Interview + GIVEAWAY with Bryan Pentelow

‘Ello gov’na! (I just love British accents!!!) Today’s special guest hails all the way across the Atlantic and lives in the United Kingdom! We are so glad to have Bryan Pentelow with us today! He is giving out TWO e-copies of his newest book Sprocket and the Heart of the North this week, and we want you to win them! Go check out the interview below and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Bryan Pentelow

1. In your own words, what is your book Sprocket and the Heart of the North about? 51CtZm7Rp2L._AC_US160_

As with all the Sprocket Sagas, this one is a fight between good and evil. Which wins? Read it and find out. 

The North of England was a centre of glass making in the past and in my history, the furnaces were fired by dragons. Then a desperate sorcerer needing powerful magic to save his own land steals the Heart of the North, kills its maker and casts an evil spell to cover his dark deeds. A counter spell is conjured to contain the evil but how long can it last. Can dogs, dragons and humans find the lost Heart of the North before the Creeping Dark destroys the Great Northern Forest and lays waste to their homes? What is Dragon Glass and what makes it so special? Is the young glass blower from Manchester a descendant of the maker of the Heart of the North? What is hidden on a dusty top shelf in the store room of the Glass Museum in Malaga Spain? There is so much to learn, so many questions to answer and so little time for our heroes to unravel the clues and twists of history and legend. Join the hunt for the Heart and follow the trail where ever it leads, but don’t linger on the way or you may be consumed by the CREEPING DARK.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I have a life long fight with the English language, having very wobbly spelling and a tenuous grasp on grammar. As a result of this, I wrote as little as possible till the advent of word processing packages then at least I could correct some of my shortcomings. I have been a copywriter for mail order catalogues which broadened my vocabulary when trying to find yet another different way to describe several almost identical products. As part of my sales and marketing career, I had to make presentations and give them. This disciplined me to write logical timelines and produce impact at beginning and end. Try Public speaking some time, it’s a great way to improve your writing and bring an understanding of the difference between written and spoken language. At some time I would love to give poetry a serious try but I find the restriction of very few and precise words beyond me most of the time.

3. Who are your favourite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

The list is endless and it is very hard to pull out my favourite authors, but I will do my best not to write a book and bore you to death. Terry Pratchett and his Disc World books have given me immense joy over the years and great sorrow at his recent death. The vast imagination and joyous humour of his stories are beyond compare. My second choice is Neal Asher. He writes science fiction which explores the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence which could be hard work if his storylines and action packed plots didn’t drag the reader along at a breakneck pace. Steve McHugh is my third choice with his masterly interweaving of history, legend and the present day. Mix together magic, gods of every pantheon and a thrilling fast paced story line and you are in for a fast ride. Recently I have come across to new, independent authors who have gripped my reading. E.M. Swift-Hook who is currently producing the second trilogy in her fascinating story of the clash of medieval and sci-fi societies is a writer well worth getting to know. Her books are full of strong characters with plots that have more twists than a coil spring. The second is Robert Lee Beers. His books centre on a hard-bitten private eye whose cases cross the boundaries of time and the supernatural to give a fascinating insight into the ways of crime and evil. As all these writers have a number of books to their names, whichever one you pick you will have plenty to go at. 

4. What are your favourite genres to read and write? What are your favourite books?

I have a fairly catholic taste in reading material. My only must have is a good story line. I cannot bear are the sort of classic novels filled with dithering characters with too much money and time who fritter away their time on pointless trivia. I love Science fiction and fantasy both to read and write for the freedom to follow ideas to logical or illogical conclusions usually without getting locked up or causing wars or riots. I like military history as long as it’s not too packed with statistics and facts that they slow down the story. I read this, I don’t write it as I’m much too lazy to do the copious amounts of research necessary to get the facts straight. I have listed above some of my favourites but here I would include ant of Bernard Cornwell’s books particularly the Lords of the North series and the Sharpe series. Staying in the Napoleonic era I would also recommend any of Alexander Kent’s Bolitho books about the Royal Navy of that period. He can write a sea battle like no other and leave you wondering how any sailor survived the shot, shell and flying splinters. Just to show that I do read books by authors who are not British, I would include most of David Baldacci’s fiction books all of which are real page turners.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?10391697_105921086085058_4141656_n

I read. I am lucky enough to be retired so can usually find time to keep my, to read list, from getting too long. I have always loved reading as a method of learning and visiting new places and ideas. As a child, I went through many torch batteries while reading under the bed covers after official lights out time. Since I became a writer and discovered how much a review means to an author I also try to write a review of the books I read and would encourage everyone to do the same. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or erudite, just a few lines to say what you liked or what could be improved are of real value. My other great pleasure is listening to the radio. I know its old fashioned but the special effects have always been much better than television and the scenery always coincides with my ideas of what things look like. 

6. Who is your favourite character from your Sprocket Sagas?

It has to be Mrs. Mumbly. She is an English Bull Terrier and is the toughest dog you could imagine. If you are unfamiliar with the breed then look them up on Google. They are short haired, bullet-headed with pointed ears and whippy tails. They look very fierce but if you offer a hard dog biscuit and a scratch between the ears you will have a friend for life. These dogs are totally loyal to their friends and will defend their loved ones to the death. If you meet one, be a friend. Never cross the dog world’s answer to an armoured vehicle. 

7. How is it like living in Britain? What are some things you love about the United Kingdom? Do you guys drink a lot of tea there? (I had to ask!)

I love and hate the weather. In the same day, we can experience at least three seasons and need to change outfits to suit. I love the fact that the English, in particular, are not uptight about who we are. It makes me smile when our Celtic neighbours get wound up about the ‘Old Enemy’. Clinging to the past can have a very negative effect on a nation. 

Yes we do drink a lot of tea and are very choosy about what tea we drink and how we brew it. What most of Europe and most of America forget is that tea needs boiling water and that coffee machines do not get the water hot enough to make a good cup of tea. 

My other delight is the BBC. From an early age their Children’ Hours on the radio (now sadly no longer broadcast) fired my imagination and being able to watch a whole program without being interrupted by the banal drivel of adverts is a blessing afforded to very few.  51bgt51b3gL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

8. Your books feature dragons and take place in Dragon World! Would you like one as a pet, and why or why not?

Yes, I would like a dragon but not as a pet. My dragons are sentient beings, so keeping one as a pet would be like keeping a slave. I would love a dragon friend but most of them are too big for houses and their appearance would tend to terrify people. Also, they must be kept away from liquorice as it gives them hiccoughs and that combined with the ability to breathe fire or ice can lead to disaster. Having a Seeker Dragon as a friend would save a fortune in petrol and air fares as I could use portals as a means of getting about. One of my aims in life is to give dragons a better press. They have mostly played the villain in stories but that was because of humans being frightened of the unusual and our tendency to try to wipe out that which we find threatening.

9. What is a regular day of writing to you?

There isn’t a regular writing day for me. I am completely undisciplined and come and go to and from my laptop as the ideas hit me. I am something of a believer in Terry Pratchett’s theory that Ideas sleet through the multiverse till they collide with a mind and if you don’t write them down quickly they will move on to someone more receptive. In this way I drift from project to project sometimes working for long periods while the story line flows and at others, bumbling about in my shed or garden as ideas sleet past. Being retired and a self-published author I don’t have editors or publishers setting deadlines for me. What a marvellously unstructured existence I lead, at least till my grandchildren put the pressure on.

10. How do you combat writer’s block?

I’m lucky. It hasn’t been much of a problem for me but on the odd occasion when a story line gets stuck up a dead end, I go and do something else till bits drop into place then go back to where things started to go wrong and re-write from there. I am waiting for a breakthrough in the second Sci-Fi book to see if it will be one or two books but if I wait much longer then it is likely to be more fact than fiction.

11. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans for your writing career?P1020353

There are now six stories in the Sprocket sagas and my eldest granddaughter is putting the pressure on for another full-length book, a longer one as it only took her about a week to read the last one. 

I have also written a short Science Fiction book ‘Sea Change’ and am writing a much longer sequel. There is also a short story, ’A waste of Skin’ which I have yet to publish. As I am a member of a speaker’s club I will be writing a number of pieces for verbal presentation. Some of my past speeches have been put up on Niume and can be read there. Anything which is on that site with the exception of the serialisation of the first Sprocket book is free to download. Find me on Amazon to see all my books.

12. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

There is only one main tip and that is to write. Until you have written down your ideas you have nothing to work on. In this day and age it is easy to cut and paste a piece of work to put in additional material or to alter an idea which has run into a brick wall but until you have a basic story on the screen or page there is nothing to improve. So don’t waste time trying to come up with the perfect novel in your head, get on and write. 

Thank you so much, Bryan, for coming onto our blog!

Check out Bryan’s social media pages here!

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads

Here is the giveaway! We are giving away two Kindle e-copies of Sprocket and the Heart of the North! Enter the giveaway below! The rules are in the Terms & Conditions (make sure you read them!).

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Hope you have a wonderful week! And make sure you share! 🙂

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Home Blog Tour: Interview with Eleni McKnight

Hi guys! In two days, I am going to the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro, Tennessee! I am so excited! You know what else I’m excited for? This author interview with Eleni McKnight because of two reasons: 1) She is local author from TN! Yay! Go Volunteers! 2) She’s from Murfreesboro, the town I’m going to this Saturday! I hope you enjoy this interview!

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Home by Eleni McKnight home-front-cover-hirez

Genre: YA Dystopian

Release Date: November 22nd 2016

Summary from Goodreads: Knowledge is a Dangerous Commodity HOME – the last bastion of civilization in a corrupt and fallen world. Outside dwell the reanimated dead, cannibals, and scavengers; remnants of a once great race. Inside, the commune is ruled with an iron fist by Deacon, and administered without mercy by the Elders. Everyone knows their place in HOME. Everyone is safe in HOME…as long as you follow the rules. Handmaiden Suzannah Commons is content with training to be a wife and mother, the only occupation open to women in HOME. But her world is turned upside-down when she tastes the forbidden knowledge contained in outlawed books. Suzannah discovers a new way of life is possible, but that knowledge comes at a high price. It could cost her life. Or the life of the boy she loves. 

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About the Authoreleni-mcknight

Eleni McKnight is a Murfreesboro, Tennessee native. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Literature and a wild passion for creating clothes and doing make-up. She’s also an avid reader and loves music and theatre. She started writing at age eight when she had read all the Baby-Sitter’s Club books that were out and wanted something new to read. It’s never quite left her over the years These days, you can usually find Eleni working backstage or costuming in local community theatres, reading a book, walking (that FitBit is addictive!), at a concert, drinking a craft beer with friends, knitting, embroidering, or taking a dance class.

Author Links:

Email | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

 

Now onto the interview!

eleni

1. What is your book Home about?

“When did your ignorance become as good as my education?” sums it up in short. It’s a book about how reading can be dangerous because it opens your minds to new ideas and situations, and gives you empathy (which I think society is sorely lacking these days). Suzannah Commons is an innocent young Handmaiden who has always followed the rules. An accident happens, and her “purity” is compromised when she accidentally walks in on a naked boy while doing her chores. In her purity-centered religious culture, the message is that the loss of virginity was her loss of a huge part of her as a person, and as she tries to redeem her soul, she begins to open her mind to new ideas when she begins reading books, making her dangerous.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

Wow, that’s so me. I grew up with a teacher for a mother, and she got me into reading big time. I loved the Baby-Sitter’s Club books and when I wanted to read more of them, but couldn’t go to the store for more books because I was eight-year-old and didn’t have money to get them, I decided to write my own books! Writing has gotten me through some severe depression in the past (along with therapy, and I think everybody needs a therapist to unload on and talk to!) and it’s helped me document my life a little bit, if not in writing, by how I was feeling and thinking at the time.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

I’d definitely say Ann M. Martin started me down the path. She will forever hold a special place in my heart due to that. Judy Blume made a huge impact on me too, teaching me that reading could be fun and enjoyable, not a chore (like the Superfudge books).  I loved Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Anne Shirley series by L.M. Montgomery, too. I was also crazy about scary stuff, too, so I loved horror like R.L. Stine’s Fear Street (but never Goosebumps) and Christopher Pike as a teen, too, but it more started with my love of the book Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe. I love paranormal books, too, so I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula and general classical horror novels, now I like Stephen King too. But I always wanted to write YA because my teen years were a difficult and confusing time in my life (hey, whose weren’t?). I didn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood until after I finished Home, and I’m happy I did, because it’s become one of my favorite novels, and it shares a lot unintentionally with my book. I am so excited about the series that’s coming soon! I like her work a lot, too, especially The Edible Woman.

4. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I like embroidery, sewing and costuming, cross-stitching, theatre, knitting, make-up, and candle-making. I know that’s a lot of hobbies, but I try to make it work, you know? I work during the day, so writing is my part-time gig!

5. Since the society in your book has outlawed books, what is one banned book that you loved reading, and would you want schools to read it? home-front-cover-hirez

I LOVE BANNED BOOKS! I’d much rather be on the Banned Book List because that means I’ve “made it” as an author! Not yet, but I’m working on it… I loved The Giver by Lois Lowry. I think this one is so important for kids to read and understand: it’s good to challenge authority by asking WHY we have certain rules, not just going along with them. I also think it’s good for kids to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury in high school, because it gives them an idea of how futile and horrifying war truly is that you can’t really get from a history textbook. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie spoke volumes to me, because I did not grow up on an Indian Reservation, and I never understood what people who were in different economic conditions than I was survived. Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret was a great book by Judy Blume because it covered a lot of the bullying and the realization and empathy that comes in school, but it didn’t have an after-school special kind of ending to it.

6. What would you do if the zombie apocalypse struck unexpectedly?

I’d probably get a blow torch and take out as many of those suckers as possible! Are they zombies induced to come at you when there’s noise? Because I can be very quiet. But, I’d also be a bad ass driving away on a motorcycle like Daryl Dixon on Walking Dead with a cross bow strapped to my back.

7. On your website, you say you want to write for a TV show or movie. What about the TV or movie industry attracts you to want a career in it?

That’s a great question, and I love answering this. I actually majored in theatre at UT. I’ve always dreamt of acting, because it’s telling a story. A lot of the times, I can empathize with someone who is a good actor and can portray the conflict of the situation. It opens up my mind a lot and gets me thinking. I want to be a part of that, maybe one day.

8. I see you love music and theater! I love them both, too! What is your favorite play or musical? What is also your favorite song or musician?

SQUEE! Another theatre person!! I love the play My Fair Lady because it had an ending where Eliza came back as Henry Higgins’s equal. I love Shakespeare, I used to do a lot of that, too, my favorite play being Twelfth Night. And my favorite song is “As Long as I Can See the Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, it’s not a musical song. If you want that, I love the song “Anything Goes,” because it’s so catchy and you can do some great choreography to it.

9. If your readers had to get one message from this book, what would it be?

That reading is so important. And so is equality, even if you think you already have it, a lot of people in this world don’t, so always work towards it.

10. What is your go-to cure for writer’s block?

Finding an inspiring read. The best one though, is sometimes taking a break from writing and re-entering the real world and reconnecting with friends.

11. I’m from Tennessee, too! What is one thing you love about Tennessee and one thing you wish was better about the state?

eleni-mcknightOMG, really?!?! SQUEE! The best parts of being from Tennessee is the amount of people who always volunteer to help after a disaster. You never have to worry about getting help, we are the Volunteer State for a reason. I think the worst part: we are landlocked 😦 I love the beach!

12. Have you written any other works? What are your current plans with your writing career?

I have written several books that I had to shelve. I really want to write a paranormal series that I’ve renamed and rewritten about fifteen times that right now, I’m calling the Magi Chronicles. I know it will take a lot of passion and work to do all that I wish to with it. I really want to write more Young Adult (that’s maybe not so dark) in the future. I plan on writing contemporary romance under a pen name, too, but that’s a ways off. And like I said, I’d LOVE to become a film and television writer, but that’s a long shot. It would be nice to be able to put food on the table and roof over my head with a savings account in the bak from writing alone, but I’m not sure if that’s even feasible. For now, I just want to get my work out there and get it read by people!

13. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Be passionate about what you write. Try to write every day, even if you don’t feel like it. If you need inspiration, look inside yourself at the things that you are passionate about and try to write about that, even if you think it’ll never get read. And don’t read your reviews (at least the non-professional ones)!

Thank you so much for coming on our blog, Eleni! It was nice having a local author on LILbooKlovers!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

 

GIVEAWAY:

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Blog Tour Organized by:

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The Secret Billionaire Blog Tour: Interview with Teymour Shahabi

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Hi guys! Happy Friday! Welcome to one of the final tour stops for THE SECRET BILLIONAIRE Blog Tour!!! Woo hoo! Look at that pretty cover! This book is really intriguing, and you should read it! Also, we are hosting Teymour Shahabi on our blog, too, in a special interview! Hope you enjoy our tour stop and grab the book!

The Secret Billionaire by Teymour Shahabi the-secret-billionaire

Genre: YA Mystery

Release Date: September 2016

Summary from Goodreads: 1960s — March 24. Billionaire Lyndon Surway takes off in his private plane and never returns.  His will leaves the entirety of his wealth—one of the largest fortunes in history—to his “dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. And the fortune itself is nowhere to be found. Andrew Day knows nothing of wealth and privilege, but he won a scholarship to study at the most exclusive school in the country, in the town where the mystery, decades later, remains unsolved. There he discovers friendship and danger with the aristocratic Cameron and the beautiful Olivia. But watchful eyes follow him everywhere… Until, one night, he comes across a secret that will change his life. As he begins to unravel what really happened to the Surway fortune, the question remains: who is Lucian Baker?

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About the Authorunspecified-3

Teymour Shahabi was born in Paris in 1985 of Persian parents. He moved to the United States to study Comparative Literature and Mathematics at Harvard University. He currently lives in New York City, where he’s spent the last few years among serious grownups who probably have no idea he’s doing this. The Secret Billionaire is his first published book.  You can watch (and help) him try to figure out writing and life at www.youtube.com/PageWingChannel.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

And now onto the interview!

teymour-shahabi

1. How would you describe The Secret Billionaire?the-secret-billionaire

>> The Secret Billionaire is a young adult mystery novel. It tells the story of an enormous fortune that a tycoon left in his will for “his dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. Decades later, three high school students set out to solve the mystery.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

>> I love the two main components of writing: storytelling and language. (I suppose I’m cheating, because then I should explain why I love each of these two… But writers are good at using words to cheat – surely you know that already J) I’ve loved writing as long as I can remember. I would stay up writing in secret, with a flashlight, as a kid. And I have embarrassing proof locked away in my closets.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

>> I work full-time in a field that has nothing to do with writing, and I’m incredibly lucky to love my job. I’m even more fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who support and even celebrate my writing. And by challenging me and teaching me in ways that are seemingly completely unrelated to fiction, they constantly help me grow as a person – and therefore as a writer.

4. If you received an entire fortune, what would you do with the money?

>> I would do five things exactly: (1) share the wealth my family; (2) help support causes that matter infinitely more than my writing – in particular children’s medical research; (3) build Iron Man’s house; (4) start a business; (5) keep on writing.

5. Do you like to go about solving mysteries? If you could, would you be a detective?

>> Sure – but I’d need: (a) a creepy real-life movie score playing wherever I go; (b) an awesome raincoat.

6. Which literary character would you pick as a sidekick? It could be one as a detective sidekick, a writing sidekick, a vlogging sidekick, whatever you like!teymour

>> I want White Fang, the wolfdog of Jack London’s novel, to be with me at all times. I would have given you the same answer twenty-two years ago. I’ve made my peace with it.

7. It’s so cool that you have your own Youtube channel! What is it like being a vlogger? Do you have some tips to making a great video, especially one about books?

>> Thanks! The channel made a huge difference for me: it allowed me to connect with strangers from all over the world who helped me every step of the way (for example by voting among possible covers – or even telling me whether toward or towards sounds better). More importantly, they became my first readers – and some of the most encouraging friends I’ve ever encountered. I’ve found that the best way to make a good video (about books or anything else) is to be yourself. Nothing is more compelling than the opportunity to connect with a real person.

8. How was it like winning three awards for the Best Young Adult Book at three book festivals last year?

>> It is an extremely joyous and strangely personal feeling. It feels like a hug from people you’ve never met. I don’t know about achievements in other fields, but there’s something deeply emotional and intimate about winning an award for a book. Each time, the first thing I do is tell my family. Perhaps it’s because I feel honored, grateful, and humbled beyond belief – these are all emotions best shared with the people you love the most.

9. What do you do if you are not reading, writing, or doing anything book-related?

>> I daydream about food. But you could guess that from the book. I’m also a big movie guy. So put on a movie and give me a pancake. We’ll be best friends.

10. How do you want your book to impact your readers? What is the message you want readers to get from The Secret Billionaire?unspecified-3

>> Nothing makes me happier than hearing from readers. I feel a combination of profound thankfulness and love (I was going to say friendship – but really, love) for anyone who tells me that the book kept them reading late at night, or made them miss a train stop. But as for the message of the book…  I wouldn’t want to share my own assumptions with readers, especially since I’ve seen some incredibly thoughtful and generous reviews about the book’s message on Amazon.

11. What are your current plans with your writing career?

>> Every time I read a new reader review, I feel the strength to write for a whole new chapter for the sequel! More immediately, I’m almost done recording the audiobook for The Secret Billionaire, which I’m very excited to release.

12. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

>> I have only one: just write, gratefully and joyously, as if the world needed you to write. It does!

Thank you so much, Teymour, for coming onto our blog! I loved your answers!

 

Now onto the giveaway!

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Blog Tour Organized by:

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Exclusive Interview with K. M. Robinson

Hi guys! One of my most anticipated reads for 2017 is Golden by K. M. Robinson, and she is one of the closest authors I know! I am so glad that I have the opportunity to interview her! Golden is coming exactly in one month on March 28th with Snowy Wings Publishing, and you should definitely read it! I know I’m going to soon! Hope you enjoy this interview!

k-m-robinson

1. How you would pitch Golden to me if you had one shot to convince me to read it?golden-cover-reveal-feb-9-2017-by-k-m-robinson

What if I told you that Goldilocks wasn’t innocent…or a child…or naïve? What if I told she didn’t just wander into the bears’ house…or that the Baers weren’t actual bears?

Now what if I told you Goldilocks was actually highly trained and sent on a mission to destroy the Baers by getting close to the youngest…and if her deception is uncovered, they will all be in danger?

Goldilocks has the ability to take down an entire society…until Dov Baer messes those plans up. Now that Goldilocks is forced to betray everyone, not even she has hope of surviving.

This is not the Goldilocks you thought you knew.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I enjoy writing because it lets me tell the stories I was looking for but couldn’t find. I like to consider myself a creator of new worlds, both in my writing and in my photography, so creating these stories gives me the opportunity to assemble these places that wouldn’t otherwise exist. I love that creation…they are something that never existed and couldn’t be built by anyone else. It’s amazing.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

This is a hard one! I have so much admiration for my friend, Lisa Brown Roberts. She writes YA contemporary romance, which isn’t a genre I typically prioritize when reading, but this woman is so skilled and so funny that I would drop anything to read her books. She transports me in her stories and makes the world we live in so much more fascinating, which is so incredibly hard to do. I can not praise her work enough.

My other favorites are actually in the question below, so I’ll let you skip down to check that out.

As for influence, I would say Veronica Roth had a big impact on me because she gave me the freedom to have “real” endings. When things happen within a story, I want to see the consequences play out…not some happily ever after where actions go unpunished and no one gets hurt. All actions have consequences, so when that doesn’t follow through in a story, that annoys me. I love a happy ending, I really do, but there can be happiness after some scars too. She gave me permission to follow through and create real endings that aren’t always wrapped in a pretty box with a sparkly bow.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

Retellings and dystopians are my favorite. I love books like Divergent and The Hunger Games. Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki is one of my favorites. I also like Kierra Cass’ The Selection Series because I’m such a huge fan of princess stories and love stories.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

When I’m not writing, I am a professional fine arts conceptual photographer, and I educator authors, book reviewers, and entrepreneurs through Reading Transforms on marketing, branding and social media strategy. There’s a lot of overlap in all of those things (surprisingly) so together it’s full time, but if I were to take writing out and look at it separately, it would definitely be a part time thing at the moment, only because this is my first book and I won’t make enough money to go full time until I have at least a handful of books out.

6. Why did you choose to make this book a retelling of Goldilocks instead of another fairy tale? What drew you to Goldilocks and the Three Bears?

Everyone ignores Goldilocks. There are billions of Little Mermaid/Cinderella/Snow White/Sleeping beauty retellings…but everyone ignores Goldilocks. I find it completely unfair! **dramatic hand to forehead** 

But in all seriousness, I’ve been obsessed with Goldilocks since I was young because we have the same hair.

When I would walk into a store and when I found myself in the hair care aisle, I would match my color to the colors of hair dye. It always matched ‘gold” or “golden” and it was never that white-blonde color people assume Goldilocks’ hair is. I was always annoyed that she was portrayed as a white-blonde, when she clearly had my hair color (as named by the hair dye section of the store.)

For years I thought about her and never really cared for the story I was presented with. I’m a fan of “the real story behind the story,” so I was obsessed with knowing why she was in the bears’ house. Eventually I decided to actually write the story, made the bears into a family of Baers, shifted their roles around a bit, and then I gave Goldilocks a dangerous reason for being there, and suddenly I had my answers.

7. If you could be any fairy tale character, who would you be and why?

This is so hard. My go-to response is a princess, but I’m not even sure which one-I have five favorites. I think, if I was forced to chose, I’d have to say The Little Mermaid, because she’s a mermaid AND she gets to wear fancy dresses when she’s on land. I’ve always had a fondness for mermaids and the water!

8. Which character was the easiest to write? Who was the hardest to write?

Within Golden, Auluria was the easiest to write, just because I knew what decisions she SHOULD make, and what decisions she COULD make, and then I tended to ask her to make the ones that would have the most painful outcomes.

The hardest to write was Eden because it was such a fine balance between making her harsh and giving her a heart but only allowing her to show glimpses of it. She has a crazy background that really plays into everything too.

9. Golden is full of secrets and surprises! Did you ever surprise yourself whenever you included something shocking, or did you plan them all out from the beginning? Are there any hints you would like to give out?

I frequently find myself surprised at some of the things that happen within my stories. My characters tend to surprise me more than anything. I’ll write a minor character who was only supposed to be in for a scene or two and suddenly they’re so important that they’re demanding their own spin offs! No joke-you’ll meet one of those characters that wormed their way in to my story in the series I have coming out in June, called Jaded.

As far as hints for Golden…no one is as they seem at first. Every situation has more than one side. There are also some secrets I’ve hidden in the story that do not affect the story line but are really cool extras (usually about the characters) that fans can find out by joining my live broadcasts and interviews that will give new depth to the entire story.

Also, there are hidden pictures and symbols within the chapter header graphics. You’ll have to use both hands to count them all…more than once.

10. You are a professional photographer! What do you love about photography? Do you have any tips and tricks you would like to share with us?k-m-robinson-author-photo

I am! Photography is my outlet. It’s where I express my feelings, good and bad. If I’m happy, I create an image. If I’m upset, I create an image. And when I can’t, it’s like I can’t breathe. I love it!

As far as advice: study, study, study. I take between 500-800 hours of continuing education every single year. I’m never done learning. And if you don’t take the time to learn it and learn it really really well, you’ll never survive. Creating new worlds in imagery takes so much training and practice to make it believable. I couldn’t always do the things I can do now, I had to put the effort into it and understand that I will never be done improving my craft.

Also, learn the business side of things. A lot of creatives focus on the creative side and forget to learn how to run the business side of things. This goes for all creative jobs, including being an author.

11. How did you decide upon publishing your books with Snowy Wings Publishing?

It was a very long journey, actually. A few years ago I wrote the book and then did nothing with it. Eventually some people convinced me to do something with it, so I did a ton of research and submitted it to a few publishers I liked and trusted. I had a lot of interest, even some offers, but ultimately I turned them all down because they weren’t the right fit. The Snowy Wings came along and had so much of what I was looking for-the rest was history!

12. When you have a case of writer’s block, what is your go-to cure?

I typically work on more than one story at once, that way if I hit a wall with one, I can bounce over to a different manuscript and work on that for a few hours, and then come back to the one I was having trouble with. That almost always works. If it doesn’t, I do something else creative-fine arts conceptual photography, dress making, costume creation, etc-and that usually gets the creative thoughts flowing enough to jump back in!

13. How does it feel like to be a debut author? Could you describe some of your emotions when you found out you were going to be published?

It’s interesting. For so long I hadn’t planned on being a published writer, and then I got those books deals and thought “this is it, it’s real,” but then I ended up turning them down, and for a year I did nothing. I completely moved on with life. Now suddenly my books are being published and for awhile it just “was.” But now that I can hold the printed books in my hands, now that my swag is arriving in the mail, now that people are reviewing my book…it’s suddenly VERY real. Sometimes it’s the coolest thing in the world, and other times, it’s just part of everyday life.

It definitely became real when I opened my first box of proof books in a life broadcast over on my Facebook page. Now I’m speaking at schools, people I know are commenting on my book and asking questions, I’m working with bloggers and booktubers. It is now a very real part of my life and it’s pretty fun!

14. What are your current plans with your writing career?

I intend to keep writing. I have a second series debuting in June. I also have a number of other projects with “things happening” so we’ll see where all of that goes.

15. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

You can do this. Find positive influences in your life and let them help you stay on track and stay inspired. Do not listen to the people that tear you down-writing is subjective and not everyone will like your work. It’s okay for people to not like it.

Take the time to learn the business side of writing. Understand marketing, study branding, learn social media strategy, find people who know more that you do and become friends with them and learn from them. Get to know the industry and avoid making common mistakes that people don’t know about until they’ve already made them. Don’t go into this blind-take the time to learn and present yourself as a professional.

And finally, keep record of everything-you will use it later. Document your writing journey, from the desk where you wrote, to the things you were thinking, to the text messages your beta readers sent you. Keep a file and pull it out when it’s time to market or you need a pick-me-up after someone said something discouraging. You’ll thank yourself later for keeping these memories and feelings.

You’ve got this-don’t give up!

Thanks so much, Katie, for coming onto our blog! Can’t wait to read your book!

If you want to check out Katie’s book or social media accounts, or Snowy Wings Publishing (and join the Street Team!), click the links below!

Connect with K.M. Robinson
 
Connect with Snowy Wings Publishing

Exclusive Interview + GIVEAWAY with Elle Cosimano

 

Hi guys! So I just finished a really good book called Holding Smoke, and I am so glad to be hosting Elle Cosimano today in an exclusive interview with her! Also, she is giving away a hardcover copy of Holding Smoke in the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this page, so I urge you to check it out! Enough said, let’s get on with the interview and giveaway!

elle-cosimanoElle Cosimano grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs, the daughter of a maximum security prison warden and an elementary school teacher who rode a Harley. She spent summers working on a fishing boat in the Chesapeake Bay, baiting hooks, scrubbing decks, and lugging buckets of chum. A failed student of the hard sciences, she discovered her true calling in social and behavioral studies while majoring in psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Fifteen years later, Elle set aside a successful real-estate career to pursue writing. She lives with her husband and two sons in Northern Virginia and Mexico.

Elle’s debut, Nearly Gone, was a 2015 Edgar Award finalist and winner of the International Thriller Award. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Horror Writers Association, and Sisters In Crime. She was selected for the 2012 Nevada SCBWI Agented & Published Authors’ Mentorship Program, where she worked under the guidance of Ellen Hopkins. She attended the Writers’ Police Academy at Guilford Technical Community College, Department of Public Safety, to conduct hands-on research for her books.

holding-smokeJohn “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders-but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they’re asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn’t care that the “threads” that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink’s help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he’s willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

2017 Nominee for the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in dark fantasy and horror writing

My Mini-Review (Full to Come Later!)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author in exchange for a review. I also got some free signed swag- this is outside of the trade agreement. None of these factors will affect my review.

Rating: 9/10 stars

Overall Thoughts: I really liked this book! It was very well-written, and it definitely does leave an impact on you. I was creeped out at times because it was very haunting and chilling. This is one of those books that you’ll just go “Wow” at the end. I know, because that happened to me!

Pros

  • That ending. I never saw it coming! You’ll never predict it!
  • It will make an impact on you! There’s an article by the author at the end that have the potential to change your outlook on the world. I know I was just amazed by it- it links well with the ending!
  • Hooks you in emotionally, especially with the flashbacks and vivid imagery

Cons

  • I started to lose interest in the middle, but the ending hooked me back it.
  • Some details were a bit off to me. Sometimes I didn’t know if Smoke was in his body or not, and other times I wondered how these events stringed together.

Recommendation: Definitely!

elle

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love storytelling in all forms. I love reading stories, watching them, listening to them, and I enjoy creating stories of my own. I think it goes beyond the escapism. For me, the fascination is in the discovery process, both of the characters within the tale but also of my self. When I was a kid, I had an uncle who would read fables and fairy tales aloud to me when I came to visit. We would talk about the characters and their struggles–why they made the choices they made and how they felt about those choices. These were formative moments for me, and in hindsight, I can see how strongly they’ve influenced the kinds of stories I write today.

2. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?elle-cosimano

The first book I really, deeply connected with was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I read her books over and over again. Her characters were so real to me, so alive and layered, each one unique. It was amazing to me, that she could achieve that kind of depth of character and richness of setting in such a short book, or that she could make me feel so much within so few pages. To this day, I still gravitate toward books that make me care the way this book did–stories and characters that make me laugh or cry or shout out in public places. When I write, my goal is to make a reader feel.

3. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I love thrillers and suspense of all kinds, and I appreciate a touch of mystery in anything I read. In adult fiction, I enjoy crime thrillers and psychological suspense. When it comes to YA, I also gravitate toward books with a touch of magic, paranormal, or fantasy in them. And I love a good atmospheric ghost story for any age! When mystery, thrills, and speculative elements are combined, that’s often the perfect combination for me.  

4. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I’m Mom to two very busy boys, ages 11 and 14, so my time is divided between writing and Mom-ing. I retired from a long career in real estate to write books, and writing has been my career every since. As for what I do when I’m not writing? I live on a beautiful stretch of beach, and it’s a great place to plot murder. . .  errr. . .  I mean to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

5. Would you want to have a power like Smoke’s, even with all the risks? Why or why not?

Smoke’s ability (astral projection) came at a pretty steep price–a near-death experience at the hands of someone who was supposed to care for him. I don’t envy any of the experiences Smoke endured in order to possess the ability to separate his spirit from his body. I can’t imagine anything more painful than suffering that, or feeling so broken you might never be whole again. So no, I don’t think I would ever want an ability like Smoke’s. 

6. How much research did you have to put into Holding Smoke since it takes place in a prison in Denver? What did you learn?

When I was growing up, my father was a warden of a maximum security prison just outside of Washington, DC. Over the years, he managed institutions which housed some of our nation’s most violent offenders, so I had a great resource for a lot of my questions, and have visited him at the prison, and also at a detention center (jail) before. I attended a special police academy for writers where I was able to take classes on cell searches and talk with corrections officers about their experiences, as well as do a ride-along with a deputy sheriff who answered a lot of questions about arrest procedures and responding to domestic violence calls for me. I interviewed EMS responders and ER physicians for answers to several medical questions. I interviewed a lawyer regarding some of my legal questions. And as for the setting, I lived in Denver for two years, so I was already familiar with the region. As for what I learned? Well, I wrote about that in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. But you can read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elle-cosimano/the-good-the-bad-and-the-_9_b_5922654.html

7. How does it feel like living in a tree house on a Caribbean island? I bet the view must be beautiful and breath-taking there!

I don’t live on an island, though that might be nice! I live in Mexico, on a stretch of the eastern coast called the Riviera Maya. My community is tucked between the Caribbean Sea and the jungle (but I can see the island of Cozumel on a very clear day from the beach across the street.) My house is mostly open-air, and the living spaces are under a palapa, a thatch roof made from dried grass or dried palm leaves. The support poles are made from trunks of very hard wood trees called zapote, giving it the look and feel of a tree house. It’s very peaceful. We live simply here, mostly outside, and it’s a great place to raise the kids. I also get very interesting critters in my kitchen sometimes. . .  scorpions, snakes, pumas, and spiders the size of my face. I post a lot of pics of my home on my Instagram. You can see a pic of me in my treehouse here: http://www.instagram.com/p/x4jF9rJnaz/

8. The title of your book Holding Smoke is a play on Smoke’s nickname. Why did you choose Smoke as the name of your protagonist, and how you did come up with the title?

Honestly, I can’t remember when his name came to me. I was doing a lot of research and reading about Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Lots of people described their experiences very similarly . . . seeing themselves from outside themselves, almost as if they were in ghost form looking down on their own bodies. Several reported that their NDEs left them with the ability to project their souls at will. So in my mind, Smoke’s astral form was very wispy and ghostlike. But word choice is important. It reflects the narrator’s voice and the lens through which they see their world. A “hardened” kid in a dangerous world probably wouldn’t call himself “Wispy”. But he might just be okay calling himself Smoke. It felt like a fit, both to his voice as well as within his setting.

9. What is your favorite quote from this book, and is there a message you want your readers to get from Holding Smoke?

“The way you look when you project yourself, the places you can go, the things you haven’t figured out how to do yet. . . it’s all in your head.” — Pink, Holding Smoke

This is my favorite quote from the book, and perfectly encapsulates the message I wanted readers to take away from Smoke’s story.

10.  Do you have any tips for any aspiring authors or writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Everything you need to become a writer? It’s all in your head.
Now onto the giveaway!!!
Click below to win a hardcover edition of Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano!
Just a few quick notes:
1) This is a US Only giveaway (sorry Int’l).
2) You must be 18 years or older or have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter.
3) No PO Boxes. You must have an address to have the book sent.
4) Be truthful! All entries that do not do what the instructions are will not be counted!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I wish you the best, and happy reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Exclusive Interview with Erin Beaty!

Hello! Last week on the #BBTC Twitter Chat (hosted by the lovely Brittany’s Book Rambles!), I got to meet a wonderful author whose debut book is probably one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! The Traitor’s Kiss sounded so amazing that I wanted to interview Erin Beaty so much, and I’m so happy that I’m able to host her on our blog! It was so fun last week, and to those that were there with me last week (or to those who were not), here is my exclusive interview! Go pre-order it today! TTK comes out May 9, 2017!

erin-beaty-credit

1. In your own words, how would you describe The Traitor’s Kiss?

ttk
Kester Note: By the way, look at that pretty cover!
When I was pitching the story to agents and later to publishers, I called it “Jane Eyre meets Mulan.” It’s about a girl who lives in a society where the vast majority of marriages are made through a system of matchmakers. Sage is completely unsuited for marriage herself, but she gets hired as the matchmaker’s apprentice, and a big part of the job is spying on people. They’re headed to a national marriage conference with a group of specially selected brides when Sage gets romantically involved with one of the soldiers from their ceremonial escort. The problem is, she has to lie about who she is, but so does he. In the middle of all this secret-keeping from each other, they uncover a treasonous plot that threatens to plunge the whole kingdom into civil war.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

Until very recently, writing was something I only did on the side. Growing up, I loved to read, but I was all about science and math, and writing was just another skill to master. My dad was pretty insistent on communicating clearly, and I would often go 15 rounds with him on various history and English papers- and this was back before Microsoft Word! I studied engineering in college, but I did so well in my humanities classes, a few professors suggested I change majors. And somehow I always roped into doing the write-ups in our group projects. Did I like writing? Sort of. Mostly I was just glad our lab results were presented clearly.

Years later I had a blog, but it was mainly to keep family in the loop about our lives as we moved around the country. People who read it were always telling me I should write a book. I thought that was just weird until one day I got hit with an idea so hard I actually sat down and started typing. Now I’m like, why did it take me so long to realize writing is awesome?

Really, though, I look back over years of blog entries, and I see a lot of improvement in my story-telling. I wasn’t ready until now, so I don’t feel too bad about waiting this long to start.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

I really do love Jane Austen, because she has this dry, observational wit and her heroines don’t compromise what’s important. I love the precision of Michael Crichton and Robert Heinlein (and their science) and the historical narratives of Michael and Jeff Shaara. As a teen, I was all about Tamora Pierce, but her influence was more in living rather than writing. I’ve been pretty eclectic in my reading, though, and I don’t know if I can really nail down where my style comes from. Even now when I read books I feel like I’m learning something craft-wise. I think I will always be evolving.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I read whatever sounds interesting, and generally contemporary is lower on the list- I guess I never felt like I fit in my own time. You can be pretty certain I will never write a contemporary novel. I like sci-fi and fantasy, but I can be picky about it, especially if I think it’s going to take a lot of effort to understand the world. I adore historical fiction, but it has to be accurate.

My all-time favorite book is Michael Crichton’s Timeline, because quantum physics and medieval history make my nerd heart beat fast, and this has both. Other books I’ve read over and over are everything by Jane Austen, Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, and Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and his short story anthology The Past Through Tomorrow. All those had huge influence on me in my teens and twenties, and I go back to them like comfort food.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

Oh lordy. I have five kids and am married to a Navy man, so my life revolves mostly around running a household and moving every two years. The only reason I have time to write is because I’m anti-social. I’d say it’s part-time, but I don’t have any other real paying job, though I teach at the local writing center. Until we move again, that is.

6. Would you want to be a spy? If so, what would be your code name? What would also be your dream mission?

erin-beaty
Photo by Devon Shanor
I think I’d be a terrible spy- even calling people on the phone makes me hyperventilate, but I might be able to handle the type of spying Sage does. She kind of studies people like a naturalist studies ants. My code name would be Mama Bear, and the best mission I could handle would be where I’ve got a background job, but I’m really looking for signs of human trafficking or abuse.

7. Before you started your writing career, you worked in the U.S. Navy as a weapons officer. How was being in the Navy like? How did your experiences help you write this book?

There were so many good things and bad things, but I honestly don’t think most of the bad things were that unique to the military. Jerks and incompetence exist everywhere. There was sexism, yes, but also incredible support and empowerment. I learned so much about myself- what I was capable of, what my weaknesses were, and what was ultimately important to me in life. I learned how to prioritize and how to get stuff done. There were miserable times, but I dealt with them and came out stronger. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

There’s nothing specific in THE TRAITOR’S KISS that relates to lessons I learned, but there’s an underlying theme of what it means to be a leader, especially a military one.

8. Your novel is “Jane Austen meets an espionage twist!” Which Jane Austen character can you relate with the most? Which character relates to Sage Fowler, the protagonist of The Traitor’s Kiss, the most?

Is it vain to say Lizzie Bennet for myself? She sees the absurdity in everything and so distances herself from the world a bit. Sage is actually more like Jane Eyre than any other literary character – she starts with bitterness and loss, and she’s probably rougher around the edges than any of Austen’s characters. Definitely doesn’t have any of their refined manners.

9. In your own opinion, what is your favorite quote from your novel?

The one that always makes me smile is when Sage goes to apologize to the matchmaker and says, “You see, the way this works is, I say I’m sorry for the horrible things I said, and then you say you’re sorry for the horrible things you said. Then we smile and pretend we believe each other.”

10. If your book was turned into a movie, who would you want as the director and cast?

I love Kenneth Branaugh as a director (and an actor, but I don’t see a part for him). I’d always envisioned Duke D’Amiran looking like Richard Armitage, which is interesting because I think he’s kind of hot, and the character is the main bad guy. Majel Barrett would have been a great matchmaker, but that’s not possible. There’s an actress named McKenna Knipe who kind of has Sage’s looks, but I have no idea if her acting is any good. All the guys I can think of are too old. Wouldn’t mind sitting around looking at candidates all day, though.

11. Could you describe your reaction when you found out you were going to be published?

When my agent called to say I was going to an acquisition board at Macmillan, I was ironing a bunch of shirts for an upcoming wedding. I very carefully set the iron to the side and sat down on the couch behind me and said, “What?” Then I started shaking all over. For the rest of the evening, I was bumping into things left and right.

A week later I was lying on a bed at my in-laws’ house, staring at the ceiling and waiting for the results of said board. When my agent called to say I had an official offer, I just closed my eyes and shook my head for about ten minutes. Then I got up and got all the kids dressed for the wedding’s rehearsal dinner, where I imbibed heavily.

12. What is your go-to cure when you get a case of writer’s block?

I break out old fashioned notebooks. Writing things out by hand unlocks the creative part of my mind. But if my brain is just tired or stressed, I’ll watch a movie or read a favorite book. The book or movie has to be something I’m already familiar with, though, so there’s no real effort to understand what’s going on.

13. Do you have a favorite snack, drink, or song you like to listen to when you write?

erin
Photo by Devon Shanor

It’s hard to eat and type or write, so I often have chai or lattes on hand. I’ll snack while I edit sometimes. I have a few mood playlists, but interestingly, I can’t listen to anything with words if I’m editing, only writing.

14. As a debut author, what is one thing you wish someone told you before you started writing and publishing?

I’m kind of glad I didn’t know how much work it would be or I might have chickened out. There were many things I heard over and over – that each level of success only brings a new (and often worse) kind of stress, that I would experience horrible jealousies over other writers’ successes, and that I would leave some of my early writing friends behind – so I expected them, but I was unprepared for how they felt.

15. What are your current plans with your writing career?

I guess I’ll just keep writing books as long as it’s fun and people want to read them. I have several stories I want to develop, but right now life (moving) is getting in the way, and the priority in writing is finishing what has now become a trilogy. I let the writing genie out of the bottle, though, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put it back.

16. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Critique other people’s work (in a partnership), and learn how to do it well (it’s not easy). That was the best thing for finding the problems in my own writing. And write what you would want to read. Believe it or not, there’s lots of people out there who will like it, too. 

Thank you so much, Erin, for coming onto our blog! I loved your answers! I’m so excited to get The Traitor’s Kiss in May!

If you want to get some more of Erin Beaty through her social media accounts, or if you want to pre-order her book, check out the links below!

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

I’ll try to be at #BBTC tonight for anyone who wants to join me!

Do you like the classics like Jane Austen’s books? Do you like books infused with espionage? Will you pre-order this book, or is your interest piqued? What’s your most anticipated 2017 read? Comment below with your thoughts!

Til Next Time! ~ Kester

Exclusive Interview with Austin Aslan

Hi guys! Today I have an exclusive interview with an author that is very sentimental to me! It was actually become of Austin Aslan’s books that started my love for Young Adult fiction. I was so hesitant to read The Islands at the End of the World at first because of the length, but when I picked it up and opened it, I devoured it! It’s up in my favorites because it means so much to me! I’m so happy I’m able to interview this wonderful author, and I hope you enjoy this interview!

austin-aslan

 

1. What are your books The Islands at the End of the World and The Girl at the Center of the World about?sandiego1-body

Hi, Kester. Thanks for inviting me onto your blog. I’m excited to be here. ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD is a young adult disaster/survival novel with science-fiction elements. The story involves a catastrophic global blackout but it takes place entirely on the Hawaiian Islands. It’s about a 16 year-old girl named Leilani who is half white, half Hawaiian. She lives on the Big Island but she and her father are on the island of Oahu when the global blackout happens. The islands are suddenly thrust into darkness and isolation. No one knows what’s going on. As days without electricity, without airplane travel, and without food/gas shipments turn to weeks, tensions grow, hunger sets in, and the situation on the islands becomes desperate and violent. Lei and her dad set off on their own to get home to the Big Island by any means necessary. A lot of crazy things happen in this book, and there are some cool science-fiction things going on, too, but this novel is really about a strong father/daughter relationship that’s strained to the limits on a dangerous journey to get back home to family.

The sequel, THE GIRL AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, continues the saga started in the first book. GIRL is different from book one in a number of crucial ways. The difficult geography of Hawai`i, the sense of separation, the urgency to get home—these are all powerful, compelling story elements that come together to make ISLANDS wholly unique. Developing a fresh, exciting sequel to such a singular story was quite a challenge. With GIRL, I wasn’t interested in trying to repeat the feel of ISLANDS out of some unspoken sense of obligation to match what I had already done. I wanted to engage in a new kind of storytelling and a new set of scenarios. The important thing is that I returned to the characters! I think I hit just the right mix of old and new with GIRL.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I’ve always been a writer. I once turned in an 11-page short story in sophomore English class for a simple page-long vocabulary assignment. Looking back, one of the greatest insights of my life was long ago identifying writing as a possible way to escape my destiny. Writing is cheap. It costs NOTHING to put pencil to paper and go. What other creative pursuit can you engage in with the potential of making a career out of it without spending a dime? For the cost of a Number Two pencil and a notebook we can stop the globe spinning. We can blow up buildings. We can create and destroy entire lives, entire solar systems. We can make people cry and laugh and beg for more. It’s pretty astounding.

3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?

I grew up reading Stephen King and Douglas Adams and Michael Crichton. Almost exclusively. Not the greatest variety, unfortunately. But I caught up with reading all those books I was supposed to read in high school when I entered the Peace Corps. I read the 100 most influential English-language books of the 20th Century during those years. And it was important for my development as a writer to do so.

4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?

I have no favorite child, and the best books I’ve read are all unique enough to defy direct ranking against each other. But for what it’s worth, my best reads have all been somehow transcendental, somewhat epic in form, and illuminate something profound of the Human condition. 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera fit the bill. LOTR does, too. Brothers Karamozov. The Gunslinger and The Shining. Cloud Atlas, for its sheer versatility. And one of the few series I read over and over again: Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea books. Simply sublime. I don’t know what these books do to my own writing, except to humble me, and ignite my love for the written word.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?austin-aslan_islandsattheendoftheworld_sfwa

I now write for a living. I NOW WRITE FOR A LIVING! I avoided a mid-life crisis by THIS much. I no longer shy away from that “What do YOU do for a living?” question at parties.  I’m cuter. I’m younger. (Not.)

I like to hike and backpack and get outdoors. I thru-hiked the entire Arizona National Scenic Trail last winter. It’s 800-miles long, absolutely gorgeous, and it took me almost three months to complete. You can read more about those adventures here: http://www.gore-tex.com/blog/author/a_aslan/

6. Have you been to Hawaii before? How was living there? How did your experience in Hawaii help shape the story?

I lived in Hilo, on the Big Island, when I was getting my masters degree in Tropical Conservation Biology. My field sites were high up on the forested slopes of Mauna Loa Volcano. I was coming home from a rainy day of doing pollination experiments with rare Hawaiian flowers and I drove down through the clouds and suddenly had a great, clear view of the ocean surrounding the island. I was struck by how alone and isolated the Hawaiian Islands were (this is something that people in Hawaii think about frequently, and it wasn’t a new thought for me, either). At that time, I happened to be thinking about a haunting post-apocalyptic book by Cormac McCarthy called THE ROAD. The idea popped into my head that it would be really interesting to set a post-apocalyptic story on the isolated Hawaiian Islands, and the story and characters just started flowing out of me like lava! I thought to myself, Everybody know what happens at the end of the world in New York and LA, but what would a global disaster mean for Islanders? 95% of Hawaii’s food is imported every day. The islands are home to 1.5 million people. If things got tough there, where would all those people go? There are no mountain ranges or Great Plains to escape to. Everyone is stuck. Hungry. No way to escape. When I arrived home at the end of my drive, I started writing the book immediately, that night, and I had my first draft finished 83 days later—all while going to class and doing field work for my degree!

7. Can you speak Hawaiian? Do you know any words?

I only know a few words of Hawaiian. The book doesn’t have much pidgin, and that was an editorial decision, as much as it was a product of the reality that I have no command of the dialect! My editor also works with Graham Salisbury, and they both long ago came to the conclusion that sales to general audiences dwindle as a direct function of how much pidgin appears in the text. Mainland readers just don’t have the patience to wade through too many unfamiliar words and phrases.

The biggest challenge for me was feeling comfortable and legitimate in writing about a Hawaiian main character and crafting a story deeply-rooted in Hawaiian cultures and traditions, even though I’m haole (white) and don’t come from the islands. I’m not Hawaiian, and there’s two problems with that. The obvious problem is that I don’t “know” the culture. There’s a lot to learn and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ll never be an expert, though the book has to feel authentic not only to general readers, but to islanders, as well. The more complex problem is that, as an outsider, I struggle with claiming the right to tell a story set in Hawaii. I’m not only writing as a half Hawaiian when I’m not one. I’m also writing about thorny scenarios involving “sovereign nation” perspectives, and one of my bad guys is pure Hawaiian (though most of my Hawaiian characters are very noble, and I try to make all of my characters, regardless of race, as three-dimensional as possible). This issue has a lot of complexity around it, and I’m most comfortable approaching it with a great deal of humility. Ultimately, I think that any author has the right to tell any story they want to. The question is: can you get away with it? Will your effort be respected? Will the people whose voice you’re trying to assume authenticate your attempt or not? So far, the books have been respectfully received in different circles. I feel that I’ve approached this dynamic with awareness, humility, honesty, and good faith.

8. Did you really appear in the movies The Getaway with Alec Baldwin and The Postman with Kevin Costner? Did you get to meet them? Who’s the biggest celebrity you have met?

Yes. And I did get to meet both of them. I had a slice of Pizza Hut pizza on location with Alec while we waited for the crew to set up the scene for a car chase. Kevin actually directed me in a few scenes during Postman filming. Super fun experience. Those are two of the biggest celebrities I’ve ever been around, if you don’t count national politicians (I’ve worked on projects with more than I can count in another job). I’m looking to round out my rolodex, though; know of any you could hook me up with?

9. What would you do if technology fails? Could you live without it?

We have become so reliant on certain technologies, basic and advanced, that their sudden loss would be catastrophic to the normal functioning of society. How long do you think it would take for the more unstable forces in our communities to run Henny Penny into the street and self-fulfill a falling sky?

Though, to be clear, I don’t think the conditions of your question will ever actually be met. I think that a “sudden lack of energy” befalling our world is highly unlikely. Loss of technology and the power with which to run it is much more likely to be a slow, gradual process that we don’t even realize we’re adapting to, if it happens at all.

10. You’ve performed research on rare Hawaiian plants. How was your work, and have you discovered anything new?

I studied mutualism:  some creatures help each other out for so long that after a while they turn into special species that need each other to survive.  Plants and birds (and a lot of plants and bugs) can do this.  Pollination is one way that plants and birds help each other out.  Birds can get food from the flowers of plants.  In return, the plants can transfer pollen from one plant to the next by using the birds.

In Hawaii, an example of this is Hawaiian honeycreepers and a type of plant called lobeliads.  The honeycreepers have very long bills, which they use to reach the food deep inside the very long flowers of the lobeliad plants.  When the bird visits the flower, it gets pollen on its head, and then brings the pollen to the next flower to help the plant reproduce (make new plants). But what happens when one of the two species goes extinct? What happens to the other species? Will it also go extinct? In my study example, the flower is now being pollinated by a newly-introduced bird from Japan. The conventional wisdom is that introduced species are bad for ecosystems, but my research has helped to develop a narrative within the scientific community that this issue is more complicated than we want to realize.

11. Could you describe your reaction when you got “the call” that your books will become published?

“The Call” is a misnomer, at least in my experience. It’s an involved process, spanning many days. I went back and forth with several editors from different houses, and all the while things remained in flux, though at some ambiguous point it became pretty clear that someone was going to make a final offer. I was sick in bed with a cold the day things got finalized. I was pretty ecstatic, and took my wife out to dinner, but it all kind of felt forced at the time.

I dreamed and dreamed and dreamed of becoming a published author, and I half expected my life to suddenly transform into glitz and glamor and whatever once I finally realized my dream (don’t we all day dream about that?). But the truth is that I believe that circumstances don’t change who people are. Change in one’s life comes from within; it’s rarely external. The good fortune I’ve had so far hasn’t changed who I am or how I act or who I hang out with. The biggest difference for me is that I’m now able to make writing my job. But I don’t actually feel that I’m writing more often than I used to. I’m just getting paid to do it now. So, it has freed me up somewhat, but that just means I have more time to attend to the thousand other responsibilities of raising a family!

12. Who was your favorite character to write about and why?img_6459

Leilani, for sure.

Leilani was such a miraculous surprise for me. I had no idea I could write someone like her. My “model” for her—my own daughter—was only seven years old at the time I wrote the novel. I did my best to project forward into her teenage years as I wrote. It seems to have worked out fairly well! Leilani is so awesome because she’s every bit as strong as Katniss Everdeen but she’s so much more. She operates in the real world, and her challenges are the kind that any one of us could face on a bad day. Her courage and her wits are exceptional, and she’s constantly saving her father rather than the other way around. She’s mixed race (half white, half Hawaiian), which presents its own set of hardships in our confusing world, especially in the context of a scenario in which society is unraveling at the seams! Leilani also suffers from epilepsy. Lei isn’t intended to be cool or special because she has a disability, or because she’s able to navigate a terrifying world in spite of her setbacks. She’s not inspirational or pitiable because of her disability. It’s just a part of her that she struggles with and manages, at times, to accept. It’s who she is.

Now, there are fantastical elements to this story. Lei finds herself in a position to make a big difference in the world. But she’s no “Chosen One.” I hope that’s sufficiently conveyed in the text. The abilities that she finds she has are not unique to her. She just happens to be in the right place at the right time to seize the moment and the initiative. Her successes and her failures are completely hers to choose. I don’t believe that she operates under any mandate of destiny, as occurs in so many fantasy and science-fiction stories, so, yeah, ironically, this is another big thing that makes Leilani special and unique.

And one last thing, since we’re on the subject. I’m very hopeful that readers will find Lei a very refreshing departure from the star-crossed girl who is inexplicably caught up in romantic engagements even though everyone has bigger problems at the moment. This book doesn’t have any love triangles. Lei is a sixteen-year-old girl who occasionally crosses paths with interesting guys, but the “love” in this has nothing to do with romance. It’s about family. It’s about her father. Something I hope most readers can connect with in a very real and visceral way.

One of the very first decisions I had to make before I started typing this story was whether I wanted my main character to be a boy or a girl. The choice was easy for me. I have a daughter. I could easily imagine myself as a father feeling the burden of keeping her safe if we were in the situation of my book, having to hop islands to get home while society disintegrates. It was scary to think about. I also knew I wanted to write a YA novel, so the youth had to be the main character. Once I was convinced that my MC would be a girl, writing as her wasn’t that hard. I just channeled my daughter as best I could and assumed (for better and for worse, in some cases) that for all the ways we like to portray boys and girls as impossibly different, they’re actually pretty similar. I think it worked out just fine. I was fortunate to find a voice for Leilani quickly, and then I just stayed authentic to that voice throughout the book. When my agent and I were shopping the novel around, an editor at a major publishing house said that she was surprised to learn that I was a guy. I was very flattered by that, and took it as a good sign that I had effectively managed to pull off a girl MC!

13. Have you written any other works? What are also your current plans with your writing career?

As a matter of fact, yes! Several projects. Different genres. I recently finished a draft of a new disaster adventure set later in the 21st century. I’m very fond of that project. I’m also developing a series of chapter books with an environmental theme. I have two fantasy project in the works, as well. In this industry, the key is to keep writing, and I plan to continue doing just that for the foreseeable future.

14. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?

Keep writing. And by that, I mean new material. You may not find publication for your first project, no matter how polished and perfect you can eventually get it through revisions. (I’ve written seven books and only published two!) You need a wide array of projects to shop around. As they say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

I love that I’m living proof that perseverance will eventually pay off. If you want to be a published author badly enough, you can make it happen. Writing is one of those rare careers these days where new people still constantly break in and become successful. It is honestly true that agents and editors are looking at the quality of your material first and foremost. Who you are, where you came from, your education level, your rap sheet…none of these things matter in this business as much as your story, your characters, and your voice. Anybody can do this. It took me ten years and six novels to finally make it all the way through the door, but I always trusted in the system to judge me fairly and my learning and growth finally paid off. So, if you really, really, really want to publish a book, you will. The trick is, of course, that “really wanting it” recognizes that there are certain ways to play ball and you have to respect the process and you have to continuously hone your craft and strive to be a better writer. Getting published is like going to the Olympics…you honestly have to train HARD to make it. But it’s also better than going to the Olympics, because you don’t need to be born with an athletic body that predisposes you to competitive ability—you just need a sharp mind and a good story and LOTS of practice!

Thank you so much, Austin! It was fun interviewing you! Thank you for writing such brilliant books that made me interested in Young Adult fiction!

If you want to check out more of Austin’s works or social media accounts, click below to check them out!

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Hope you enjoyed this interview! Please continue to share and like our posts, as well as follow us to keep track of our latest interviews and giveaways! Don’t forget we have two giveaways- Marie Silk and Melanie Ifield– so go check those out! And

 

 

100th Post: Interview + GIVEAWAY with Marie Silk!

Hi guys! Man, January is almost over! It has been an amazing month for LILbooKlovers. This is actually the 100th post of LILbooKlovers! Woo hoo! *cue streams and balloons* I am so happy to celebrate our 100th post with Marie Silk, a #1 Amazon bestseller who has had her book Heiress Interrupted placed in the goodie bags at the Golden Globes- the movie and TV show Golden Globes- and the Producers Guild Awards! I loved her first book, and I hope you will enjoy this interview and enter the giveaway below!

We have also nearly tripled our views this month and have met a ton of amazing authors and bloggers! I have definitely enjoyed this month with all of you! To end off January, here is an exclusive interview and GIVEAWAY with Marie Silk. Marie Silk’s book Heiress Interrupted was actually put into the goodie bags at this year’s Golden Globe- the Golden Globes where Jimmy Fallon sang an opening number that parodied La La Land– and the Producers Guild Awards! Marie is also an #1 Amazon bestselling author and the #87 author in Historical Fiction on Amazon! If you want to win her amazing book series (I loved the first book Davenport House), then enter below!

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1. What is your Davenport House series about?photo-7

The Davenport House series follows the lives of a wealthy family and their servants in 1915 America.  The house is turned upside down with the sudden death of the patriarch.  This tragedy sets into motion a chain of events which affects everyone on the estate, including the workers.

2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

I love writing because I know how enjoyable it is for me to read a story that originated in the imaginations of other writers. I hope to bring that enjoyment to others.  It’s hard to remember a time that I wasn’t writing. When I was ten years old, I was sent with some other students to organize the storage room at school.  I remember being intrigued by the puppets and theatrical props that were in there. I went home and wrote a play that would use the props. The teachers at school liked the script and we later produced the play for the students.  This was probably the first time I realized that I could write a story.  It was fun!

Continue reading “100th Post: Interview + GIVEAWAY with Marie Silk!”

Damaged Goods Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer Bardsley

Hi guys! If you’re here on the Damaged Goods blog tour, welcome to my tour stop! What a great way to end the tour, huh? This series is actually one of my most anticipated reads of 2016! I can’t wait to start it! And today, I have the honor to interview the lovely Jennifer Bardsley, also known as the YA Gal! (*internally screaming insider because I’m so happy I got to interview her*). Let’s get on with the tour!

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Title: DAMAGED GOODS (Blank Slate #2)

Author: Jennifer Bardsley

Pub. Date: January 17, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 300

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Synopsis:

Blanca has everything she ever wanted, a hot boyfriend named Seth and the loving support of her foster father, Cal. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father, Barbelo Nemo, and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.

But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions. Blanca feels abandoned by Seth who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort instead.

While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals called the Guardians rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. Now Blanca’s life is in peril once more, and this time, Blanca struggles to recognize friend from foe.

 

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Title: GENESIS GIRL (Blank Slate #1)

Author: Jennifer Bardsley

Pub. Date: June 14, 2016

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 280

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon |  B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Books A Million | Google Play | IndieBound

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet. 

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. 

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online. 

 

About Jennifer: jennifer-bardsley

Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily HeraldShe also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important roll parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA.

GENESIS GIRL will release in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder, the sequel  will come out in 2017. Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary Agency LLC.

Follow the Jennifer on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

 

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Interview with Jennifer Bardsley:

Kester: In your own words, what is your Blank Slate series about?

Jennifer: The Blank Slate series is about a teenager named Blanca who grew up in a quasi-religious cult called the Vestals, where she was shielded from the Internet for eighteen years. Blanca grew up with no online profile or digital footprint. All the Vestals were blank slates, and since that is so rare, it made them valuable. In GENESIS GIRL Blanca’s digital purity gets auctioned off to the highest bidder. In DAMAGED GOODS, Blanca struggles to overcome the brainwashing of her past.

Kester: Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

Jennifer: I grew up keeping a diary. It’s really hard to commit to a diary, and I flaked out a whole bunch, but did manage to write a few times a month. Now I have diaries from when I was ten to fifteen that I treasure. If I was a teenager today though, I’d probably have an anonymous blog instead.

Continue reading “Damaged Goods Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer Bardsley”