your prolific writing in this genre gives me great pleasure! What inspired you to choose the regency era and what inspired your first book?

SE: I first began studying the Regency era in high school. I had read my first Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility) and was so fascinated by the social strictures and expectations that I wanted to know more about the time period. I dove in head first and have never lost my love of this era. It’s now been almost twenty years since I first began an in-depth study of the Regency era, and with the knowledge I’ve gained along with the adoration I have for those tumultuous two decades of English history, I can’t imagine abandoning the Regency romance genre any time soon.

I wrote my first Regency in response to a challenge issued by my mother. I had spent a long afternoon complaining to her about how hard it is to find the kind of romances I most enjoy–solid writing, detailed and believable characterization, romantic tension without ratcheting up the steaminess factor–and she suggested I write one of my own. I took up the dare wholeheartedly and spent a lot of time studying the craft of writing before trying my hand at it myself. The book I wrote in response to that challenge was later published as “The Kiss of a Stranger.”

CH: The Jonquil brothers are swoon worthy in the best ways. What do you have in store for the rascally youngest brother?

SE: Oh, Charlie. I am actually really looking forward to eventually writing his story–it should be a whole lot of fun. There’s not much I can tell you about it that wouldn’t be a spoiler, either for his story or for the three brothers whose books will precede his. But, let’s just say, the course of true love does not run at all smooth for Charlie Jonquil. At all. At. All.

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CH: Two books out this year – how do you do it while juggling family and even health issues?

SE: I have had 5 books and 5 novellas released since January 2013, with 3 more novellas and one more full length novel out before the end of this year. So, I guess it’s fair to say things have been a little crazy.

One thing that makes that possible is the slow turning wheels of publishing. Four of those full-length novels were written more than five years ago, while the other two were completed in 2011 and 2012. So while I did have to go through multiple rounds of editing, which is no small thing in and of itself, none of these books were started and finished in such a short time. That simply wouldn’t be possible without sacrificing either the quality of writing or my sanity, probably both. The novellas were all written in this time frame, but at 12,000 words instead of 80,000-100,000 words, that is considerably more doable. When I write the novellas, I do a very detailed and tight outline, which allows me to write them fairly quickly.

Now that I have more or less caught up with my backlog of books, the real time crunch begins. With my health issues, I am no longer a fast writer. Whereas I could once churn out 3 or 4 books in a year, I struggled to finish even one in the past thirteen months. I can no longer physically type (though we are hopeful that will change), so that has changed the process of writing. The mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that comes from a chronic illness slows down productivity considerably. And I have kids who need their mom, who have busy schedules requiring the mom-taxi, a husband who really likes having conversations and spending time with me, a house to run, other responsibilities, etc. I have learned out of necessity to be very organized and to do what I can to make good use of my time. Even with all of that, however, I can see that my publishing schedule will slow down from this point forward.

by Sarah M. Eden

by Sarah M. Eden

CH:  At the Whitneys last year, you wore a beautiful sash. Tell me about your personal heritage and does it color your writing?

SE: That sash was my clan tartan, actually. Shout out to Clan MacBean!

I have ancestors hailing from a small handful of countries, including Scotland (hence, the tartan), Ireland, England, and Germany. I have always loved studying my cultural heritage and gaining a better understanding of where my people came from, how the places they lived would have influenced their lives, what they experienced, etc. That certainly shows up in the stories I write. Longing for Home and Hope Springs were such a joy to write in large part because I was able to call upon my own Irish roots and celebrate that part of my ancestry. I often use family names and locations where they lived in the stories I write. It’s a fun way for me to connect to my own past.

CH: Tell us about your process for writing a book. I once saw an awesome outline (blurred, I might add, to keep up from getting any spicy tidbits!) for one of your stories. How do you work from start to finish? What is your go to book or source for research in this era?

SE: I always begin with the characters: who are they, what are their goals, what obstacles get in their way, why is reaching those goals so important? Without good, solid answers to those questions, there’s no story.

Once I’ve answered that, I work on a 9-point plot map–it’s an overview outline of the story in which I identify key events, turning points etc. in the story, all shaped by the character’s goals and motivations.

With that in place, I do a scene map, which is the image you saw. I write out a few bullet points of each of the scenes in the story and pin them up on a bulletin board, moving them around as necessary until the shape of the story is right. I sketch out any maps and floorplans that are key to the story as a way of preserving continuity. I fill out my character bible, which is a reference guide for information on the various characters. I identify overarching themes. I make a list of significant supporting characters.

Then I take a nap.

Then I get to start writing. I do a more detailed outline of the scene I’m working on, and then I write the scene. The story always evolves as I write and I make adjustments to the pieces as needed, but the characters and plot map are the backbone of the story.

I don’t have a single reference book that I rely on for research. I have mountains of sources, all covering different things. I have a few books that give a good overview of the eras I write in, but to truly write something authentic and accurate, I need details and primary sources and a lot of confirmations that what I’m finding is correct. I have never been the kind of writer who was satisfied with writing a historical novel that only kind of captured the feel of an era or that was basically accurate. I wanted my books to have that truly authentic feel from the very first page, and I knew that couldn’t happen without a lot of work. So I consult with museums and archives. I’ve spent countless hours reading letters and newspapers from these eras, pouring over scholarly journals, pushing through law books, era-accurate medical books, personal journals, etc. It is a lot of work, but I think it makes a difference in the end.

CH: Have you ever been to England? Do you plan to visit for “research purposes?” 🙂

SE: I haven’t been to England, though I very much want to. I have already mapped out my dream research “vacation” to England and Scotland. I’ll get there someday.

I did, however, go to Ireland at the end of 2012, which was a lifelong dream come true. While I was there I was able to do a great deal of research as well as simply enjoy the beauty of the country and the warmth of the people. It was amazing and I am anxious to go back again.

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CH: I’ve loved the Proper Romance series out now. What a relief to read juicy romances without the fear of crossing lines into bodice ripper territory. How did you get to be a part of that new line?

SE: When my agent read Longing for Home, she immediately thought of Shadow Mountain’s “Proper Romance” line. She felt it was a good fit there and so she pitched it to them. They loved the story and agreed that it was a good match for their vision of this romance line. I’m excited to see where this line goes in the future. There are a lot of readers who enjoy a non-bodice-ripper romance but struggle to find them. Having an entire line dedicated to providing those kind of stories is a welcome and much needed addition to the romance industry.

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CH: Tell us how you got your agent. Any tips for those still seeking the right agent for their work?

SE: My agent had mentioned on Twitter that she was interested in representing historical romance. A Twitter friend of mine saw that and responded, suggesting she check out my work. So, unbeknownst to me, I had an agent perusing my website, reading my blog posts, checking out my social media presence, etc. She liked what she saw and, via Twitter, asked if I would be at that year’s national RWA conference and would I like to meet up and chat. We worked out the details, she actually read one of my books that was already published so she would know if I was any good. We met and talked, asked each other questions, got a feel for what the other was looking for, and in the end it was a perfect fit.

In terms of advice for those looking for an agent… keep at it. Opportunities will present themselves when you least expect it. The key is being ready for them when they come. No amount of querying or cultivating connections will get you representation if the writing isn’t there. Work on your craft. Always be improving. Being a good writer won’t guarantee that you’ll find your dream agent, but being a poor writer will stand in your way every time.

CH: What have you been reading lately? Are there any books that really stuck with you growing up?

SE: I am currently reading for two different awards programs. I’m neck-deep in books I need to finish reading in the next few weeks. It’s been great to be exposed to so much writing–it is one of the keys to improving as an author–but has also meant I haven’t done any reading for pleasure in a while.

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The book I remember best from my growing-up years was Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins. I read it in 6th grade and was blown away. I was totally engrossed in the heroine’s plight and pulled into the story. It was the first time a story did that for me and it changed my whole perception of reading. Until then, reading was always a chore, an assignment I did because I had to. But after reading that book I realized that reading could be exciting and enjoyable, even though it was hard for me. It pushed me forward and kept me reading at a time when I hated to read. I’ll always be grateful to Mr. O’Dell for writing a book that helped me over that hurdle.

CH: Finally, here at ADDICTED, we’d love to know what you’re addicted to? Is there anything you can’t live without?

SE: My first thought was step stools. I have one in every room of my house. Not as the result of an addiction, though. It’s really more of a necessity. I’m what’s known as “really short.”

Second thought: pointless online quizzes. I’ve taken enough to know what Jane Austen character I am, what city I should live in, which color best describes my inner child, which incarnation of Star Trek fits my personality, and which Harry Potter character I probably should have married. But this is more of a procrastination tool than a true addiction.

My third answer was Ireland, but that’s really an obsession, which isn’t quite the same thing.

Then, looking back over this list I thought maybe I’m addicted to lists. But in the interest of not looking like a total nerd, I’m going to reject that answer as well.

I think I’ll go with growing roses. That’s probably almost as nerdy as lists, but at least it’s true. Back when we lived in Arizona, we bought a house with thirteen rose bushes growing out front. I learned how to care for roses out of necessity and discovered that I loved doing it. So when we moved to the house we live in now (in a climate much more conducive to roses) one of the first things I did was clear out a flower bed that was ideally positioned for roses, and started planting bushes in my favorite varieties. The arthritis I now have in my hands makes this work hard, even impossible on some days, but I get so much joy from it that I’ve kept at it. I have had to scale back the vision I had for a long row of rose bushes, but I am enjoying the ones I do have.

 

I enjoyed Sarah’s writing before this interview, but now I absolutely adore the woman. As a fellow “fun sized” person, I appreciate her step stool addiction. I have a thing for lists too.

As I was posting images of Sarah’s latest books, I kept thinking, “This one is my favorite,” only to find another and think the same thing. I resonated with the stories in GLIMMER OF HOPE, DROPS OF GOLD, and AS YOU ARE and just loved reading them. Go check out Sarah’s website , follow her on Facebook and Twitter and pick up her books on Amazon. If you’re planning to be at the LDStorymakers Conference in less than a week, make time for her classes too. I personally can’t wait! Thanks again, Sarah, for visiting Addicted!

Ah, Jane

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Book Status, My Blog Posts, Teasers | 0 comments

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I love the comedy and romantics that go on between the lovely Emma and her dear friend Miss Smith as she endeavors to find her a perfect match. A twist on Jane Austen’s most humorous writing is what I had in mind with my own Regency romance (deep in revisions as we speak!!). One of my favorite scenes from this story inspired a scene in my own novel, A HEART SO BROKEN. It’s when Mr. Knightley reproves Emma after her unkindness to Ms. Bates at the strawberry picking party. He pulls her up short, not because he delights in finding fault with her, but because he cares about her and the influence she has on her community.

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In A HEART SO BROKEN, Jenna has stumbled upon an inconvenient truth, something that Cooper neglected to tell her and for which she cannot seem to forgive him. After a summer of recovery she is on the precipice of launching back into the darkness. Cooper’s older brother and her friend, Jackson, comes upon her on a dark mountain road and has the audacity to put her in her place:

I started to protest, but Jackson cut me off. “Look, I know you’ve got it. You’re strong, you’re capable, you don’t need anyone else. We’ve all got the message loud and clear. But there’s going to come a moment when you have to let yourself be rescued, not just from jerks like Colt, but from this whole mess.”

“I don’t need rescuing,” I said angrily. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Sure, because I’ve never lost anything, have I Jenna?” He shook his head in disgust. “You know, all this time I have you the benefit of a doubt. I treated you like a sister because I knew how amazing you were. But now I can see you’re just a selfish, hurt little girl. Isn’t that why you never said ‘I love you’ back?”

“That’s none of your business,” I snapped.

“When I find my little brother wandering around broken hearted, it becomes my business,” Jackson said, “just like it becomes my business when jerks like Colt try to take advantage of a girl I respected.”

The past tense of the word made me cringe, but I didn’t let it show. Everything he said made me want to crawl under a rock, but there was no way I was giving in.

“You didn’t say it because the whole time, you were looking for an escape clause. The minute things got real, you bailed. I don’t care if you get mad and hash it out, but you didn’t ask questions. You didn’t fight for it. You ran away from the guy who’s been there this whole time, holding your hand and drying your tears. And you know what? I feel sorry for you. Because you’re never going to have a life worth living until you learn to forgive.”

A Heart So Broken by Christene Houston

A Heart So Broken by Christene Houston

Want to find out what happens next? Go get your copy of A HEART SO BROKEN paperback or e-book and clear your calendar. Already read it? Take a minute and share your thoughts at Goodreads, Amazon, or here on my website! Reviews are an author’s best friend.

 

A Little Inspiration

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Book Status, Inspiration, My Blog Posts, Pinterest | 1 comment

Kay, so last Friday I got some good news, good news that had me up until 2am writing and revising like crazy to get a query letter and first ten pages as good as I possibly could before my brain turned to complete sleep deprived mush.

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You see, I’m going to this Conference in a couple weeks…ten days to be exact (not that I’m counting!!!). When I signed up for LDStorymakers, my goal was to register the moment I could in order to be a part of these awesome new Agent Workshops they’re having this year.

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What’s so cool about an Agent Workshop? you might ask. Of course this is a good question, one I am happy to explain to you.

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Instead of a 10 minute, nail biting, make-it-or-break-it session with your proposed agent, several agents are meeting in an intimate group to give you an in-depth analysis and critique of your query and first 10 pages. Um…AWESOME!! This means 90 minutes of talking with, learning from and gaining insight from a professional who knows how to get you published.

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You can imagine my chagrin when I had to run and get my credit card and in those two point five seconds, my hoped for spot was swiped out from under me by another prospective author with better possession of their desired payment method. BOO-HOO!!

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Well, that all changed Friday night. Someone in Laurie McLean’s group got an agent (congratulations to this unknown helper of my dreams!) and pulled out of the workshop. Yours truly was next in line. I AM SO EXCITED!!

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Laurie McLean is pretty awesome. She reps some pretty neat authors. She appreciates the hybrid method of publishing that is growing so quickly these days (Indie + Traditional) and she’s got a substantial amount of experience under her belt.

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For the next ten days I’ll be revising and perfecting my Regency romance so that when Ms. McLean falls in love with the first ten pages, I’ll be able to send her the rest for publishing.

That and throwing a birthday party for my girls, playing in the sun and generally enjoying Spring Break. What are you up to this week?

 

Author Interview {Peggy Eddleman}

Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Author Interview Series, Book Status, Inspiration, My Blog Posts | 1 comment

I met this lovely lady while sitting at last year’s Whitney Awards. She showed me a picture of her book cover on her phone and it took my breath away! Since then we’ve become friends, we’ve sprinted together (writing, not running, though she could probably sprint physically too!), and we both share an appreciation for a well baked cookie. Now Peggy has a second book coming out in September and is teaching at the LDStorymakers Conference in a couple weeks. Peggy was nice enough to let me ask her a million questions about books and writing and everything in between. Take a look!

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 CH:     Sky Jumpers is on my to read list – where did this idea come from?

 PE: The idea for the setting (which is usually what I start with when I write a book) came from looking out the window of an airplane at the clouds, and imagining how unbelievably fun it would be to jump off the plane and into those clouds, and have them slow my fall.

Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman

Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman

CH:  I love the premise of someone who stands out from the crowd because they don’t have that common trait. Why do you think she makes a good hero?

PE: I think she’s a relatable character because we all have those times when we feel like we aren’t good at something that is important to be good at. It’s a common thing to compare your weaknesses to other people’s strengths, and sometimes it’s hard to see what you are really worth. I think she makes a good hero because she isn’t afraid to make decisions and act on those decisions. She doesn’t let fear– including fear of failure– stand in her way.

CH:  When we were together last you had a whole list of great books. Please give me the top 5 books I HAVE to read.

PE:  Thank you for not limiting me to one or two! Five is hard enough to narrow down. Some of the books I read last year that still get me whenever I think of them are these:

Young Adult:

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BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by April Tucholke

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TAKEN by Erin Bowman

Middle Grade:

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RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPLESTILTSKIN by Liesl Shurtliff

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THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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THE VERY NEARLY HONORABLE LEAGUE OF PIRATES: MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT by Caroline Carlson

CH:  I’ve heard you say you enjoy painting. Would you be willing to share a picture of something you’ve painted?

PE: Sure! My favorite thing to paint is full room murals, and right now there are two in my house (although there have been many others throughout the years).

My daughter’s room has a castle that fills the biggest wall and half of the two side walls, with rolling hills and sky covering the other walls and the ceiling. These are pictures of a couple of dragons that grace the walls.

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My boys have both loved volunteering at the space center near our home, where the missions are based off Star Trek. So I did a space theme in their room, complete with a Federation ship and a Romulan ship mid-battle.

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CH:  You’re going to be everywhere this year. Which event are you anticipating the most?

PE:  Oh, gosh. That’s a very hard question. I’m very excited to go to Texas Library Association’s Annual Conference, especially since I’ll be doing school visits while I’m there. (I love doing school visits!) I’m coming to your stomping grounds three times (!)– for Jessie Humphries’ book launch (I hear it’s going to be Killer :)), for the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, and for the Vegas Valley Book Festival. I’m excited for all of them. I’m doing events in Utah that I’ve never been to before, and I’m revisiting some of my favorites. I’m excited for all of it, to be honest.

CH:  The Whitneys! What fun to be a Finalist with your debut book! How do you decide what to wear?

PE:  A fellow writer, Shelly Brown, dared me to accessorize with this fine piece of jewelry. So I guess it’s a matter of finding something that’ll go with it….

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(I kid, of course. I’m pretty sure that necklace costs thousands of dollars and is possibly one-of-a-kind. Plus, you know, disturbing.)


CH: Now on to business. How did you sell Sky Jumpers to an Agent and was there a working title different from this one?
PE: The original title was THROUGH THE BOMB’S BREATH, and there’s still a special spot for that title right here. My agent (Sara Crowe) requested my full manuscript after a live pitch session, but I didn’t send it to her until I was ready to start querying four months later. When another agent I queried first requested my full, I sent it to both of them. They both offered representation, and I chose Sara because she’s awesome.

CH: You seem to be pretty disciplined. How do you work writing into a busy family life?

PE: I am still so far away from finding the magic balance! The only thing I have gotten down is treating my writing time as precious. I don’t let things like a messy house or bare pantry get in the way of it. I figure that there are a lot of things that can be done while still giving my family attention, and writing isn’t one of them. And if I spend my writing time doing other things, it means I have to spend my family time writing.

CH: Cookies are a main theme in your blog. Can you share your favorite cookie recipe?

PE: Sure! My favorite is pumpkin chocolate cookies, because they’re more light and fluffy. My kids figure that they’re pretty much a vegetable, so that makes them okay for everything from snacks to breakfast. I’m inclined to agree. 😉

Peggy’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/3 c. Butter
1 ½ c. Sugar
1 Egg
1 c. Pumpkin
1 tsp. Vanilla
½ t. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Cinnamon
2 ½ c. Flour
1 c. Chocolate Chips

Cream together sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and mix. Mix in pumpkin. Mix in flour. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

CH: You recently wrote 7 Tips for Pitching to an Agent for Writer’s Digest. I loved it! What was your first Pitch Session like?

PE: Thanks! I did everything wrong. Including remembering to breathe. 😉 I was so nervous by the time I walked into the room, I forgot most of what I was going to say, didn’t go prepared with any questions, my hands shook the whole time, and I’m pretty sure my voice didn’t come out anywhere close to normal-sounding. It was fabulous.


CH:  You’re on a roll with your second installment of Sky Jumpers: THE FORBIDDEN FLATS. The cover is AWESOME! Any teasers you’d like to share with us?

THE-FORBIDDEN-FLATSPE: Hmmm. Just that there’s a gigantic earthquake that triggers the Bomb’s Breath lowering (and fyi– that’s a really bad thing), a trip across the Forbidden Flats, a few unique and fascinating cities, danger, excitement, adventure, and Sky Surfing on the Bomb’s Breath (which is even cooler than sky jumping). It was a very difficult book to write and a very difficult book to get just right, and I’m insanely excited for it to come out.

CH: What are you writing right now?

PE: Proposals for a new MG series, which has been so much fun to daydream about.

CH: What are you reading?

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I’m about 2/3 finished with OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY by Karen Foxlee, a fellow Random House author.

CH: When you write, do you listen to anything? Is there a playlist to go with your books?

PE: I only listen to music if I’m somewhere that I have to drown out talking. Otherwise I write in silence. I don’t have a playlist– just a Pandora station that gets me in a creative mood.

CH: Here at Addicted we want to know – What are you addicted to? What are the things you can’t live without?

PE: My husband and our kids. Because they are an awesome and highly-addictive substance.

Thanks so much for visiting ADDICTED today, Peggy! I have to say I shivered even posting that picture of your “proposed neckwear”. Eeek! Thanks for sharing your books and how you write. My first pitch session must have been much like yours, though I think I’m blocking out the worst parts of it. Ha ha! I am SUPER excited to have you down to Vegas for the Vegas Valley Book Festival in the fall and Jessie’s Launch on May 2nd. As for FORBIDDEN FLATS, that’s out in September. Feel free to go preorder your copy today!

And since we’re talking about great books and we’re moments away from enjoying SPRING BREAK here in Vegas, let me recommend a copy of A HEART SO BROKEN! The perfect combination of romance, regret and redemption to keep you up tonight!

A {Killer} Review

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in Book Reviews, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

Some weeks you’re the groundhog, down in your den and only peeking out when there’s something of interest – or in Punxsutawney’s case, when you’re dragged unceremoniously into the light to witness your shadow and condemn the nation to more winter or not see it and fuel our hopes of Spring. Either way, your job isn’t too glamorous. That’s kind of what writing is like. You have a lot of fun when you’re in the limelight, signing books and meeting wonderful readers, but there is a lot of unglamorous Punxsutawney moments.

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Things like writing query letters, ripping them up cause their crap and then writing some more, all in hopes of selling your amazing book to an agent. There’s the fun of researching agents and trying to figure out if your book has “a unique voice” (umm…does not compute…need more accurate definition). There’s the editing which can be shades of fun and shades of misery. There’s the sneaking into your bedroom and hoping none of your five monkeys notice so you can possibly write one or two coherent sentences before their little radars go off and they come searching for you needing their apple cut (because you don’t let them use the sharp knives), their bums wiped (because they’re that age) or your opinion on a very long version of a very short story. Ha ha. It’s a good life, for sure, but there are those moments when you’re hiding, working away and don’t necessarily want to be dragged into the light to make decisions about the fate of nature. That’s kinda where I’ve been.

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But this week is different. Today I couldn’t help but shout out to my girl Jessie Humphries. She’s been doing amazing things in preparation for her upcoming book launch on May 2nd here in Las Vegas, Nevada. Things like having an amazing Book Trailer created, hiring models (for Liam and Ruby) for her book launch, kicking off a great writing contest for LV high school kids and much more! Let me emphasize that you do NOT want to miss this event. Even better you can get YOUR copy of her YA Thriller KILLING RUBY ROSE on Amazon right this very minute. If I’m not mistaken, it’s still at the rockbottom price of $1.99 or um...FREE if you’re a Prime member. Yeah, a good deal.

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I read this book last week while hiding in my groundhog den. Here’s what I liked:

  • Ruby Rose is a quirky teen enchanted with designer shoes and her own closet full of them.
  • She loves to name inanimate objects and I adore this part of her personality.
  • She’s super comfortable with deadly weaponry after her father’s careful tutelage. 
  • Her little romance with Liam – in fact I think he is downright adorable.
  • How she tucked things in The Cleave. I don’t know why. I just thought it was hilarious.
  • Ruby’s BFF shows up in her saddest moment and really helps her to remember herself. Isn’t that what best friends are all about?
  • Not knowing how it all would end until the last scene. The secrets underneath Ruby’s manipulation were only barely hinted at along the way and finally, everything comes to light in a huge revelation. 

The romance is just enough to keep an addict like me happy. There is violence (obviously) and some language but I would call it mild.

I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but I liked this one. It’s such an interesting concept and a struggle for Ruby when she is basically being turned into a serial killer despite her best efforts to help those she loves and innocent bystanders caught up in this web. It really made me think about what I would do in a similar situation (given the same training and more importantly, the same shoes!). Go check out KILLING RUBY ROSE and tell Jessie I sent ya. Then mark your calendars, because in less than a month, Vegas is going to have quite a party on their hands!

 

Author/Editor Interview {Lisa Mangum}

Posted by on Mar 28, 2014 in Author Interview Series, Book Reviews, Inspiration, My Blog Posts | 1 comment

In keeping with my new year resolutions, this week I’ve been studying agents. I’m asking lots of questions. Researching profiles. Following Tweets. And writing queries, all in preparation for finding the PERFECT agent for my books. I’ll keep you all posted. So far Querytracker.net has been an awesome resource. You can search for agents according to genre and make a list. There are links right there to research about specific agents too. It’s kind of fun to get to know these professionals in the industry and what they’re looking for.

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With this in mind, I wanted to post today’s interview with Author and Editor Lisa Mangum. This lady has so many talents. She is a great teacher, a wonderful writer, a Disney addict, and has helped to perfect some of the books you love to read. Let’s get to know her better:

One of my faves!

One of my faves!

CH: As a writer/editor, is it difficult to turn off your critical brain in order to be creative in your writing?

LM: Yes. At least it was in the beginning. I had been editing for so long that when I added writing to my list of things-to-do it took some time for me to learn how to switch between the two skill sets. A couple of things helped me make the transition:

(1) I don’t write at work, and I don’t work at home. I am very careful to make sure that my work stays in my office. That way, when I get home, my physical surroundings help remind me that I am in a safe place to be creative and that I don’t have to listen to my “editor brain” until later.

(2) I write in Times New Roman, but I edit in Verdana. I was surprised at how much of an effect switching the font on my computer had on both my editing and my writing. I waited until I had finished my first draft of The Hourglass Door and then asked myself, “What would I think about this manuscript if it wasn’t mine?” And so I did what I always do when I’m preparing to edit: I switched the font. And suddenly it was like my editor brain woke up and said, “Oh, well, then I’d change this and this and move that there.” It was amazing and helpful and has become my standard practice.

CH: What are your favorite parts of being an editor?

LM: I love the developmental editing part of the process. I love working with an author and talking about the big picture stuff in the book. Seeing a manuscript transform into something more polished and shiny never gets old.

CH: You were just at the Superstars Conference. Can you share the top 3 things you learned there? 

LM: Can I just say how much I adored the Superstars Writing Seminar? It was my first time attending, and I was completely blown away by the caliber of writers and instructors there. I learned so much, and I can’t wait to go back next year.

(1) “Your manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be finished.”—Kevin J. Anderson

I love this because it reminds me that my first draft can be ragged around the edges. I just need to finish it and then I can perfect it. For someone who is often paralyzed by the burden of feeling like my writing needs to be perfect the first time around, this is a good reminder.

(2) “You don’t have to be fast, you have to be focused.”—Peter Wacks

A great quote that reminds me that—for me—it’s better to be focused than just throwing words down on paper. Granted sometimes I do that, but I make better use of my time when I’m focused on knowing what happens next.

(3) “If you don’t believe in writer’s block, it won’t believe in you.”—Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Ah, writer’s block, my old nemesis. This was a great quote for me to remember because I, like most writers, I think, often hit up against that wall of writer’s block. But if I can remember that it’s more of an illusion than a barrier, I’m more likely to push past it (and faster) and continue writing—which is the most important part of being a writer.

CH: You teach a killer pitch class. Where do we go wrong the most and what should we do about it?

LM: Most people don’t focus on the core problem of the story with their pitch. They dance around the heart of the story, or they clutter it up with unnecessary (but often cool) details. When you are crafting your pitch, think about four things: tell me who your hero is, tell me what his goal is, tell me at least one obstacle he will face, and tell me what the consequence of failure is. If I can walk away from your pitch knowing those four things, you’ve done a good job.

 CH: You work for Deseret Book. Can you tell us what you’re looking for from writers in the upcoming year? At times there are open calls for certain types of books. Are there any coming up that we should get writing for?

LM: I like to say that the submission door is always open at Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain. We’re always looking for the “next big thing” but that could be any book in almost any genre. I will say that we have some strong middle grade and YA titles on the schedule right now, so if you are working on something in those genres, it’ll have to be spectacular to catch our attention.

Also, there’s no one best time to submit your work. Finish it, polish it, and then send it in.

CH: What are you writing now, and what is your process for writing? 

LM: I’m working on a romance novella for an anthology as well as a full-length romance novel. I have a fairy tale story in the back of my head, a contemporary YA novel about sisters, and an urban fantasy. (Decisions, decisions!)

As far as my process goes: I outline obsessively and draft once. I like to know the scope of the story from the beginning and now how I’m going to get from start to finish. I like to leave room to play if the story takes me in an unexpected direction, but I like structure more. I write a little every day and then lots at night and on the weekends.

CH: Give us your top three tips for aspiring writers.

LM:

(1) Give yourself permission to write something stupid. Sometimes the best way through writer’s block is to just not stop writing, and that may yield some less-than-perfect prose. That’s okay. Keep going. You’ll find your groove again. And then you can throw out the stupid bits tomorrow. No one will ever know.

(2) Do the work. Writing is hard. It is time-consuming and aggravating and glorious and fulfilling. But you can’t get there unless you actually write something down. Don’t just think about it all the time. Get the words out of your head and onto the paper.

(3) Remember to keep your balance. It’s important to know when to say yes to something, and when to say no. We all only have some much time in a day. Use your time wisely and well, and chances are you’ll feel the benefits in your writing.

 CH: We’ve seen a trend of vampires, then angels, followed by trolls and zombies. What do you think is next on the horizon for YA or other books?

LM: I think contemporary YA is on the rise. Stand-alone, character-driven stories feel like they are gaining popularity. Of course, a well-written, compelling story will never go out of style.

CH: We know you love Disneyland – can you share a little known Disney secret, or a great place to visit in the park that is often overlooked, or a great place to get deals on their tickets? (We’re trying to take our family this year for the first time!)

LM: I do love Disneyland! One Disney secret that I learned is about the Disneyland Railroad train ride. When you are going past the Grand Canyon section, the backdrop is a mural painted on a single canvas, and when it was done, it was blessed by a Hopi priest.

One Disney tradition that my husband and I do on every visit is to leave a compliment card at City Hall about a cast member who did a great job that day. We feel that it’s one way to give a little magic back to a place that is already so magical.

CH: Here at ADDICTED we like to know your addictions. Tell us what you can’t live without.

LM: Books and chocolate are probably givens, right? I will admit that lately I’ve become addicted to Dr. Who. (That David Tennatt . . . my, oh, my!)

 

My Kind of Monday

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Book Reviews, Giveaways, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

It’s Monday…and despite the widespread culture of dreading all days beginning with the letter M, I kind of dig it. It means shopping so my fridge doesn’t look all Old Mother Hubbard. It means a fresh new week. And today it means the beginning of a really great sale! Check out the details below and then get yourselves this delightful boxed set before the day is out. And hey – tell your friends, because friends don’t let friends miss sales on great books. You’ll also want to join up with the Launch Party happening tonight on Facebook. Giveaways! Fun! Books! All the perfect ingredients for an exceptional Monday!
Breathtaking: Seven Bestselling Novels of Love and Suspense
Boxed set is only $.99 March 24th through March 29th. 

 

Unbelievable by Sherry Gammon

Deliah Dreser’s in town to take care of family business. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but there’s more to Lilah than meets the eye. Cole’s in danger of losing his heart when this firestorm throws sparks his way. Is she simply playing him for the fool in order to exact revenge for her brother’s murders?

Bestselling author Sherry Gammon’s reviewers exclaim; “She has a gift for touching her readers with beautiful, gripping stories that you can’t put down.”


Home Before Dark by Christy Barritt

Nothing good ever happens after dark. Those were the words country singer Daleigh McDermott’s father always repeated.

Now her father is dead, and Daleigh finds a hidden journal hinting that his death was no accident. Small town mechanic Ryan Shields is the only one who seems to believe Daleigh. As the two work to unravel the mystery, it becomes obvious that someone wants them dead. They must rely on each other—and on God—if they hope to make it home before the darkness swallows them whole.

Award-Winning Suspense Novelist and Bestselling Amazon Author, touted as “scary, funny, passionate, and quirky” by USA Today.

Baggage Claim by Amanda Tru

Rachel Saunders is looking forward to her all-expense paid weekend trip to New York. But, when her luggage is lost and she is accosted by an infuriating Homeland Security agent, events take a dangerous turn.

Amanda Tru, Bestselling Amazon Author of Romance and Suspense. Discover the author who, as an Amazon reviewer raves, “continues to impress me and dominate my time with a book I can’t put down even after it’s ended.”



Cassie’s Cowboy Crave by Kimberly Krey

In a moment of weakness, Shane steals a kiss.

In return, Cassie steals his heart…

When Cassie is forced to join the witness protection program, she fears her life is over… but then she meets Shane Emerson — the hunky cowboy posing as her husband. Will this sham marriage turn into the real thing, or will a hidden danger put it all at risk?

Kimberly Krey writes romance that’s clean without losing the steam. What’s Beyond Forks calls this Best-selling Western Romance author “the master of romantic tension.”



A Perfect Fit by Heather Tullis

Cami DiCarlo is not happy when her father forces her into heading up guest services at his newest five-star hotel and unveils the existence of four half-sisters at the same time, insisting they live together while they launch the new resort.

When she meets Vince, the sweet, sexy landscaper her father would never have approved of, Cami can’t say no. If only she could be sure she is on the right track—and that they will be able to stop the person who is trying to destroy everything.

You Belong with Me by Shannon Guymon 

Layla Kendall is a burned out social worker one step away from a major depression. When she and her sisters inherit their grandmother’s bakery, she doesn’t know if she can trust her good fortune or not. But the chance to be with her sisters and get away from the heartache and pain she’s faced day in and day out is a chance she’s going to take. With Layla’s new life, come new friendships, including Michael Bender, a single dad. She doesn’t trust men but Michael’s little girl grabs her by the heart and won’t let go.

Shannon Guymon is an Amazon Bestselling Author of lighthearted and clean romance who according to her many fans, has the ability to paint pictures of her characters so real that readers would know them if they saw them walking down the street.

Blog This by Cami Checketts

Devastated by the loss of her brother, Natasha Senecot exposes the dangers of Matthew Chrysler’s violent video games, bankrupting and humiliating him. Chrysler sends a hit man after her. In a race against time, can Natasha expose Chrysler before his assassin murders her family and shatters her world?

Bestselling author Cami Checketts has been touted as, “A genius! She writes about topics that aren’t widely discussed, and she does such a brilliant job of crafting these things into wonderful stories that touch your heart and remain with you for days afterwards.”

Author Interview {Chad Morris}

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Author Interview Series, Book Reviews, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

So last week – should we talk about it or just let it slide? I was…shall we say – busy. But not in the fun writer dashing out thousands of words way. More like girl with five babies trying to get on the right track busy. Starting a new eating plan busy. Cutting out sugar and carbs busy. Whole30 busy.

I know you understand this.

Never fear! I’m back and feeling pretty good actually. This week in Vegas, we have the thrill of two MG authors swooping in for a fun book tour. NY Times Bestselling Author Brandon Mull and Chad Morris are going to be here signing and selling and generally entertaining the masses. I thought I would prep you for their arrival with a little interview with Chad. He is seriously a lot of fun and I really enjoyed his book The Inventor’s Secret.

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My 11 year old son gave it a thumbs up as well.

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Believe me, you want to know more about this fun author and his works. Let’s get to know Chad a little better, shall we?

CH:           Where did the idea for Cragbridge Hall originate?

CM: Great question. Here’s the answer:

CH:            I read you did stand up comedy for a time. What made you start writing, or was it something you’ve always done?

CM: I started writing and performing sketch comedy in college with a group called Divine Comedy. Brandon Mull, the New York Times Best-Selling Author, was in the group and the college group still gets together to do some of his launch parties.

Comedy was a fantastic writing school. I got to practice pitching my ideas, pounding out drafts, getting feedback, and then seeing how it went over with an audience. I think it helped my writing a lot.

CH:            How did you sell your book to an agent…what was the process and time frame for you?

CM: I actually went the other way. I sent the manuscript for Cragbridge Hall, the Inventor’s Secret straight to Shadow Mountain Publishing. And thankfully, they made me an offer. Then I found an agent.  I had sent Shadow Mountain a manuscript previous to this one that got some good attention, so thankfully they were already a bit interested in me.

CH:            What do you love most about writing?

CM: I love the no-limits creativity.

CH:            What secrets can you tell us about The Inventor’s Secret?

CM: Um . . . let’s see. One of the codes for the Bridge is the home phone number I memorized in elementary school.  I made Grandpa Cragbridge the age my oldest son will be in 2074.

If you want an insider secret, I’ll just say that Grandpa Cragbridge isn’t the only one who has a huge secret. You find out about another in book 2.

CH:           Is another book coming? When will it come out? Is Vegas on your list of stops for signing and promotion, hint, hint?

CM: Book 2, The Avatar Battle came out March 4, 2014! I’m pretty thrilled!

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I’m a lucky brat and will be doing a lot of touring with Brandon Mull this spring. Vegas is on the docket! It looks like we should be there around March 20-21. Check www.cragbridgehall.com for the official list of stops in the near future.

{Chad will indeed be here: March 20th at Deseret Book 7650 W. Sahara Ave at 6:30pm – March 21st  at Barnes and Noble 567 N. Stephanie, Henderson 6pm}

CH:           What about your family – tell us about how they inspire and challenge you.

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CM: I love this question. My wife is my sounding board, my first reader, and quite possibly the best and hottest woman in the world. She gives great feedback and reassures me when I’m pretty convinced everything I write is boring slop. Plus, she runs our crazy household and finds ways of letting me write.

And my kids are my main motivation for writing. The thought of making them laugh, gasp, or call out a “that’s awesome!” or “no way!” brings a whole new level to my story. And when I read to them at night, and the story works, it’s a total thrill.

CH:         Top 3 things you want every young reader to know.

CM:

1. You’re awesome. Seriously, you are. Don’t argue with me. Just admit it. And keep reading.

2. Read what you love, and occasionally read something different just to try it out.

3. You can do something amazing! Yep. Just try. And then keep trying. You just might surprise me and yourself.

CH:            Top 4 things you want every writer to know

CM:

1. You’re probably better than you think.

2. Keep trying.

3. Read with a writing eye. (But also read for just plain fun too.)

4. Take a break and do something else every now and then. Writing is awesome, but it may just drive us crazy if we get too obsessed with it.

CH:          Share your favorite scene from book one or two – fave or most pivotal?

CM: That would be a tough call. I have a lot of favorites for different reasons. For example, I love the avatar relay race in book 2 because I think it’s creative and crazy fun to imagine. For the same reason, I get caught up in the virtual world in book 2.

I love the way book 1 wrapped up with Abby saving the day in the basement. While I was writing the story, and approaching the end, I had no idea how I was going to get her out of the trouble I had gotten her into. I’m pretty thrilled with the way it turned out.

And I love when I write something that may hit a deeper emotional level, like Abby’s confession of how she’s felt inferior for years to Derick in book 1 or there is an emotionally intense scene with Derick in book 2.

 CH:          What inspires you or gets your juices flowing: quotes, music, pictures, movies?

CM: I love books, movies, comedy, just talking with great friends . . . etc. But when it comes to actually writing, nothing gets the juices flowing like … well … writing. I sit, and I type and hopefully after a while something great happens.

 CH:         When you visit a school, what is your goal?

CM: I want to convince them that their brain is the best invention in the universe (My current presentation has a bit of an invention theme). I want to excite and inspire them to read and make dreams come true. I also want the teachers to be able to get behind what I say. You can please the kids without pleasing the adults, but I want to do both.  I introduce them to my book and if it looks fun to them I hope they look into it.

CH:          Tell us what you do when you’re not writing.

CM: I still pound away at my full-time job. I love to hang out with my five kids and date my wife. I’m very active in my church. I like to play some basketball, watch comedy, read, watch Sherlock, throw my children on bean bags . . . etc.

CH:          3 things on your bucket list

CM: To be interviewed by Christene. Check.

I’d like to take my son to China (He’s pretty fascinated by it.), make a career out of writing, keep my wife in love with me until we’re awesome old people who smell like vitamins and wear clothes that don’t match, and help my kids become as amazing as possible.

CH:         What book impressed you as a young reader? Did it prove inspiration during your writing?

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CM: When I was in elementary school, I didn’t like to read. I thought it was boring. I’d rather play ball with my friends, or practice drums, or . . . whatever. But The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander won me over. I went through the whole series. After that, I can’t say I read a ton, but I did enjoy it. Alexander converted me. I wrote to him and he wrote me this short note on a pamphlet. I’ve kept it all these years. I think that was the first moment I realized that authors were just people and maybe I could become one.

And I would love to win over a reluctant reader like Alexander won me over.

CH:         Here at ADDICTED we love to hear what you can’t live without. What are you addicted to?

CM: I love cookie dough ice cream and cereal, but not together. I eat a bowl of cereal almost every night while I’m writing. Definitely addicted.

Chad, thanks so much for sharing your time with us! 

I loved learning more about Chad and his books. This guy has a great sense of humor and talent for telling stories. You should definitely check out his website, and follow him on Facebook. If you’re in Vegas, come on out this week and pick up a copy of his newest release: The Avatar Battle!

Author Interview {Marissa Meyer}

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Author Interview Series, Book Reviews, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

So last night I was feeding my ADDICTION to baby snuggling. Holding my infant son while he slept and binge reading my second book of the day. My perspective alternated between pages and words and the blissful little man in my arms with eyelashes that seemed to be growing by the minute and a pair of the most kissable cheeks ever dispensed to a baby. His weight in the crook of my arm felt fantastic, a perfect bundle of squishy warmth and wiggles. I should have been contemplating my post for today or writing up a query and some first pages for the contests I’m entering. But that’s what today is for. Last night was for reading and snuggling, and honestly, I can quit whenever I want.

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Today I am thrilled to share my interview with the fabulous Marissa Meyer with you. I seriously heart her twisted fairytale seriesThe Lunar Chronicles which includes Cinder – a retelling of Cinderella,

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Scarlet that follows Little Red Riding Hood on some new adventures,

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and her latest release of Cress – all about Rapunzel. I. cannot. wait. to read it!

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With her launch of Cress in full swing, you can imagine Ms. Meyer is pretty darn busy. I’ve seen her all over the United States sharing, celebrating and enjoying some pretty awesome fans. I am thrilled she took the time to answer a few questions for us. You can learn so much more about Ms. Meyer on her website and find out how to JOIN THE RESISTANCE.

CH: We have a pretty open book club, but whenever I bring up cyborgs and fairytales they balk! How would you sell your books to a more conservative crowd or even reluctant readers?

MM: I know, it can be a hard sell with all of the genre jargon sometimes! But I hope that at the heart of the books is a great story, with action, romance, friendships, humor, and four girls trying to find their happily ever afters (and, you know, save the world). I recognize that my books won’t be for every reader, but I always hope that people will give them a shot before making that decision!

CH: Your query/agent hunt was remarkably smooth! Any tips for those still working on finding an agent?

MM: It’s certainly not any new advice, but it is really so important to make sure that you are sending out your best work before you jump into the query pool. Use critique partners, revise and edit and polish to within an inch of your life, read craft guides, hone that query letter until it sparkles. I so often see aspiring writers jump in before their work is really reader, but you only get that one chance to make a first impression – don’t waste it!

CH: I adore fan art and pinboards for helping us see your vision more accurately. Can you share some of your favorite Lunar fan art with us?

MM: Me too! Fanart is one of my favorite things about being a writer right now. Some of the artists capture it so well! Right now, everyone is pretty smitten with the pieces from Laura Hollingsworth, and with good reason – they’re gorgeous! I also really love how some fanartists have crafted sections of the books into graphic novel pages, like Abbida Squirrel on DA. I think it’s really cool to see the story come to life in a different format.

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Cinder, Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Thorne and Queen Levana by lostie815

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By Abbida Squirrel on DA

Click on the images above to find out more about these artists and their work. 

CH: I’m thrilled with the arc of your series – something every writer struggles to keep fresh. I think part of your success is in your ability to weave new characters into the storyline with each new book, while adding to the original tale. How did you decide which characters or fairytales you would focus on in this series? 

MM: Thank you! I gave a lot of thought to how the stories would intertwine very early on in the process, and even outlined all four books before I started writing them. In the beginning, I was just brainstorming different sci-fi twists that I could give on some of my favorite fairy tales, and I felt like the four stories that I ended up choosing were the four that I had the best ideas for, and could most easily envision how they would all tie together to become one continuous story. So I went with it!

CH: Here at ADDICTED, we need to know: What are you addicted do? What are the things you can’t live without?

MM: Chocolate – the darker the better! And, naturally, books. I start to get cranky when I don’t have regular reading time – and there is never enough time to get caught up on the TBR list! I have many fantasies about locking myself up in a tower with endless shelves of books and just hibernating for a year or two. Maybe someday…

Locked in a tower with books…mmm sounds heavenly Marissa! Thank you again for stopping by ADDICTED today!

Don’t know what you’re going to read this weekend? Then it’s the perfect day to JOIN THE RESISTANCE and dive into The Lunar Chronicles. Let me know what you think!

AND DON’T FORGET!! A HEART SO BROKEN is on sale today and tomorrow for $4.99 on Amazon! And I’ll be signing books with some great Vegas and Henderson Authors at the Local Authors Collection Launch tomorrow from 12-2pm at the Paseo Verde Library at 280 S. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson, NV. Come on out and see me!

Author Interview {Elana Johnson}

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in Author Interview Series, Book Reviews, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

I just finished Elana Johnson’s latest release ELEVATED after an obsessive reading session yesterday. Beginning to end, I was surprised and delighted by how much I enjoyed this book entirely in prose. To be honest, when the format was first announced, I didn’t quite know how to wrap my head around it. A book written in poetry? Like Roses are Red, all rhyming and Dr. Seuss-y? Don’t get me wrong, I love the Seuss, but this was a YA novel with tension and … Horton doesn’t bring it!

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Nevertheless, when I started reading, I was instantly hooked. The poetry of the words – not rhyming, but lyrical, rolling out wave after wave of this story that you just have to know more about. I adored the way the words were placed, the visual poetry of it. I loved Elly’s quirks, her unique personality that is unveiled throughout the story and her triumph in the end. I just enjoyed it so much!

And after starting and stopping several books of late that just…didn’t get me…do you know the feeling? That feeling like you’re only reading to be nice, to not hurt the book’s feelings (don’t laugh), hoping that it will get better, that it will grab you by the neck and yank you in…eventually? Well, this one did and I was so thrilled to be taken for the ride. Elana did a terrific job!

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In light of her fabulousness, I had to see if we could learn just a little bit more, and Elana was more than happy to answer a few questions for ADDICTED:

CH: Your current cover for ELEVATED is gorgeous. Tell us how you brought it together, from an idea, to finding the perfect models, to the picture and then a cover that jumps out at you. 

EJ: Well, when you’re in charge of your own cover, and you’re so close to the book you’ve written, getting a cover you like can be hard! For me, I decided that the cover didn’t need to portray the words inside the book. I have learned something from my covers in the Possession series!

The only thing I needed my cover to say was “YA contemporary.” So that was my focus. I researched other YA contemporary novels. My photographer and cover designer, Erin Summerill, and I sat together, looking at soon-to-be-released YA contemporary novels to get a feel for what they were doing.

Then we tried to do that!

Our models kept bailing on us, so we finally just grabbed a couple of kids from our neighborhood. They did such a fantastic job – because they’re a little awkward, and it’s perfect for ELEVATED.

CH: You have Indie and conventionally published books. How did you get your current agent and will you continue to use the hybrid method of publishing?

EJ: I am embracing the hybrid model, and thankfully, my new agent is on-board with such an idea. I parted ways with my first agent in September, and immediately began submitting two of my finished novels to other agents. At the same time, I started planning the publication and release of ELEVATED, and submitted a fourth novel to small presses.

It took about 6 weeks of hard querying before I got another offer of representation from my current agent. By then, ELEVATED was well into production, and we talked about me doing the self-publishing thing while she submits my other, well-suited-for-traditional-publishing novels to traditional publishers.

This year, I will be published two YA contemporary novels in verse. ELEVATED is the first of those, and I’m aiming to follow it with another title in September. I also hope to have a traditional book deal by then!

CH: How do you balance your many skills: teaching, marketing, family, writing? How do you make time for writing? Is it an everyday habit? 

EJ: Well, family and work come first. I’m a part-time teacher, so that leaves me a few hours to get some things done before the family descends again.

I write whenever I have a spare minute, usually during my 40-minute lunch at school, or while my kids are anxiously engaged in their activities. And then there’s always those hours when everyone else is asleep…

I don’t worry about writing every day anymore. It’s too stressful if I have to do that. If I have the energy and the inclination, I write. Same goes for marketing and social media. 

CH: You have a brand new book out with ELEVATED. What are you working on now?

EJ: I just finished my second novel-in-verse, and I just hired an editor for a third self-published title I want to put out in February 2015. So I opened a book I’d written last year, and started revising it. I got some good feedback from two editors last year, and I’m looking to make this book into something awesome for my agent (who’s already said she’d like to read it when I get the revisions done)!

CH: What are your favorite places to write? 

I like to write on my couch, or in bed, or at the library, or during write night at a friend’s house. I’ve been known to write in the car, or on my phone, or sitting at the kitchen counter. I don’t have a physical office, so my mantra is “Have laptop, will travel to write.”

CH: What is Wattpad and how can it help an author? Why should they use it?

EJ: Wattpad is a site where readers can discover new authors. Anyone can put their writing up on Wattpad, and I think it helps authors by bringing new readership to their work. I think an author should only use Wattpad if they want to and they see value in it, just like any other marketing or social media tool.

CH: With your experience in marketing for yourself and others, what are the top three methods that are MOST effective?

EJ: This is a hard one! I think the biggest thing that is the most effective is a direct email to someone you’ve gotten to know, or helped in some way, or that you’ve connected with beyond just writing.

I think blog tours can be very effective in reaching beyond the pool mentioned above, to reach potential readers that are already loyal to bloggers or other authors.

And the last one is to keep writing!

CH: You taught an amazing class on queries last year at LDStorymakers that I still refer to. Will you be teaching anything this year?

EJ: Thank you! Yes, I will be teaching at Storymakers this year. I’m doing an outlining class with Ali Cross, and also sitting on a critique group panel. In addition to that, I’m speaking in the Cache School district to 7th-9th graders about art and creativity in March, and I’m speaking at a teen science fiction and fantasy workshop at BYU in April.

CH: Tell us about WriteOnCon. What is it? Who should go? What sets it apart from other conferences?

EJ: WriteOnCon is an online writer’s conference. It’s free – and it’s for everyone! We have authors, agents, and editors who write blog posts, record vlogs, and conduct live events, all in the effort to help aspiring writers make connections with each other and in the industry, improve their craft, and move toward publication.

It’s unique because it’s free, and it’s online so it really is available to EVERYONE, anywhere in the world.

 CH: Here at ADDICTED, we’d love to know what you’re addicted to. Is there anything you can’t live without?

EJ: Chocolate cake, key lime pie, bacon, and reality TV. I take all of those in small doses, except for the TV!

Elana, what a pleasure! Thanks for stopping by to answer our questions. I love all the things I learn from authors a little further down the trail and doing great things!

To learn more about Elana, check out her list of great books and keep up with her new releases, head over to her blog, Goodreads, or Amazon.com.  And as always, if you love what you read here, please share it with a friend!

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