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!

Contact | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Summer of Authors #4: Interview with Lorna Hollifield

Hi lovelies. I have with me a wonderful author whose debut book just released today! Please welcome Lorna Hollifield, author of Tobacco Sun.


About Tobacco Sun34569128

The year is 1947. The war is over, Jackie Robinson has just integrated baseball, and Frank Sinatra breezes in over the fuzzy airwaves. A sense of relief is finally sweeping the nation…everywhere except Tobaccoville, North Carolina.

Beyond the rural fields that are pregnant with decades of secrets, a mysterious Hollywood pin-up is jailed for murder while her facially birthmarked half-sister may hold the answers as to why.

The two girls, estranged for years, share a haunting past, a shell-shocked love interest, and maybe even a cruel destiny. Through mountains of lies, the truth that inevitably comes pouring out of the tobacco leaves will come to light. Will this light reveal the path to the siblings’ foreordained destruction, or their long-awaited deliverance? Will they realize they each hold the power to set the other free before it’s too late?

A story of heritage, hurt, and somehow, hope; Tobacco Sun keeps you on the edge of your seat while you find yourself rooting for redemption.


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

I don’t know what made me love writing, because I have ALWAYS loved it. If I had to guess, I would say it has a lot to do with my grandmother teaching me to read at a very young age. Since I could read, I’ve been writing. I was an only child for a long time, so I’d make up people to talk to. I still lead with character personalities today.

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

I love a pre-teen book called Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech….it was one of the first “chapter books” I connected with, and made me want to share stories about human beings. I’m a big Fitzgerald fan just because of how fabulous it all is. I also love Toni Morrrison, Sue Monk Kidd, and Barbara Kingsolver…all representing The South well. The best book I’ve read lately is Bryn Greenwood’s, All The Ugly And Wonderful Things….fantastic coming-of-age piece!

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

I just write for a living! For fun, I spend beach days with my husband, and pups! I also enjoy running (which I’m still surprised by), and being social. I’m not the stereo-typical shut-in at all!

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Everywhere! Songs…a moving experience…one word that creates a flash. It’s a very artistic thing for me.

What do you think makes a good story?

Human beings make stories great. We are creatures meant to connect, and the intricate ways that we do that should be talked about!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I actually think it’s easy once I become the character…when that happens they don’t shut up. Knowing them to begin with is the tough part. And yes, there is a research element to it…but once I’m acquainted enough to start writing it tends to flow. I always go back and make sure I haven’t slipped back into “Lorna” at any point. I think with any character this is true. It will flow if it’s authentic.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I like stand alones. I’ve never been a fan of series. I kind of like a book to make a big powerful boom, then mike drop, and walk away. I like that when I’m reading as well.

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

Write more…write always. Don’t waste brain space on safety nets or back-up plans. Go for it hard from day one and make it the ONLY option. The safest thing for the soul and the wallet is to work like hell at your passion. The best excuses are the ones that make total sense…but go with your gut.

What is your writing process like?

It looks like me in pajamas on my couch without a shower. I write when I feel the spark, and the story starts where I hear a character start talking. I usually map it out a little bit in chicken scratch in my notebook after a couple chapters have been written. I’m not super super organized…and I always feel rushed when I love the story.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It energizes me! I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t give me power, or make me feel like I’m influencing the world around me.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

A writer…from the beginning. I’m getting a little bit choked up thinking that I actually did it. It’s still surreal.

Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers? What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Naysayers telling you not to quit your day job. I don’t believe in safety nets. If you don’t love it enough to give it everything, you don’t love it enough. Logic will try to convince you otherwise, but if it is your true passion, let it have you. But don’t just dream…work. Write, research, network, go to conferences, beg agents, other writers, and industry big whigs to look at you. Demand your place. I was rejected for a decade…but I didn’t turn back. As long as you’re in love with your craft, never ever turn back.


About the Author

Lorna Hollifield was born in Asheville, North Carolina, but now enjoys the island life outside of Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Kimsey, and two mutts, Scarlet and Daisy.

She’s been an author from the time she could speak, always spinning yarns for anyone who would listen.  She began her professional writing journey as a tourism and travel blogger, before finally deciding to pursue her dream of publishing fiction.  Tobacco Sun is her first novel, and she’s delighted to share it with the world!

Lorna also enjoys serving as President for the South Carolina Writers Association, and loves speaking about her craft at literary conferences and community events (especially charitable ones).

When Lorna isn’t writing fiction, she enjoys blogging about writable women at whatswriteincharleston.com!

Follow Lorna on Facebook, Twitter,  and Instagram for more updates!

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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!”

Summer of Authors #2: Exclusive Interview with Jenn Bishop

Hi guys! Tomorrow I’m taking the ACT, so today’ll be more focused on getting my mind and self ready for big test! But for today… We’re continuing our Summer of Authors with Jenn Barnes, author of 14 Hollow Road, which releases in 4 days! Go check it out, and I hope you enjoy this review!


About 14 Hollow Road14 Hollow Road_jkt_3p.indd

The night of the sixth-grade dance is supposed to be perfect for Maddie: she’ll wear her perfect new dress, hit the dance floor with her friends, and her crush, Avery, will ask her to dance. But as the first slow song starts to play, her plans crumble. Avery asks someone else to dance instead—and then the power goes out.

Huddled in the gym, Maddie and her friends are stunned to hear that a tornado has ripped through the other side of town, destroying both Maddie’s and Avery’s homes.

Kind neighbors open up their home to Maddie’s and Avery’s families, which both excites and horrifies Maddie. Sharing the same house . . . with Avery? For the entire summer? While it buys her some time to prove that Avery made the wrong choice at the dance, it also means he’ll be there to witness her morning breath and her annoying little brother.

At the dance, all she wanted was to be more grown-up. Now that she has no choice, is she really ready for it?


 

Jenn Bishop

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

I love writing for many of the same reasons that I love reading—that experience of stepping into someone else’s shoes and experiencing things alongside them. I can also appreciate now the escape that it provides. There’s nothing like the experience of time disappearing as you write. That total immersion is rare, but amazing! As a kid, I was fortunate to have many opportunities for creative writing in school—especially elementary. My stories might have been a little derivative then, but there was so much joy in their creation.

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

I tend to read mostly contemporary books. It’s tricky to pin down a favorite book—it’s a real moving target, as I read about 150 books each year and I’m always finding new favorites—but some of the authors whose work I most admire include Rebecca Stead, Rita Williams-Garcia, Hanya Yanagihara, Jason Reynolds, and Junot Diaz. It’s hard to say who has impacted my writing style—I feel, if anything, my voice is something I’ve honed and developed over years of sending long emails, talking, and picking up certain modes of speech from friends and family.

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

I’m fortunate right now to be able to write full-time, not that I actually am “writing” for 40 hours a week. A lot of the time I would devote to a traditional job is also used for reading, Skyping with classrooms, and tending to the business side of writing. In my truly free time, I love long distance running, film, and being outside.

Continue reading “Summer of Authors #2: Exclusive Interview with Jenn Bishop”

Summer of Authors Launch: Exclusive Interview with Mindy McGinnis!

Hi everyone! Today I’m am launching the Summer of Authors, a two-month event that last from the start of June to the end of July. We are showcasing and hosting many authors who have or are going to release their books in 2017, and we are holding some fun and awesome interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! Now to start off the Summer of Authors, I had the honor to interview the wonderful and amazing Mindy McGinnis, author of books such as The Female of the Species, Not a Drop to Drink, and her latest fantasy Given to the Sea!


About Given to the Sea25314447

Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.


Mindy McGinnis

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

Honestly I think most authors will tell you we don’t necessarily love writing. It’s work, sometimes almost impossible work. We put it off, and find other things to do instead as often as possible. I wouldn’t say I love it – I’d say that I can’t not do it. I’ve always had stories in my head, but I didn’t write my first novel until I was in my 20s.

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

I don’t really have favorites. I read widely and write widely. If its good, I’ll read it. I don’t really know who has influenced me either, as I do read SO much, it would be hard to pin any one thing down.

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

Writing is the full time job! I was working full time AND writing full time up until about a year ago.

Continue reading “Summer of Authors Launch: Exclusive Interview with Mindy McGinnis!”

Exclusive Interview with J. M. Sullivan!

Hi guys! Today, I have with me another wonderful author whose debut book just released last Tuesday! Please give a warm welcome to J. M. Sullivan, author of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles, a dark retelling of Lewis Carroll’s original novel Alice in Wonderland.


About Alice: The Wanderland ChroniclesAlice Cover Edit

“Always protect your queen.”

Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.

Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.



J. M. Sullivan

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

I have always loved writing. My mom used to read to me all the time when I was little, so I remember growing up with a love of stories and literature. As I got older and realized that I could be the one who told the stories, I started making up my own. Thankfully, my writing has improved dramatically since my first stories about princes and princesses!

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

I love fantasy books. Probably not surprisingly, retellings are some of my absolute favorites. I love being able to escape into a new world that still has a sense of familiarity to it. The one that impacted me the most is easily Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. Not only is it the first retelling I ever read, it was also the very first book I ever picked out for myself at a book store. I absolutely fell in love with the way Levine wove her characters and worldbuilding together to create this magical story that slowly unveiled itself to be a reimagining of Cinderella! I remember being so surprised and happy all at the same time when I found out my beloved Ella of Frell was actually Cinderella! It is the same feeling I want my readers to have when they read my work.JM Sullivan - small

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

As AMAZING as it would be unfortunately writing isn’t my full-time job (yet). To pay the bills, I follow one of my other passions, which is teaching! During the week, you’re most likely to find me in a classroom teaching sixth graders about the wonderful world of Science! Since I’m so busy, in my free time, I really just enjoy spending time at home. My kids and I have dance parties and baking adventures; or as a family we binge-watch movies. It may not be the most exciting stuff in the world, but it’s the little things in life. 😉

Continue reading “Exclusive Interview with J. M. Sullivan!”

Exclusive Interview + GIVEAWAY with Abby J. Reed

Hi guys! Life update: school is going to end in three more days for me! Three more days! I can taste that sweet, sweet freedom now! In the meantime, I am trying to get as much read in the month of May and I’m catching up on all of my reviews! Now, I have a special guest for you today: Abby J. Reed, author of When Planets Fall. I just finished reading it a week ago and it was great! Definitely enter the giveaway below!


About the Book30801623

Breaker’s home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker’s valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker’s leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little ‘stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family’s life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors.


Abby J. Reed

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

I love writing because it’s my way of giving back to the world. I can’t volunteer at events. I can’t cook meals for all my friends who are baby-ing. Right now, I can’t even donate tons of money to help (enter your chosen endangered species). But I can make the world a little more beautiful by telling a story. I can give in this way—by creating art.

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

Most recently, Robin Hobb’s THE ASSASIN’S APPRENTICE really impacted me. I loved how the main character Fitz could’ve totally been “the chosen/special/talented one” . . . but wasn’t. I loved how he became magically disabled and never recovered (some may say it’s not a disability, but I will argue for forever that it is). And yet—he still did his job and did it well. Those are the type of characters I want to create, the one’s who keep going no matter what.

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

Writing is “technically” my full-time job. However, with the whole Chronic Migraine thing—it ends up being a part-time job. I spend the majority of my time managing my disorder, then when I can, I write! But I also love painting. Painting uses different creative muscles and it doesn’t aggravate my head, so I spend a lot of time in my little studio.

4. Your debut book When Planets Fall takes place on the fictional planet of Scarlatti, which is home to three feuding tribes. What was your process to world-build the geography, demographics, society, and culture of Scarlatti and its inhabitants?30801623

I strongly believe a person is heavily influenced by their world, language, culture, everything. I spent a long time researching and nailing down a lot of these details as I began fleshing out characters and writing the first draft. After I have a “poop” draft and knew where the story is going, that’s when I really pour in and make sure the world building is sound and complete.

5. Why do you believe it is important to incorporate characters with chronic illnesses and disabilities inside YA fiction? Since you yourself have Chronic Migraine, which is a neurological disorder, is there anything in the book that has been inspired by your own experiences?

Breaker, Malani, and Luka are all disabled because at the time I was writing—I was beginning to drown in my own disability. I handled the pain well for years. But eventually, you run into a wall. I couldn’t handle Chronic Migraine without more help—I switched doctors, I switched medications, I was seeing a counselor and pain management specialist, and I realized I had a lot of emotions about my disability. WHEN PLANETS FALL became my outlet for these emotions—Breaker’s emotions about his amputation are probably the closest to my own, though Luka has a lesser severity of my disorder.

If they could have this and keep going, then maybe so could I. Writing them gave me hope.

That’s why I think chronic illness and disability should be included more in YA lit. Because all of us need that hope.

6. Which tribe- each based on the blood colors of red, green, and blue- would you want to be and why?

I’d pick Human, red, just because that’s what I already am. There’s pros and cons to each. No tribe is perfect and each have their high points and hidden flaws.

7. Science Fiction or Fantasy: You could only pick one! I know you love to write about both, but which genre as a reader and writer would you choose and why?

Ugggghhhh. Why do you do this to me??? I CAN’T PICK. Ooo. I know. Science-fantasy. Ha. Now I can have both.

8. How is it like being a debut author? What is one thing you wish someone told you before you started writing and publishing?

AbbyI really like being a debut author. I love meeting people and being able to connect and chat about books.

Another author told me recently—she does as much editing as she possibly can before she sells the book. But once she sells, she consideres the book done. I really wish I had heard that attitude before selling. That would’ve helped me manage the stress of deadlines for my health better!

9. Your book is told from three protagonists’ perspectives: Breaker, Malani, and Luka. Which character POV was your favorite to write? Whose POV gave you the most challenges?

Honestly, I loved all of them as I wrote. I was having serious OMG I LOVE YOU BE MINE FOREVER crushes on each. But Luka’s story was the hardest. I re-wrote his storyline probably 3 times before it finally clicked. His depth really surprised me.

10. Do you have any writing habits?

Habits don’t work well with Chronic Migraine. What works today will 98% not work tomorrow. The only habit I can really maintain is during drafting. Whenever I do sit down to write, my minimum goal is 1,000 words, no matter the pain. Everything else depends on the day!

11. Since When Planets Fall is the first book in the Stars Fall Circle series, is there anything you could tell us about the sequel? Could you give us some secrets?

Tahnya will have a POV! And . . . somebody new . . . .(wink wink). Also—I’m a huge believer in consequences. So, actions in book 1 will have repercussions in book 2. Plus, there will be a couple payoff scenes I’m eagerly waiting for :DDD

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

I’m constantly telling this to myself: you are not your work. If your work sucks, that doesn’t mean you suck. If you’re work is awesome, that doesn’t mean you’re awesome. There’s more to life to you, to me, then just writing.

Thanks so much, Abby, for doing this interview! I love your answers! 🙂


About the AuthorAbby

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, When Planets Fall, will be published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at www.abbyjreed.com


Now here’s our giveaway!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules are the same as always! Go enter! You don’t want to miss it!


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

 

Exclusive Interview + Giveaway with Kym Brunner!

To all you Star Wars fans, May the Fourth be with you! Today is also National Bird Day, which brings us to today’s special guest: Kym Brunner! Kym wrote a book called Flip the Bird (yes, there is a secret pun… please see question 5 for that answer… the bird is named Flip), and to celebrate the upcoming “Be Kind to Animals” week and International Bird Migratory Day on May 14th, she is giving away a copy of Flip the Bird! Woo hoo! Here’s a special interview I conducted with her after I saw her at SE-YA (I’ve made a lot of author friends there).


Kym Brunner

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

I’ve always loved reading, but it wasn’t until my thirties that I thought, “Hmm…maybe I could write a book.” I bought a book called “How to Write a Book For Dummies,” and that was all the permission I needed to go ahead and try writing a book too. Found out I absolutely loved it and an obsession was born.

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

I love reading––PB through adult novels––but mostly I read YA and New York Times bestsellers. Growing up I was really into Stephen King because there wasn’t a true young adult category. I suppose that’s why I love suspenseful books so much. As far as writing style, I can only say that I write the way I think and talk, so I don’t model myself after any particular author. But when I first started writing, I was reading a lot of Meg Cabot, Carolyn Mackler, Laurie Halse Anderson, and John Green. Fingers crossed that I picked up a few tips vicariously through reading their books.

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

I always tell my husband that I have two full-time jobs… teaching 7th graders and writing novels. When I’m not teaching or grading papers, I’m writing or thinking about writing. I get up early and write before school, and then work for several hours after school on my novels. On weekends, I still get up early and write, sometimes all the way until dinner. Writing consumes me and I don’t even notice the time.

4. Your latest book Flip the Bird is targeted especially for middle grade to teenage boys. Why did you choose to write for this audience, and how would you respond to that “teenage boys don’t read”?

I didn’t choose the audience; the book chose me, so to speak. I took a falconry class at a raptor rehabilitation center after attending the Medieval Times dinner show, and the sport captivated me. I could easily have made the story a female apprentice, but having brothers myself, I could easily picture this being a dad-son sort of activity. As far as teen boys not reading, I can only shrug. I do think there are a lot of teen boys reading out there, but as a group, their interests might stray toward video games, girls, and sports for awhile. But I’m hoping they eventually come back to reading, and that they continue to make time to read when given a chance to relax. Reading novels not only expands your mind and gets you to consider other aspects of issues, but it’s very relaxing. Everyone needs down time without the noise and violence of a video game to collect their thoughts and think about what kind of person they want to be. Reading gives you lots of opportunities to explore who you are and who you will become as an adult.

5. What was the inspiration for the title of Flip the Bird? Is there a reason why Mercer chose to name his hawk “Flip”? (Is there a secret pun in the title?)

Definitely a secret pun in the title! The original title was (get ready to cringe)  “A Falcon’s Feather.” Yeah, so that is what we call “a working title,” something to put down at the top as a placeholder, but you can see it didn’t work at all. One day, we were laughing about someone flipping the bird to me in traffic, and I was like, “Bam! That’s it! He’ll name his hawk Flip!” Thus, it should probably be titled, “Flip, the Bird” with a comma. 🙂

6. Would you want to be a master falconer? Would you like to have a bird as a pet, and if so which one?

Maybe one day I’ll pursue being a falconer myself, but it is a huge time commitment and can be somewhat of a big expense if you do it correctly. I have had birds as pets before (cockatiels, umbrella cockatoo, green cheeked conure) and have loved them all. I also have several bird feeders right outside the window where I sit and write.WANTED - DEAD OR IN LOVE cover(3)

7. In one of your previous novels Wanted: Dead or In Love, the souls of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde start to take over the bodies of high school students Monroe and Jack. Did you have to do any research on the deadly duo to write this book? If so, what are some of the most interesting or surprising things you learned?

Boy, did I ever have to do research! Hours upon hours of reading books and watching documentaries. The thing that surprised me the most was that Clyde Barrow lived in the poorest part of Dallas during the Depression, so much of the stealing he did in the beginning was to survive and to help his family. I think his first arrest was for stealing a turkey, and another was for failing to return a rental car on time, both in his teens. Not making any excuses for him, but his first murder was a prison guard who had raped him daily during his year incarceration when he was only 17. After Clyde was released from prison, he followed the guard home and killed him.

8. You are currently serving as a 7th grade teacher along with your writing career. How would you instill a new love for books in a student who does not like reading at all?

I talk about how much I love books and have librarians come in and book talk the newest books a couple of times a year. No one likes to be told what to do, so I hope that my enthusiasm for certain books makes them curious enough to want to read it too.

9. Could you tell me some of the reasons why you think that Chicago is the “best city in the world”? If I were to go there (which I already have!), what are some activities or attractions you would recommend to a visitor?

Chicago is beautiful and filled with diverse, smart, talented people. It’s got every type of food you can imagine with a ton of pro sports teams and there’s just a cool vibe when you walk along the lakefront. I’d recommend trying foods from around the world at all of the ethnic restaurants we have, take a bike ride through Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, visit the Art Institute, and catch a free symphony on Wednesday afternoons in the summer near the Bean! Of course you should go have a snack and a drink on the Signature Room on the 95th and 96th floors in the John Hancock (and you don’t have to pay to go to the 98th floor observation deck).

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?

SE-YA Fest was amaaaazing! I loved how many teens were bussed in for the day to attend the event! So fun to talk to a room full of eager readers that had the most hilarious questions for the authors. It was so well run and the campus where it was held was stunning. What I like most is being able to talk with teens about books, and especially happy when they’ve read my book and want to take a picture with me. Makes me feel so happy and proud.

11. Have you written any other works? What can we expect from you in the future?SmartCookie_Cover(1)

Always writing, always hoping the next book is picked up by an editor who loves it too. I’ve written a humorous MG sci-fi novel that my agent will be sending out to editors soon. My “WIP” (work-in-progress) has some “eco-fiction” elements in it the way Flip the Bird did, but this one also has a futuristic world and a suspense plot filled with lots of twists. Fingers crossed that all my books eventually land in the hands of readers.

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

Read, read, read…and write, write, write. Everything takes practice so you’ll have to write for awhile before you can critically read your own work. Join a critique group and have others read your stories and tell you what is working and what isn’t is the most valuable tip I can give you. Writing a book is hard work, but anyone can do it if they dedicate the time to making the pages sing. Best of luck and thanks for interviewing


About Flip the BirdFlipTheBirdCover

Mercer Buddie wants two things in this world: a girlfriend and the chance to prove to his master falconer father that he’s not a flake. With hunting season fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Mercer has only a short time to work with Flip, a red-tailed hawk he irreverently named to show his dad that falconers don’t have to be so serious all the time.


When Mercer meets Lucy, he falls hard for her gorgeous looks and bubbly personality. He thinks his love life is about to take flight, until he discovers that Lucy and her family belong to a fanatical animal-rights organization called HALT—a group that believes imposing any sort of restrictions on animals is a form of cruelty. Mercer soon realizes that if he wants to keep seeing Lucy, he’ll need to keep his love of falconry and his family’s raptor rehabilitation center a secret from her, and Lucy’s involvement with HALT from his family.


With humor and honesty, Mercer’s story shows how growing up means making diff
icult choices…and sometimes, being rewarded in unexpected ways.


About the Author

Kym Brunner dreams entire novels in her head, but needs about a year to write it all down.  She wishes there was an app for this. She’s addicted to chai tea, going to the movies, and reality TV. When she’s not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. Her article, Cracking Down on Multiple POVs:  Surrender and Nobody Gets Hurt, appeared in Writer’s Digest online (July, 2014). She is the author of the three YA novels listed below. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and her two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus named Sophie and Kahlua. Keep in touch by following her on Facebook (Author Kym Brunner), Twitter (@KymBrunner), or at her website, http://www.kymbrunner.com.

Wanted: Dead or in Love, Merit Press, June, 2014
One Smart Cookie, Omnific Publishing, July, 2014
Flip the Bird, HMH Books for Young Readers (coming Nov. 1, 2016)

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Now onto the giveaway!
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Hope you enjoyed this interview! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.
~ Kester