Summer of Authors #14: Exclusive Interview with Sheba Karim, Author of That Thing We Call a Heart!

Hi guys! Today I’m leaving my summer engineering camp, and I’m so nostalgic right now! These past few days have been super fun (I hope, I’m writing this two weeks ahead.) To celebrate the end of camp (and the end of summer approaching so soon!), today I’m welcoming Sheba Karim, author of That Thing We Call a Heart (which I really loved), on our blog today! I met Sheba- who is a local author in Nashville- twice, the first at the SE-YA Book Fest and the second at Sandhya Menon’s signing and launch event for When Dimple Met Rishi! I was so glad to win an ARC of TTWCaH and I’m so glad to have the chance to interview Sheba! Enjoy!


About That Thing We Call a Heart25752164

Shabnam Qureshi is a funny, imaginative Pakistani-American teen attending a tony private school in suburban New Jersey. When her feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf without even consulting her, it begins to unravel their friendship. After hooking up with the most racist boy in school and telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is ready for high school to end. She faces a summer of boredom and regret, but she has a plan: Get through the summer. Get to college. Don’t look back. Begin anew.

Everything changes when she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack, and meets her there every afternoon. Shabnam begins to see Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, her awkwardness. Shabnam finds herself falling in love, but Farah finds Jamie worrying.

With Farah’s help, Shabnam uncovers the truth about Jamie, about herself, and what really happened during Partition. As she rebuilds her friendship with Farah and grows closer to her parents, Shabnam learns powerful lessons about the importance of love, in all of its forms.

Featuring complex, Muslim-American characters who defy conventional stereotypes and set against a backdrop of Radiohead’s music and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry, THAT THING WE CALL A HEART is a honest, moving story of a young woman’s explorations of first love, sexuality, desire, self-worth, her relationship with her parents, the value of friendship, and what it means to be true.

Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Sheba Karim

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

When I was young, my love for reading prompted me to try to create my own worlds and stories, and I began writing.  I loved writing, and still do, because it’s such a powerful and expressive use of the imagination.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

Growing up, I loved British lit, Austen, the Brontes, E.M. Forster.  I also loved a lot of seminal YA literature like The Chocolate Wars and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  In college and beyond, I started reading a lot of South Asian and diaspora fiction, Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rohinton Mistry. I read YA and lit fiction pretty broadly now, though I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like.  I’m always inspired by literature that skillfully incorporates humor.

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

I write full time.  When I’m not writing, I’m playing with my daughter, cooking, reading or catching up with a show on Netflix.

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #14: Exclusive Interview with Sheba Karim, Author of That Thing We Call a Heart!”

Summer of Authors #13: Author Interview with Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks, authors of Weave A Murderous Web. Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks

 


About Weave A Murderous Web29444730

No good deed goes unpunished. When Jane Larson—a hot-shot litigator for a large firm in New York City—helps out a friend, she is sucked into the unfamiliar world of divorce and child support.

Jane’s discovery of the deadbeat dad’s hidden assets soon unravels a web of lies, drugs, and murder that keeps getting more dangerous.

Soon, Jane is involved in a high stakes race to recover a missing suitcase of cash and catch the murderer before she becomes the next victim.


 Which writers inspire you?

We are inspired by writers who create plots that draw you in with characters and settings that come alive. Among many others, we both like Charles Dickens and Kurt Vonnegut. Another favorite of Anne’s is Charlotte Bronte. Ken admires William Faulkner.

When did you decide to become a writer?

Ken met Kurt Vonnegut once and asked him this question. His response was that he always wanted to be a writer. We adopt that answer for our own. We have both been fashioning stories in our minds for almost as long as we have been reading.

Why do you write?

We think that all artists create their art for essentially the same reason—they have a view of the world that they want to share with other people and, perhaps, at the same time teach them to see things from a different perspective, if only for a short time. This is why we write. We enjoy putting together a mystery, but each book is also trying to convey something about the world in which it occurs.

Where do your ideas come from?

The germ of an idea can come from anywhere—the newspaper, an overheard conversation, an incident on the street. The layers of plot and the interactions of characters come from bouncing ideas back and forth.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

We think that after many years we have learned from our mistakes and will remove material that is not actively moving the story forward no matter how much we enjoy the way it is written.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing is marketing the book so that people will read it. It is a tedious and joyless process.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Once you formulate a basic idea and have a good concept of your characters and the story arc, the act of putting the novel down on paper is a lot of fun.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

This is a difficult question to answer since we sometimes put a book aside and work on something else before coming back to the first project. We go through a substantial rewriting and revision process. It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Ken often reads on his iPhone. He loves the feel of paper and even collects old books, but it is very convenient to have a book in digital format that he can turn to anywhere without having to carry a large volume. Anne, on the other hand, only reads books on paper, usually from our local library.

Do you think that the cover plays an important in the success of a book?

There is really no question that readers are attracted to a book initially by a good cover. Publishers spend large sums of money to create eye-grabbing images. However, no one ever recommended a book based solely on a cover. Rather, readers talk to other readers because they like the writing.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing a book?

The best advice we can give is to stick with a topic that you know thoroughly. Don’t write about the South Pacific if you’ve never been there. Second, expect to work very hard and thoroughly rewrite every sentence of your novel many times until you get it right. Third, don’t use a big word if a small will serve the same purpose.

What is your favorite book and why? 

Anne loves Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, which has funny and interesting characters, a plot with unexpected twists, and a point of view that is unique. Ken would describe Bleak House by Charles Dickens in a similar way, although it is not as thoroughly amusing as Sirens of Titan.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Travel as much as you can afford. Work hard. Harder!

Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?

Ken would love to meet Socrates. Anne would enjoy spending time with Bob Dylan.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

In addition to what we wrote above, if you don’t feel compelled to write, don’t start. It is a process that you should undertake only because you have to, not because you simply want to do something with your free time.


About the Authors:

Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks have been collaborating on books for forty-six years. Their first joint effort was a student project while Anne was at Bryn Mawr College and Ken attended Haverford. Since then, they have written over twenty books together. They are members of International Thriller Writers. They live and work in New York City, where many of their books are set.

Their Jane Larson series of mystery/thrillers involves a high-powered New York City attorney with a penchant for getting involved in situations that she would be better off leaving alone. These novels have been praised by reviewers for their gritty portrayals of city life, lively characters, fast action, surprise endings and highly polished prose. Jane is cynical and rebellious, but she finds herself drawn to the simple life her deceased mother lived as an attorney who served women unable to afford legal services. The series includes Weave A Murderous Web, Praise Her, Praise Diana, and Mind Me, Milady.


Readers can connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

To learn more, go to http://randh71productions.com/blog/

Summer of Authors #12: Exclusive Interview with Leslie Hauser, author of Chasing Eveline!

Hi guys! I am currently at an engineering camp right now, so I am taking a blogging/social media hiatus for the meantime, but I’ll be back by next week. I got a few posts scheduled for you, but I won’t be editing any posts and I’ll be not too active on social media. If you need me, just shoot me an email or DM on Twitter, but know that it’ll take a bit for me to reply since I’ll be really busy. 😉 Today, I’m welcoming Leslie Hauser, the author of Chasing Eveline, which sounds super interesting (Music is a big part of my life, so that’s why!). Cayli loved Hauser’s debut (review can be found here) and I have the amazing opportunity to interview her! Hope you enjoy!


About Chasing Eveline26631470

Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel Heights High School who listens to cassettes. And her binder is the only one decorated with album artwork by 80s band Chasing Eveline. Despite being broken-up since 1989, this rock band out of Ireland means everything to Ivy. They’re a reminder of her mom, who abandoned Ivy and her dad two years ago. Now the music of her mom’s favorite band is the only connection she has left.

Even though Ivy wavers between anger and a yearning to reconnect, she’s one-hundred percent certain she’s not ready to lose her mom forever. But the only surefire way to locate her would be at a Chasing Eveline concert. So with help from her lone friend Matt—an equally abandoned soul and indie music enthusiast—Ivy hatches a plan to reunite the band.

The road to Ireland won’t be easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Along the way they’ll have to win over their Lady Gaga-loving peers, tangle with some frisky meerkats, and oh yeah, somehow find and persuade the four members to play a reunion gig. It’s a near-impossible task, but Ivy has to try. If she can’t let go of the past, she’ll never be able to find joy in the present.


 Leslie Hauser.PNG

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

I can’t pinpoint an exact event or moment that ignited my passion for writing, but I think it stems from my imagination. When I was younger, I had two imaginary friends: People and Kikibrumbrum. I cannot explain the names 🙂 , sorry! But I seem to have always had wild stories and imaginary people swirling about in my mind, and that has led me to want to be a writer.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I mainly read contemporary YA. So much so that I was hesitant to read Harry Potter. I didn’t think I’d like it. (I ended up loving it!) Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever is the book that hooked me on YA contemporary. I was reading mostly adult fiction at that time, and a friend recommended that book. I fell in love with YA and that story, and I was hooked.IMG_4397

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

Writing is part-time, though I’d love to make it my full-time job. When I’m not writing, I’m spending time with family and friends, reading, running, and doing CrossFit. But my main occupation is entertaining Mr. Darcy. He is one spoiled dog (but quite a gentleman)!

4. Your debut novel Chasing Eveline follows Ivy as she tries to reunite her favorite band Chasing Eveline, an 80s rock band based out of Ireland, in an attempt to find her mother, who abandoned her two years ago. Was Chasing Eveline inspired by any real life bands or artists? Do you and Ivy share the same taste of music? (I’m more an oldies person myself!)

Great question! The band Chasing Eveline is not based on any one particular band, but it is influenced by several of my favorite bands from the 80s: The Cure, Depeche Mode, and The Smiths.  I channeled into my Chasing Eveline songs all the feelings those bands evoked in me. Ivy and I definitely have the same taste in music. I’m not a big fan of today’s pop music either. I prefer the indie bands that don’t get much play on the radio, and I love listening to songs from the 70s and 80s.

5. Did you base any of Ivy’s characteristics and experiences off of you or anyone you know?

Ivy was a pretty easy character to write because I gave her a lot of my own sarcasm and my way of believing that there’s always hope (even when it’s pretty clear to everyone there is no hope! haha). There’s a scene with her dad that was pretty tough to write because it was based on something real that I experienced with my dad. But everything else is pure imagination. Even the meerkat scene! You must read the book if only for that 🙂

6. Since Chasing Eveline is based out of Ireland, have you ever been there? If so, what were some of your fondest memories from your trip? If not, what are some places and things you want to see and do?

Yes, I’ve been to Ireland. I looooved it! My favorite part was how friendly everyone was. But I also loved how beautiful it is there. One of my best days there was the day I ate fish and chips out of a newspaper by the side of the road! I also drove while I was there (on the wrong side!) and that was quite an adventure. I’m anxious to return!26631470

7. Music and 80s pop culture is prominent all throughout Chasing Eveline! What is it about the 80s that you love so much? If you had to go into a bunker and you could only bring one album and one movie from the 80s (provided you have a stereo and a TV without connection), what would you choose?

I love all the crazy styles of the 80s. Fluorescent and jellies! So awful and yet so great at the same time 🙂 I would take Louder Than Bombs by The Smiths and Pretty in Pink with me into a bunker. I’d never get tired of either!

8. In addition to being a YA novelist, you are a middle school teacher. How is it like teaching middle grade students? Do you have any funny experiences that happened to you in class that you would like to share? (I know that 6th– 8th graders can be a handful. Believe me, I was one a few years ago!)

Middle school is a blast. It really is. Currently I teach sixth grade English and history, but I’ve taught all the middle grades. I love sixth grade because they are still enthusiastic about learning and reading. Every day there are funny experiences! The kids I teach are pretty nice, so there’s lots of laughing all day long. Mostly it’s them laughing at me trying to be funny, but that’s what I love about it! 🙂

9. In your bio, you say that you dream is to return to the Midwest either owning a farm or a cookie delivery service. How do you envision your future farm or service to look like?

LHauser author picture_smaller size (1)I want to live on a horse farm. I know nothing about horses, so I’d have to be rich enough to hire someone to take care of that! But I love the wide open spaces and the green rolling hills of Kentucky. And I think the world needs a cookie delivery service for people like me who can’t buy a whole pack of cookies and not eat them all at once! But after dinner, don’t you sometimes just want a little treat? I need one cookie at a time—thus that cookie delivery service 🙂

10. How do you tackle writer’s block whenever it hits you?

I watch TV or Google Princess Kate or find cat gifs to send to my friends! I am great at avoidance. But usually if I take a break, my brain stops the sit-in protest and the ideas will form.

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have any secrets you would like to share?

I’m super excited about this YA contemp that I’m currently writing. If I stay on track, it will be finished by mid-August. I’m keeping it a secret for now, but I hope it makes its way into the world. 🙂 I also just wrote a YA short story that I sort of fell in love with as I wrote it—about having a crush and the idea of documenting every event on social media vs just experiencing the moment. It’s part of a charity anthology from Pen Name Publishing.  All proceeds go toward Wine to Water, an organization that aims to get clean water to people around the globe. http://amzn.to/2tpkt56

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

I sort of laugh when published authors say, “Don’t worry so much about getting published. Just write and everything will fall into place.” You know, that’s easy to say once you have a publishing deal. But if your dream is to see your book in print, you will worry and you will stress and you will be sad at times. My advice is just to accept that as part of the process. Go with it. If you’re sad, be sad. If you’re angry that it seems so easy for some people, be angry. I would also tell writers to consider indie publishers. I’m very happy with my decision to go with Pen Name Publishing. The whole experience has been great and I get to see my book out in the world. This may not have happened if I’d only considered the traditional publishing route.

Thanks so much, Leslie, for coming onto the blog! It was a blast having you!


About the AuthorLHauser author picture_smaller size (1)

I am a YA writer and middle school teacher. I have a B.A. in English from UCLA and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently reside in Los Angeles, California, with my dog Mr. Darcy.

When I’m not living in fictional worlds inside my head, I run all sorts of distances, torture my body at CrossFit, and DVR entirely too many television shows. I dream of one day returning to the Midwest to live on a farm. Or perhaps owning a cookie delivery service.

My debut novel CHASING EVELINE releases in 2017 from Pen Name Publishing.


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you have any thoughts or questions?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Contact | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

 

Summer of Authors #11: Excerpt from The United Continuums: My Author Q&A with Jennifer Brody!

Hi guys! I have some exciting news! I did an interview that is going to be printed in a book! Yes, an actual book! A few months ago, Jennifer Brody (who is super amazing) asked me to do the questions for the Q&A that will be featured in the back of The United Continnuums, which is the last installment in her award-winning The Continuum Trilogy, which is also my favorite series (and TUC is the best book and one of my top 3 favorites!). The United Continuums releases tomorrow July 11th, 2017, and I urge you to get it or enter the giveaway for a signed copy below! I definitely recommend reading all three books because they are so awesome! If you need reasons why to read them, check out my three reviews below! Now, to celebrate the release of TUC, Jennifer, her publisher, and I have agreed to release this exclusive interview excerpt, along with a giveaway of her book!

And thank you so much, Jennifer, for letting me do these questions and featuring me in your book. It is certainly a dream come true and an amazing honor to do the interview for The United Continuums, which is one of my favorite books of all time. I’m so happy for you that the series is finally complete!

The 13th Continuum Review

Return of the Continuums Review

The United Continuums Review

Warning: There are some spoilers in a few of these questions below, so I will give a *SPOILER ALERT* before these questions!


About The United Continuumsthe-united-continuums-cover

In the epic conclusion to the award-winning Continuum Trilogy, Aero leads a group insurgents from the Second Continuum to overthrow his rival Supreme General Vinick and unite his space colony s military forces, while Seeker takes on a secret mission back to her home colony to reinforce Earth’s defenses and defend the First Continuum against an even greater threat. Meanwhile, Myra s nightmares have become a reality as the Dark Thing hurtles toward Earth with designs on eradicating the planet s fledgling populace. The only thing standing in the way are the three Carriers and those who would join them to fight against a second coming of the Doom.

Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Jennifer Brody

Author
This is going to be printed in The United Continuums! My name is in a book!!! Doing an interview for a book is a dream come true! Thanks so much, Jennifer!!!
What inspired you to write The Continuum Trilogy? the-united-continuums-cover

Originally, I came up with the idea during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I was sitting at home and watching the TV news coverage of the oil spreading over the top of the ocean and suffocating birds and fish. As I stared at the dark sludge, feeling horrified, I started to wonder what would happen if we couldn’t live on the surface anymore. I couldn’t shake the idea. I kept asking myself more and more what if questions. In this way, the idea for the Continuum Universe started to form in my mind. At first, I thought of having underwater colonies, but quickly realized that we would build Continuums in multiple environments to maximize our chances for long-term survival—underwater, underground, and in outer space. In this way, the idea kept growing bigger and bigger, until I knew the story needed to expand into three books.

Your books take place throughout many of the Continuums, and each one had a different history and culture to it. How did you build each Continuum so uniquely? 25739965

Exactly, the original concept involved putting different societies into extreme isolation and exploring how they evolved differently. I had the idea for the underwater Thirteenth Continuum first (due to inspiration from the BP oil spill). I’ve always been fascinated by the deep-sea environment and how we know more about the surface of Mars than our own ocean trenches. Often when I’m worldbuilding, I rely on historical allegory to guide me. In this case, I based the history of that colony on the Dark Ages. I was interested in exploring how we went from a pinnacle of civilization with the Roman Empire and fell into a dark age, losing knowledge and technology. I also wanted to show how a democratic society modeled on the United States of America could devolve into a totalitarian state ruled by an oligarchy named the Synod. That’s why I included the constitutional amendments in the beginning of the first book.

For the Second Continuum—the lone surviving space colony, or so we think—I wanted to make them a military colony ruled by discipline and order, very different from the religious, superstitious Thirteenth Continuum. So, I turned to ancient Sparta for guidance on how to build that colony’s world. I realized along the way that while they had advanced technology and remembered their history, they still suffered in a different way. Their overreliance on logic and systemic organization led them to suppress their emotions and revile romantic love.

With each colony, each new environment, came a chance for me to build a different society. The underground Seventh Continuum devolved significantly, living in complete darkness with no technology. In their desperation to survive, they even turned to cannibalism. Influences included Lord of the Flies and also Gollum from the Lord of the Rings (who is also a devolved hobbit). This aspect of the trilogy that involves the different colonies really makes it stand out.

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #11: Excerpt from The United Continuums: My Author Q&A with Jennifer Brody!”

Summer of Authors #10: Exclusive Interview with Pintip Dunn!

Hi guys! Last month, I had the wonderful opportunity to read and review Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn (in which you can find the review here!) and I loved it. Definitely one of the best thrillers I’ve read! I know have the amazing honor to welcome Pintip today on our blog, so I hope you’ll enjoy this special interview!


About Girl on the Verge31428017

From the author of The Darkest Lie comes a compelling, provocative story for fans of I Was Here and Vanishing Girls, about a high school senior straddling two worlds, unsure how she fits in either—and the journey of self-discovery that leads her to surprising truths.

In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…

Goodreads

Learn more at http://www.pintipdunn.com/gotv/

Or buy it below!

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo   iTunes   Book Depository   Books-A-Million


Pintip Dunn

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

I love writing because I feel like my truest self when I write. I’ve wanted to be an author ever since I was six years old, but I didn’t write my first book until the first year after college (which was many years ago!) 

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I love all books and will read anything, but I have a particular affinity for young adult and romance. I’m a big fan of Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, Gillian Flynn, Orson Scott Card, Kristan Higgins, and of course, JK Rowling. I could go on, but those authors have written my favorite books. Reading Suzanne Collins’ books taught me the most about the craft of writing, and Stephenie Meyer’s The Host showed me the kind of books I want to write. 

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

I have three kids, which is the equivalent of a full-time job! I used to be a lawyer, but I no longer practice.  31428017

4. Your newest book Girl on the Verge just released on June 27th, and it revolves around Kan, a Thai-American girl living in a small town in Kansas, but she feels like she’s stuck between the worlds of her Thai ancestry and her surrounding American culture. Are there any parallels between you and Kan? Were any of her experiences and feelings based off of any you’ve had before?

Absolutely. I was a Thai-American girl who grew up in a small town in Kansas, so a lot of Kan’s feelings of not belonging were derived from my own experiences. At the same time, however, I want to emphasize that the feeling is where the similarity ends. Kan’s story is wholly fictional and was born entirely in my imagination! 

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #10: Exclusive Interview with Pintip Dunn!”

Summer of Authors #9: Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with Amber R. Duell

Hi guys! Currently I’m out of town on a trip to Niagara Falls, so I’ll be on the other side of the border! I’m super excited about this trip to Canada- it’s my first time! And Summer’s almost halfway done? Can you believe it? I mean, sure I’m writing this post in early June (D-Day, to be exact), but by the time this is posted, Summer would have felt too short. In the meantime, we’re going to continue our special Summer of Authors event with Amber R. Duell!


About Fragile ChaosFragile Chaos

A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.

AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.

BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.

“[E]very fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?


Amber

Infusing Myth with Reality

Hey! First, a huge thank you for LILbooKlovers for hosting me! I’m excited to be here and to talk about combining myth with reality.

In Fragile Chaos, I got the chance to work with both sides of myths—the truth and the exaggeration—which was incredibly fun!

Before I decided to create my own pantheon of gods, I read other mythologies and thought they were so crazy there was no way they could be real. I knew Cassia would be thinking the same thing. No one in her world believes in the gods and goddesses anymore, but the fantastic tales were still widespread and taught in school.

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #9: Guest Post + GIVEAWAY with Amber R. Duell”

Summer of Authors #8: Author Interview with Jon Del Arroz

Hello loves. I am back with another author interview! Please give a warm welcome to Jon Del Arroz, author of For Steam And Country.


About For Steam And Country 35378932

Her father’s been pronounced dead. Destructive earthquakes ravage the countryside. An invading army looms over the horizon. And Zaira’s day is just getting started…

Abandoned at an early age, Zaira von Monocle found life as the daughter of a great adventurer to be filled with hard work and difficulty. She quickly learned to rely on only herself. But when a messenger brought news that her father was dead and that she was the heir to his airship, her world turned upside down.

Zaira soon finds herself trapped in the midst of a war between her home country of Rislandia and the cruel Wyranth Empire, whose soldiers are acting peculiarly—almost inhuman. With the enemy army advancing, her newfound ship’s crew may be the only ones who can save the kingdom.


Jon Del Arroz

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t wait to be acknowledged by agents or editors. Readers are what matters. You get those by having product out there. Just produce, get the train started, put it up on amazon yourself.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

First thing that comes to mind is Excalibur by Tim Marquitz. It’s a really fun shoot em up in space that’s light, a quick read and action packed. It’s probably my favorite book I’ve read that’s out in 2017 so far and it deserves more cred!

 

As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal?

A ferret (thematic to For Steam And Country!)

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It really depends on the story. This book was a straight up fantasy, so it was mostly brainstorming and making things up. I have a sci-fi I wrote (which is in process for revising) where I had a character whose a master botanist. Did a lot of research on plants, botany, gardening and the like for that and spent hours on YouTube trying to get little details.

How many hours a day do you write?

Two to four.

 

How do you select the names of your characters?

For this book in particular I wanted to do something special. Most fantasy has pretty generic sounding fantasy names, and I think it’s made them imminently forgetful. I developed a naming convention through nobility in my book’s setting of Rislandia where people get named after cool items and gadgets that are steam punk themed. So you’ll have characters like Zaira Von Monocle, Mathias Du Gearsmith, Talyen Von Cravat. My hope is that those names will stick in people’s heads a little longer than if it just had more of a standard fantasy flavor. So far reaction’s been favorable!

 

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I do commercial real estate.

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Tons. Last book, Star Realms: Rescue Run was littered with references to Anne McCaffrey, my favorite all time author. For Steam And Country has a lot of Final Fantasy easter eggs.

 

What was your hardest scene to write?

Wasn’t in this book, which I found pretty easy to write all around, but it was in the one I referenced above with the botanist. There was a death of a character I just didn’t want to get into that head space. I procrastinated the scene for about a month and a half.

 

What is your favorite childhood book?

When I was a kid my favorite book was 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

2 months for first pass, about a month to edit, couple weeks on a third pass. I take breaks in between to work on other projects so I can come at it fresh so the whole process is about 6-9 months.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

It’s all about confidence. Write confidently that your ideas are interesting, that they’re worthwhile and it will translate to readers. This is true for main characters too — I used to write main characters to feel “more real” with a lot of lack of confidence in themselves. While it felt accurate, it didn’t make for good fiction. People escape through fantasy/sci-fi and want to see ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and that requires confidence.

Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers?

Put yourself out there. Self-promote and don’t be ashamed of it. So many people are scared but you gotta get your friends and family reading. They’ll tell their friends and family. It cascades. It’s super important and you gotta be marketing yourself constantly. The game never ends.


About the AuthorJon.jpg

Jon Del Arroz began his writing career in high school, providing book reviews and the occasional article for the local news magazine, The Valley Citizen. From there, he went on to write a weekly web comic, Flying Sparks, which has been hailed by Comic Book Resources as “the kind of stuff that made me fall in love with early Marvel comics.” He
has several published short stories, most recently providing flash fiction for AEG’s weird west card game, Doomtown: Reloaded, and a micro-setting for the Tiny Frontiers RPG. Writing and reading Space Opera is his life!

Star Realms: Rescue Run is his debut novel. You can find him during baseball season with his family at about half of the Oakland A’s home games in section 124.

Summer of Authors #6: Exclusive Interview with Pamela Schloesser Canepa

Hi guys! I hope your Summer is still going off strong! I’m going to give my predicted life updates right now! What’s funny is that I predict what’s going to happen, and then they don’t exactly go according to plan and I forget to change them. Haha, so my updates are… Well, I can’t think of anything! I’m just relaxing and having fun! Here’s another Summer of Authors interview for you: indie author Pamela Schloesser Canepa, author of Detours in Time.


About Detours in TimeDetours in Time

Feisty Tabatha, a struggling artist, and Milt, an awkward Science professor, set off on a journey to the future. What was supposed to be fun soon turns quite intense when they make discoveries about their future selves and end up on other “detours.” The two set events into action that may save one life, yet destroy another. Can these friends of completely different mindsets agree on a course of action? Can Tabatha stick to Milt’s rules of time travel? Both Milt and Tabatha struggle to witness and not participate in a place and time that is not yet their own.

Amid the backdrop of a future that reveals great wonders and horrors, Tabatha and Milt must resist the temptation to use discoveries from future technology to aid them when they return to the present. Detours in Time starts as a fantastic escape and grows to present many moral dilemmas and surprises that can either destroy the strongest friendship or bring two people closer.

Amazon | Goodreads


Pamela Schloesser Canepa

1. Why do you love writing?

I love it because it takes me out of reality and into a place I’d rather be, and if it takes me someplace horrible, I imagine myself a warrior who will conquer, no matter what.

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

My love for writing began as a child.  I wrote stories when we traveled in the car.  My brother was too young to talk to, so I entertained myself.  My parents and other family really encouraged my writing imagination as well.  I believe it also came out my love for reading, something that was highly encouraged by my mother.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors?

Books: The Help, The Martian, Auraria by Tim Westover, The Trial by James Patterson, The Stand and 11-22-63 (Stephen King), and The Monuments Men. Genre: Sci-fi and dystopian, but I like some historical fiction and non-fiction.  Authors:  Laurie Notaro (humor) Stephen King (Horror and sci-fi), Phillip K. Dick (sci-fi).

Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

I’m sure Stephen King inspired my imagination, but James Patterson likely impacted my writing style the most.  He is a master of dialogue and short chapters.  I also admire the way he can write from a male or female perspective.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I spend time with family, including my beloved dog.  He was a shelter dog.  I call him part tramp and part prince.  I also like the beach and try to do yoga.  Movies are another favorite.  I am involved with some volunteering through my church as well.

Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

It is a part-time job.  Perhaps someday it can support me and lead me into retirement!

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #6: Exclusive Interview with Pamela Schloesser Canepa”

Summer of Authors #5: Exclusive Interview with Tobie Easton!

Hi guys! We are continuing our special Summer of Authors event with an author whose book is the perfect summer read. Tobie Easton, whom I met at the SE-YA Book Fest and is really amazing, wrote Emerge, her first book that’s about mermaids and romance. If you want read it by the poolside pretending to be a mermaid, then this is the book for you!


About Emerge27882492

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk. So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right?

That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.


Tobie Easton

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

I love the puzzles of writing. The challenge of writing—the part that really intrigues me—is how to make all the pieces fit. How to make all the words fit just right, how to make all the story pieces fit so the plot twists feel right, how to make sure all the characters’ decisions push that plot forward. Making those pieces fit is what brings me those wonderful moments of satisfaction when I’m writing.

Growing up, I always loved stories and getting swept up in fictional worlds, but I was a reader long before I ever thought about being a writer. Writing was always the subject I enjoyed most in school; I found it fun and gratifying to play with words and find just the right phrasing for a given thought. But even though I enjoyed it, writing felt like something I had to do for whichever teacher gave me the assignment. It wasn’t until a few years after I graduated college and stopped having anyone making me write that I realized I wanted to write. It was perfect timing because it gave me just enough distance to gain perspective on my teen years, and I feel like I now have something to say in YA.

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and you writing style the most?

MysteriousGalaxyBirthdayBash2016_6As a writer, details are really important to me. My favorite fictional worlds are the ones in which every detail is thought through, and some that seem insignificant end up mattering in unexpected ways. That’s why I’ve been drawn to the vivid worlds of fantasy writers like J.K. Rowling and Tamora Pierce. I also learned a great deal about incorporating detail, building magic systems, and writing dialogue from watching and re-watching the works of Joss Whedon throughout high school and college. Romance is another element that’s at the top of my list. Getting my characters together is often what keeps me writing. And of course, I’ve always been intrigued by mythology and fairy tales—and by attempting to understand in what ways they’re still relevant in modern culture.

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

Actually, I am SO excited to tell you that writing is about to become a full-time job for me! I still can’t believe it, and I can’t wait to have more time to write more books for you guys!

When I’m not writing, I’m reading, and when I’m not reading, I’m trying out a new restaurant or travelling. My favorite thing is exploring new worlds—whether on the page or off.

4. EMERGE is heavily inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s THE LITTLE MERMAID. What about the original fairy tale spoke to you the most? Why did you choose to base your book on it?

At first, all I knew was that I wanted to write about mermaids living on land. Once I had decided to tell that story, I couldn’t help thinking about the original version of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, particularly the part that’s generally left out of more modern versions—that the Little Mermaid chose to die at the end instead of killing the prince and saving herself (yep, it’s a dark story!). My imagination started spinning and I began to think about what the consequences of that action might have been for modern mermaids.

5. Would you like to be a mermaid, why or not? If so, what would you do if you were one?27882492

Absolutely! I hope anyone who’s read my book would like to try being a mermaid—at least for a day.

If I had a day to spend as I mermaid, I would go exploring! Okay, well, first I think I’d just spend a lot of time staring at my tail and doing backflips in the water. Then I would want to see everything. I’d start with the hidden mermaid grottos where Lia’s community lives in Emerge because I’d want to see their abalone walls and cave formations for myself. After that, I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation anymore, and I’d dive right into the ocean. How incredible would it be to be able to breathe underwater and see everything in the ocean with crystal clear vision? Then, as the day was coming to an end, I’d break the surface right in time toshare a kiss with someone special in the waves at sunset.

6. You host book clubs for teens and tweens! What is that like? Why do you like the middle grade and young adult audiences as both a reader and writer?

Teaching book clubs is actually how I discovered—and fell in love with—YA. The bookclub members started bringing in books they were reading outside of the club to show me. One of them brought in Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and I read a few pages out of curiosity. I bought the book that night because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Once I started reading YA, I realized what a perfect fit it was for the voice in my own writing.

Books we read when we’re growing up are often the most meaningful to us. They’re the ones that stay with us and that we read over and over. When you write for MG and YA audiences, your words can really touch someone who is figuring out who they are and what they care about. Also, I love the exploration and discovery in YA, and, of course, the resonance of first love.

7. Since your book takes place over 200 years after the events of the Little Mermaid, how did you create the history and culture behind the Mermaid community in your book? What were some challenges you faced putting a new twist on an old tale?

For me, world-building starts with asking a series of questions and using logic to flesh out the world. The question that sparked this book for me was “What if Mermaids lived on land?” That led to, “Where would they live?” Well, in Malibu beach houses with secret, underground grottos where they could use their tails. “How would they keep their secret?”, “How would they get legs?”, “What would the rules of their Community be?”, “What would human school be like for them?”, “What language would they speak and what expressions wouldthey use?”, “What would their culture be like, from its history, to its food, to its thoughts on marriage and love?” Moving through those kinds of questions one by one helped me figure out what a Mer society in the human world would be like.

Mermaids, in one form or another, appear in so many cultures, so I also read mermaid myths and legends from all over the world and incorporated various elements that sparked my imagination. One of the most fun challenges was making those various pieces fit together into one cohesive Mermaid world.Tobie Pic

8. What do you like the most about living in Los Angeles and having a great author community there? Although I’ve already visited LA a few years ago (it was really fun by the way), what would you recommend a visitor to do or to go in LA?

LA attracts a lot of really creative people. People you meet here are very passionate about their projects, whether those projects are books, songs, movies, television shows, web series, paintings, or anything else. As for where to visit, I’m sure you already know about Disneyland and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so I’ll mention a few you may not have heard of; Huntington Gardens (especially the jaw-dropping rose garden), the Los Angeles Arboretum, and Greystone Mansion (the grounds of the estate are now a public park where I went to day camp as a kid. If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, you’ll recognize Greystone as Chilton).

9. Did you ever surprise yourself as you wrote EMERGE?

This is a great question. No one has ever asked me this before. Nearly all of Emerge was a surprise because it’s the first book I wrote. When I had the initial idea (What if mermaids livedon land?), I thought, “I can’t write a book!” But the idea wouldn’t let go, and I felt like I had to write it. Reaching THE END and realizing I could really write a book—and that I immediately wanted to write another one!—was the biggest surprise of all.

10. I am so glad I got to see you at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival in Murfreesboro,TN! What do you like most about being an author at book festivals? How was your experience at SE-YA?160604_BN Santa Monica 4

I loved, loved, LOVED SE-YA! It was a blast. Going to book festivals is one of my favorite parts of being an author because I get to meet and talk to readers. Connecting with you guys is really the best part of being an author because you get to share the love you have of stories with others. Kester, seeing that you had put the signed book plate I’d sent you months before in your copy of Emerge, and then getting to talk to you in person meant so much to me. At SEYA, I also got to hang out and do panels with authors I admire so much. Plus, the festival organizers were some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. Not only did they plan an incredible book festival (librarians should run the world!), they took me out for my first real soul food and sweet tea. Also—IT SNOWED! Since I’m from Los Angeles, that was really exciting. All the other authors were teasing me and calling me, “California.” 😉

11. SUBMERGE, the second book in THE MER CHRONICLES, is coming out later this year! What can we look forward to in the next installment? Would you like to give us any secrets about what happens next? 

It’s getting close now! I CAN’T WAIT for you guys to read it. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say Book 2 is finished now—and so much happens! It definitely has more romance and magic (my two favorite things), and there are more difficult choices ahead for Lia. We’ll learn more about the characters from Book 1 and we’ll see new, unexpected sides to them. There are also some new characters I just can’t wait for you to meet. Submerge really raises the stakes and the emotional tension of the series. If I had to sum up Submerge, I’d do it in two words: magical and heart-wrenching.

12. Do you have any tips or advice you would like to give to any aspiring authors or writers?

Write the book only you can write. By that I mean, follow what fascinates you—whetherthat’s mermaids or sports or vampires or music or scientific exploration or politics or horses. Letyourself fall down that rabbit hole no matter what anyone tells you because that’s where your story is waiting to be discovered.

Thanks so much, Tobie, for coming onto the blog! It was so fun having you!


Emerge Project Mermaids Promo Video

Tobie: “Here’s a link to a video I did for Project Mermaids to help raise awareness for ocean conservation.”


About the AuthorTobie Pic

Tobie Easton was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she’s grown from a little girl who dreamed about magic to a twenty-something who writes about it. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California, Tobie hosts book clubs for tweens and teens (so she’s lucky enough to spend her days gabbing about books).

She and her very kissable husband enjoy traveling the globe and fostering packs of rescue puppies. Tobie loves chocolate chip cookies and Oxford commas. Tobie is a member of SCBWI and YARWA, the Young Adult chapter of RWA.


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you have any thoughts or questions?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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My Second Author Collaboration Video!

Hi guys! Yesterday, I got done with my ACTs, so finally, I’m done with school-related stuff for the meantime! Woo hoo! As a special treat, I created another author collaboration video for featuring 16 amazing authors! Hope you enjoy it and check out the books to these fabulous authors! You don’t want to miss their books!

Continue reading “My Second Author Collaboration Video!”