Q&A with Author Sheena Cundy

We’ve been in the same author circle for a couple of years now, so I’m really excited to feature you! From past conversations, I know we share similar philosophies when it comes to pursuing our artistic passions. What would you say is the driving force behind why you write?

To share and entertain with words and music is an urge which compels me to keep creating in whatever format I can. Whether it’s the page or the stage, performing your own art is the ultimate buzz…and I feel privileged to be able to do both.

What drives me most now is the need to create a living from my writing after years of doing it for love, and (at last) I’m ready to make room for it to happen.

My lovely husband is close to retiring, has looked after me for the last twenty years and needs a rich woman in his life who can work until she dies.

I’ve signed up for the job.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

You recently published a short story, Warrior Queen. What was the inspiration behind that book? And is it a lead-in into an upcoming novel?

Warrior Queen is a song from (our band) Morrigans Path’s, latest album, Beyond the Veil. I had an idea to write a short story for each track…and this is the first published piece.

The song was inspired by Boudicca of the Iceni tribe who fought bravely against the Romans not so far from here in Colchester, Essex. She was said to have worshipped the British goddess Andraste, who is an aspect of the Celtic goddess, the Morrigan. So eventually, the historical and the mythical connection weaved their way into quite a dark tale, which I loved writing.

A number of people who’ve read it have said they could see it being a novel so I’m open to that. The idea of playing around with the mind of a sex-crazed, blood hungry shield-maiden is tantalising… and killing all those bastard warriors in the process seems to me like a good use of all those hours spent in solitary confinement.

You also run a blog where you interview indie authors. What’s one of the best nuggets of wisdom you’ve picked up from one of them?

All the authors have given some great tips. But what sticks in my mind is Australian author, Andrew Einspruch’s advice: Maths is your friend!

I despised maths with a passion at school and have since convinced myself that I’m allergic to figures. But I quite like tracking my word counts, and am beginning to understand how focusing and recording those brings results… and with Andrew’s words in my head I am hopeful I can transfer that across to sales figures and learn to love numbers.

I want to sell lots of books!

Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?

I’ve pantsed my way along so far – and though I recognise the need for a rough outline beforehand – I can see and understand it better after I’ve written the story. I like to know what direction I’m heading in but would bore myself stupid if I planned every step. Where’s the excitement in that?

As long as I have a character and a situation and give the imagination a free rein the story begins to unfold naturally.

Trusting in the process allows the magic to happen!

What project are you currently working on?

I am halfway through the first draft of the third book in my Witch Lit series – The Madness and the Magic. Last week, I got the rights back to the first book, trad-published three years ago and I’m delighted as this means I have total creative freedom with book one in a series which, for an Indie, is a crucial part of the business model.

The noose is off.

I now have to work out the next step, which is to republish book 1 while editing book 2 and finishing book 3. One thing at a time, the husband tells me, who is steadily counting down the days to his retirement while I’m multi-tasking like a maniac.

They say harmony is the balance of opposites.

You’re also a songwriter and vocalist for your band Morrigans Path. (Clearly, you’re a woman of many talents!) Which do you find to be more of a challenge–writing a song or writing a book?

Without a doubt it’s the book writing. I can write a song in a few hours minimum, a few days max.

A book? It took three years from first draft to publication for my debut novel and eighteen months for a first draft of the sequel! The sheer volume of words for a novel is a mountainous feat to me because I am so busy doing ‘other things’ as well.

Apart from domestic and family commitments which I can’t change, I am trying to prune off as many other distractions as I can to allow me to be a more productive writer -that is the real challenge for me! I’m working on the theory that if I keep telling myself how organised I am, then somehow, it has to happen.

Do you listen to music when you write?

No! I have to hear myself think and music is too invasive…unless it’s a song I’m writing.

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

I finished The Author’s Guide to Cover Design by Stuart Bache today and yes, I did enjoy it but I’ve read about four non-fiction (for self-publishing) books on the trot now and I need to escape into a story. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor was the last novel I read a couple of weeks ago and I devoured it in a day. What a great book.

What’s next on your TBR list?

Strangers to Superfans by David Gaughran is sitting on my desk at the moment, but I need some fiction so it’s down to inspecting the leaning tower of not yet reads on the bedside table. Don’t tell the husband, he thinks I’m cured.

Thinking about it, I’ve a feeling it will be Candyfloss Guitar by fellow indie author, Stephen R.Marriott who I’m interviewing in the Treehouse next weekend.

I need to do my homework!

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

That’s quite some time ago now..!

But here goes:

Nurture that book addiction.
Explore, experience and embrace life as fully as you can, diversity will enrich your writing.
Listen and learn from others…everyone is your teacher.
Have the confidence to break away from the herd when you need to..
Know that you can absolutely make a good living doing what you love.
Focus on your goals and plan to achieve them.
Visualize, believe and allow success IN.

To subscribe to Sheena Cundy’s mailing list and get a free book, just CLICK HERE.

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And don’t forget to check out her music here.

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Q&A with Author Brittney Joy
Q&A with Author Caroline Peckham

How to Make Your Pinterest Views Explode

In just one month, my Pinterest views exploded. I went from a measly 1.2k monthly views to 12,000+ monthly views!

Want to know how you can increase your visibility on Pinterest, too?

Perfect! You’ve come to the right place.

 

Like most people, I started out using my Pinterest page just for fun.

 

Even though I technically had a business page, I used it mainly for pinning inspiration for my books.

 

But I’ve realized it can be a valuable tool for growing my blog and my author platform. 

 

After all, it’s free marketing!

 

Yes, it does take time to create content, images, etc. But pointing pins to your blog posts, especially for evergreen content, is a strategy that can be used to grow your platform for years to come.
PINTEREST FOR AUTHORS | HOW TO GROW YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM | PINTEREST FOR WRITERS | PINTEREST FOR BLOGGERS
So, first things first:

 

Most people, including myself, refer to Pinterest as a social media platform.

But really, Pinterest is more like a search engine.

This is why images and copy matter so much.

 

So how does it work?

 

As a user, I search for all kinds of stuff like recipes, Christmas gift ideas, home decor, etc.

 

I might find things to pin either by browsing by typing in a phrase in the search bar or by scrolling through my homepage, which shows both pins from people I’m following and pins that Pinterest thinks I will like based on things I’ve been searching for lately.

 

Because of that, the images you post when uploading (or pinning from an existing webpage) have to be striking enough to pop out at someone who is quickly scrolling through.

 

I think using Canva is a must.

It has some GREAT templates for Pinterest images (which should be verticle rectangles – they take up more of the screen and therefore people are more likely to notice them).

 

I took some time to play around and make designs I’m happy with.

 

Now, whenever I have, say, a new author interview to post, I just pop the new author pic and appropriate author name in there rather than start over from scratch.

You can only upload a pin to your own board – UNLESS you are a collaborator on a group board.

 

With group boards, multiple people can post to the same board. It’s basically a way to make your pins go viral.

 

You can use Pingroupie to easily find group boards on Pinterest.

 

If you haven’t done so already, I recommend setting up a Pinterest business account so that you can see stats.

 

If you set up a business account, you can also get your page verified (note: for me, this was a MAJOR headache – I had to get my husband to do it, and I still have no idea what exactly he did).

Once it’s verified, you can do something called “enabling Rich Pins,” which increases your pins’ visibility on Pinterest.

In the last month, I’ve gone from 1.2K monthly viewers to 12.1K monthly viewers.

 

Pinterest is a major source of my website traffic.

 

PINTEREST FOR AUTHORS | GROWING YOUR PINTEREST PAGE | GROWING YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM | TIPS AND TRICKS

Here are four things I’ve done to grow my Pinterest reach based on all of my research on the topic (keep in mind that I am an author, so my Pinterest page reflects this):

  1. Create at least 20 boards titled with phrases I think people might use as search terms (ex: YA Books, Book Club Party Decor, Bookstagram Inspiration, Bookshelf Decor, etc.).These aren’t all filled with my own content.I repin fun things I find to my boards, hoping someone who happens upon something I’ve pinned clicks through to my Pinterest page and thinks, “Hm. She pins all kinds of stuff that I’m interested in. I should follow her.”
  2. Using Canva, I created images for my boards (pins I uploaded that just link to my website because you have to have a link in there) and then set as my covers for those boards.
  3. For each board, I added a board description filled with what I hope to be relevant keywords.Ideally, this helps whatever algorithm Pinterest uses to show my pins to more people.
  4. When pinning my own content (like from my blog), I try to put relevant keywords in my descriptions, too.


Do you know of any other helpful tips and tricks for leveraging Pinterest to grow your audience?

If so, let me know in the comments below!

 

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Q&A with Author Brittney Joy

YA AUTHOR BRITTNEY JOY

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

It’s easy to tell from your bio that you are a HUGE fan of horses. How did you first fall in love with them?

I think my love of animals was just ingrained in my DNA because I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to all the furry creatures. Eventually, my love of animals also drew me to horses. I started riding when I was about 10 years old. My parents were trying to find something to keep me busy for the summer and they signed me up for a local horse camp. I was hooked from the very first day and horses have been a part of my daily existence since then. I have so many wonderful childhood memories filled with horses, ride-time, barn-time, and horse-friends and, ultimately, that’s how my YA equestrian fiction series, Red Rock Ranch, came to be. I wanted to share the wonderfulness of horses with other young (and young-at-heart) girls. Before I had a horse of my own, I spent many hours reading books about horses and imagining the day I would have one of my own. So, I know how important horse stories are to horse-crazy-girls. As a child, I cherished and devoured horse books. And, I hope to offer that to readers today with my own horse stories.

Do you find ways to incorporate them into your stories?

So far, you will find horses in all of my books. Because they have been such a huge part of my life, I have a hard time imagining a world in which horses aren’t included. My Red Rock Ranch series is a young adult series that follows horse-crazy girls and all their adventures, friendships, and first loves. There’s cattle round-ups, rodeos, cowgirls, cowboys, bonfires, trail rides, horse shows, and general horse-fun! There are two books in the Red Rock Ranch series and I am currently working on the third. I also have a young adult fantasy series called The OverRuled Series. And, horses play a part in this series as well! OverRuled is set in a magical medieval fantasy world so horses are part of the world as far as transportation & in the royal Calvary. However, one of the main characters (Nova) has a magical connection to animals and her best friend is a chestnut mustang named “River.” I’m currently working on the final revisions of the second book in the OverRuled series (OverRun) and hoping to publish it in early 2019.

What drew you to writing in the YA genre?

I enjoy reading many genres – my favorites being romance, fantasy, and mystery (in YA and in adult), but I gravitate toward YA for my writing because I think YA is such an exciting time of life. There’s so much change and growing and “firsts” that occur in the teenage years and I think it’s really fun to explore the emotions and experiences – including all the highs and the lows. However, I do have some ideas for future adult projects so I’m not ruling out that writing avenue. But, for now, I’m focused on YA.

Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?

I’m an outliner. I usually spend about a month freewriting and outlining before I jump into a first draft. During this time, I free-write to get to know my characters, to get inspiration for scenes for my first draft, and to have a better sense of where my story needs to go and the main plot points. I was first introduced to this method by Alan Watt’s 90 Day Novel. If you write, I highly suggest Watt’s book. I recommend it to all my writer friends! It’s like a daily workbook mixed with an inspirational lift and it really helps me to structure my thoughts and creativity. When I get “lost” while writing, I tend to pick up Watt’s book in order to get back on track.

What project are you currently working on?

I’m actually working on two projects right now. About a month ago I sent OverRuled’s sequel (YA fantasy– sequel is called “OverRun”) to my editor and she is working on going through the manuscript. Once she has completed edits, I will dive into final revisions for OverRun and am hoping to have that published in early 2019. In the meantime, I’ve been working on plotting my third book in my Red Rock Ranch Series and I’m just about ready to start a first draft. I’d like to push through as much of the first draft as possible before I jump back into the final revisions for OverRun. I have a hard time writing in two worlds at the same time so it’s best for me to work on one story at a time. Otherwise my brain goes into overdrive – it’s like I’ve got too many imaginary friends talking to me at once. 😉

How did you come up with the idea for it?

My YA fantasy series, The OverRuled Series, started off as a contemporary YA about two witches that hated each other, but were linked in some strange way. That was the root of OverRuled and I honestly couldn’t even tell you where that idea came from. However, it’s been in my head for well over 5 years. After I finished the second book of my Red Rock Ranch series, I was trying to write the third, but I had these two female witch characters that kept overtaking my thoughts. I just couldn’t silence them, so I decided to take a stab at a YA fantasy and follow those two voices. That ultimately turned into a dual point-of-view fantasy filled with two kick-butt heroines, magic, betrayal, family secrets, and one handsome guard with questionable motives. I adore the world of OverRuled. It’s filled with a lot of dark elements, but I try to show the light even in the darkness.

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

I’m just finishing up The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvator. This is my first Stiefvator book and I’ve had it on my TBR pile for forever! Now I can see why Stiefvator has such a loyal fan base. Her writing is devastatingly beautiful. I can literally get lost in her words and I will most definitely be reading more of her work.

What’s next on your TBR list?

So, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (seriously – it’s right up there with Christmas in my mind) and I always try to read a creepy or scary book in the month of October. I haven’t yet fully decided which book I’m going to read, but I’m leaning toward House of Leaves by Mark Z. Denielewski. This was recommended to me by a very respected reader-friend of mine years ago and it’s also on Stephen King’s recommended reading list. It’s written in a very unconventional format (on some pages text is sideways and backwards or there’s only one line on a page) and it’s about a family that moves into a small house that’s bigger on the inside and full of secrets. Sounds fantastically creepy to me!

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Be yourself no matter what anyone says. By doing that, you will find the people that respect and love you for who you are. And, those are the people you want to surround yourself with – those that lift you up (and you do the same for them).

Okay, this has nothing to do with writing, but as a fellow Real Housewives addict, I have to ask – who is your all-time favorite housewife and why?

Yeeeeeeeeeees… I love this question! I am a huge Real Housewives fan and my favorites are Beverly Hills and New York! And, my favorite Housewife of all time is… Lisa Vanderpump, of course! 😊 How can you not love Lisa? She’s wonderfully sarcastic, has a house full of adorable dogs, geese, and mini horses, carries Jiggy with her everywhere (and he’s always well-dressed), lives like a queen in a castle, has a horse that used to be from the Cavallo show, AND she’s a huge advocate for animals and rescues… she’s amazing! I also watch her spin-off show Vanderpump Rules. The next time I’m near Beverly Hills I want to go to one of her restaurants.

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YA AUTHOR BRITTNEY JOY YA AUTHOR BRITTNEY JOY

Q&A with Author Caroline Peckham

What drew you to writing in the YA genre?

I’ve always loved the young adult genre. I’m a massive fan of half the authors whose books sit along mine, so it was natural for me to write it.

Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?

Definitely a pantser. But I do like to write a couple of notes before I start just to get an idea in my head of where the story is going. Generally, I find the book just develops naturally and even I’m surprised at where it goes half the time!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

What project are you currently working on?

I’m finishing the final edit on the sixth book of The Vampire Games series which will be a conclusion to those characters’ story. It’s called Wolf Games: Severed Fates. And it’s going to be action-packed. I’ve also started writing the first book of The Hunter Trials which will be the seventh book in the series and focuses on a new couple who feature in the Wolf Games books. Not to give too much away, but it’s going to involve an inescapable prison for immortals (including vampires, werewolves and sirens) in the Arctic Circle…

How did you come up with the idea for it?

The Hunter Trials came to me after watching a tonne of prison documentaries (I love me some Louis Theroux) then I saw a picture on Pinterest of this huge, black fortress on a mountain surrounded by snow and I was like ‘I need to write this story’. I was really interested in the cliques that form in prisons and how the inmates test each other to gain acceptance and respect. So I scaled this up times a thousand and came up with The Hunter Trials. On arrival, the inmates have to fight for survival to earn a place in one of the four prison clans, and the brutal trials don’t stop there…

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

I proofread my sister’s dystopia book, so that’s the last thing I read. It’s called Adjusted by Susanne Valenti and is the fourth book in her Tainted Earth Series. I highly recommend these and not just because she’s my sister, we’ve always been the biggest fans of each others books. If you like action-packed romances with a dystopian backdrop, her books will definitely be up your street.

What’s next on your TBR list?

I’ve just started House of Darken by Jaymin Eve – really great so far! She’s an inspiration.

I saw on your website that you are super into binge-watching TV series on Netflix. (I mean… who isn’t? Haha.) What are you currently watching?

Haha absolutely! I’m currently watching Goliath on Amazon Prime. It stars Billy-Bob Thornton who always plays a great off-the-rails character. I loved him in Fargo.

As a fellow vampire-lover, I have to ask – what’s your favorite vampire TV series?

It has to be True Blood. I was totally obsessed with it when it was on. I love the grittiness to it and the way the romances develop. I wasn’t too happy with the way it ended to be honest, but the whole series is too great for that to ruin it for me .

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Start writing and self-publish on Amazon when they first bring out the Kindle haha. There is so much competition these days and I think a lot of authors – even the most popular – struggle with staying visible amongst the crowd. Because of this, I think it’s really important to always to extend a helping hand to fellow authors. It’s the only way we can all stay afloat together.

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YA BOOKS | VAMPIRE BOOKS | VAMPIRE SERIES | THE VAMPIRE GAMES YA BOOKS | VAMPIRE BOOKS | THE VAMPIRE GAMES

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Q&A with Author May Freighter

Q&A with Author May Freighter

YA | YOUNG ADULT | AUTHOR | MAY FREIGHTER

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What do you love most about the young adult genre?

Probably because it’s a more story-driven genre with a lot of possibilities. It is also interesting to see how my young characters interact and perceive the world. Though, I fear that my cynicism and sarcasm may sometimes bleed into them when I’m not careful.

Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?

That depends on the story I’m writing. Some stories take months of thinking and plotting while others have an organic growth and can change events at a moment’s notice. I think it’s mostly to do with the characters. A lot of the time, they are self-sufficient and do as they please. I’m only there as an observer. If I feel the story needs more science/facts, then I have to put in more time into breaking down the possible plot holes.

What project are you currently working on?

I’m currently writing a sci-fi mystery, CASE: 2, which is the final novel in the Annalise Storm Chronicles. This book is slowly torturing my mind. I feel that the characters simply don’t want to leave. They are an opinionated lot with strong personalities. Not only that, there is a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up with care. I hope the readers will enjoy it once it’s out this year.

You can find out more about the series on my website.

How did you come up with the idea for it?

This series was an experiment I’ve always wanted to try out. I love mixing genres and having fun with them. Giving characters impossible tasks and seeing how they cope is exciting. Plus, who doesn’t like a bit of mystery, forbidden love, and a society full of prejudice?

May Freighter shares an exclusive peek at the cover for the latest book in the Annalise Storm Chronicles.

 

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

I had to check my Kindle app because I tend to forget the names of the books I read a lot. The last book I read was “HALL PASS FOR LIFE” by Dorothea Lynne. It’s a story about a woman reclaiming her independence and individuality after a long, abusive marriage that wasn’t going anywhere. She ends up falling in love with a younger man who is a celebrity. You can guess where this is going. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who will want to read the book later on. All I can say is that this romance was a good kind of journey.

What’s next on your TBR list?

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness.

Do you prefer to read physical books or eBooks?

I used to prefer physical books until I was forced to spend more time reading on my iPad. Now, I don’t have a 100% preference. If forced to choose, I’d say ebooks for convenience and not having to carry extra weight around when travelling.

When reading physical books, do you use bookmarks or do you fold corners?

*Horrified* Folding covers is a sin. Of course, I use bookmarks. If I can’t find one, I use a receipt or any other piece of paper I can find.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Don’t hate English grammar as much as you do. You’ll come to be best friends with it one day.

As a fellow vampire-lover, I have to ask – do you have a favorite vampire TV series?

Oh, this is a tough one! I was hooked on TVD for a long time, but I think I gave up around season 5. Not sure why. I do love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. To me, that’s a classic and the music is great. I think I’ve watched 2-3 seasons of The Originals. Again, I gave up. True Blood was fun until the last 3 seasons which fell flat for me. The ending made me a sad panda, too. Blood Ties was awesome, but it got cancelled after 2 seasons.

Are we allowed to mention Korean dramas? If so, Blood and The Scholar Who Walks The Night were fantastic.

To answer the question, I have a lot of favourites.

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YA BOOKS | YOUNG ADULT | AUTHOR INTERVIEW | MAY FREIGHTER YA BOOKS | YOUNG ADULT | MAY FREIGHTER | AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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Q&A with Author Becky Moynihan
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Q&A with Author Becky Moynihan

YOUNG ADULT | YA AUTHOR | AUTHOR Q&A | BECKY MOYNIHAN | REACTIVE | THE ELITE TRIALS

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What do you love most about the young adult genre?

That the characters are experiencing new and exciting, life-changing things for the very first time. First love/first kiss? I’m such a sap for that!

The premise for The Elite Trials series sounds fascinating. I love the hook: AN INESCAPABLE CITY. THREE DEADLY TRIALS. ONE WAY OUT. I want to know more! How did you come up with the idea for the series?

Well, I loved The Hunger Games so much and spent years reading other dystopian novels in hopes of finding a similar story plot. Finally, I decided to just make my own! But let’s just say the characters kind of took over and the story is something else entirely. It’s also now a mix of The Maze Runner, The Darkest Minds, and The Scorpio Races, along with several of my own life experiences. “Write what you know,” they say!

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

The last full-length novel I read was The Last Namsara, a YA Fantasy, and I definitely enjoyed it! Fast-paced read and it has dragons. I also finished reading debut novella Wall of Crosses that my friend Baj Goodson just released! It’s a mystery/family drama and I was blown away. Highly recommend.

What’s next on your TBR list?

I think I’ve narrowed it down to Warcross by Marie Lu and The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan.



Do you prefer to read physical books or eBooks?

Well, I think e-books are easier to read, honestly. Lighter too!

When reading physical books, do you use bookmarks or do you fold corners?

Bookmark! But it’s usually a random semi-flat object I just happen to find since bookmarks have a way of not being around when you need them!

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Words are cheap if they aren’t backed up by actions. And… listen to your gut. Always.

As the proud dog-mom of two golden retrievers, I have to ask about your Goldendoodle. Are they as adorable as they look?

Ha! This is a trick question, right? She’s only adorable if you throw her frisbee at least ten times every day. If not… the sass comes out!

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YA BOOKS | YOUNG ADULT | YA AUTHOR | AUTHOR Q&A | BECKY MOYNIHAN | TBR LIST | THE ELITE TRIALS YOUNG ADULT | YA BOOK | THE ELITE TRIALS | BECKY MOYNIHAN | REACTIVE | TBR LIST

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Q&A with Author Dawn Husted

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

What drew you to writing in the YA genre?

This is the age when many people try to fit in or stand out, began to realize who they are on the inside, and experience many “firsts.” I love writing about all of those things, and reading it too!

Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?

I definitely prefer an outline. If I don’t outline, my plot falls weak and my characters stray from their characterizations. I’m not a fan of writing and ditching loads of work, so for me, I have to outline. I’m using the chapter outline in the back of A Wordy Woman’s Guide to outline my WIP for NaNoWriMo!

What project are you currently working on?

A YA romance. All of my previous YA work has included romantic aspects, but this will be the first book that lacks fantastical and paranormal elements.

How did you come up with the idea for it?

Most of my work contains dark twists, which I absolutely love. But I needed a breather, something to lighten the mood, and I had an idea for a romance. The storyline has been a challenge to create, but I’m looking forward to starting the first draft!

I read on your website that you helped build an orphanage in Malawi? Can you tell us a little bit more about that experience? Do you think that experience has influenced your writing?

Yes. I went to Malawi (and other parts of Africa) during the summer of 2000. I had the opportunity to help build an aids orphanage, and it was the first time I had experienced life in a third-world country. This influenced the rest of my life and set me on a different path of understanding and a deep-rooted passion for all cultures. Most of my books have an underlying theme hidden within the story, themes that dive into the basis of humanity, love, and survival.

 

I also saw that you are really into camping. Would you ever consider “glamping,” or do you prefer the more traditional camping experience?

I prefer the traditional, no electricity, out-in-the-middle of nowhere type of camping. The connection and peace I feel when I’m completely disconnected from the “world” is something I can’t experience in any other way. I also love kayaking and fishing, but I’m not an expert!

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

I’m in the middle of reading Imposters by Scott Westerfeld. And I’m enjoying it so far! His books are fabulous.

What’s next on your TBR list?

The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell. It’s not my typical kind of read, but it seems fascinating in a historical sense.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Trust your heart and don’t worry about following the society’s “standards.” Standard is overrated and dreams are undervalued.

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Q&A with Author Stevie Rae Causey

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What drew you to writing in the young adult genre?

Young adults are in a pivotal stage of life. They’re learning about who they are, what they believe, and where they fit into the chaos that is life. Their souls are on fire in a way that can only be described as magical, and the words that they read and relate to become foundational in their development.

As a young adult I didn’t have many places to turn to for wisdom. In a way, books saved me. They gave me something to relate to, to look up to, to model myself after. They still do! So many hard subjects can be addressed in literature for this age group and it doesn’t have to be preachy or lectured. Its simply experienced, and tucked away somewhere in their core to use when needed. I want to be part of shaping that, forever.

When preparing for this interview, I read your author bio. Honestly, it made me a little teary eyed. The message your father wrote for you in the copy of Lord of the Rings was so moving (you can read it here). Was Lord of the Rings the book that inspired your love of epic fantasies?

In so many ways, yes. I grew up watching the old 1970’s cartoon version of The Hobbit. It was one of my favorite movies. When I was in second grade, my teacher let me in on a secret: It was also a book! I still have my very first copy of The Hobbit, which I got second hand in the fourth grade. By fifth grade I had LOTR as well. There was so much magic and wonder, and also so much depth of emotion. I was especially drawn to the leading male characters who showed so much fondness and vulnerability for their companions. It was definitely my first love when it came to Epic Fantasy.

I also noticed you referenced Roald Dahl in your bio. I have to ask – what’s your all-time favorite children’s book?

This is a hard one for me to answer because there are so many amazing reads for kids that I find myself reading and re-reading. Right now I’m sharing an old favorite, Jeremey Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, with my middle child so its the first to come to mind.

From what I’ve read, you seem really adventurous. Diving with sharks? That sounds terrifying. Do you think your adventures help fuel inspiration for your creative work?

I think my adventures are both a catalyst and a result of my creativity. Going back to the LOTR reference, one of my feelings upon reading it and comparing it to where I was at the time was that there were no real adventures in the world outside of books. No quests to go on. I decided then that someday I would make my own adventures. It took me awhile to get here, but I’m finally making it happen.

Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?

I started out as a pantser more or less, during Nanowrimo in 2013. The more I write, the more I’m discovering that I’m actually a lot more productive if I outline, so I’ll be outlining my entire next series before starting the writing process.

What project are you currently working on?

For my own work, I’m currently finishing up the final book in my Amasai Rising trilogy (Here’s another place you can see Tolkien’s influence on my work, as the series began with a stand alone book: Ring of Fire, and then morphed into an accompanying trilogy)

How did you come up with the idea for it?

The whole thing started as a story I wrote (poorly) in the middle of my 7th grade Earth Science class. We were studying volcanoes and I was daydreaming, thinking about magical lands. A slide was brought up on the screen about the Ring of Fire and I thought what a great title that would be. I had about 40 handwritten pages which I carried with me everywhere I lived until it became my debut novel in 2016. The book is dedicated to that science teacher, who caught me off task and let it slide, saying “Remember me when you’re famous” 🙂

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

I just finished The One and Only Ivan on audio. It was magnificent. Oddly enough I only recently discovered that Ivan used to live in a strip mall about 40 minutes from me. One of my next adventures will be visiting his old enclosure.

What’s next on your TBR list?

It’s so very long! I’m working my way through Jesikah Sundin’s Biodome Chronicles. I also have Ogre Enchanted, Children of Blood and Bone, As Old as Time, Aru Shah and the End of Time, and Daisy Bold and Beautiful on my list off the top of my head.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

I don’t like to mess with timelines, because I quite enjoy who I am most of the time now. But if I were to choose something, I wouldn’t need to say it to myself because someone else did it for me. My best friend’s dad once wrote in a letter to me “You grow when you grieve.” It was impactful, and is tattooed on my right forearm.

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Q&A with Author A. P. Mobley

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

What do you love most about the young adult genre?

Everyone changes and grows so much throughout their entire life, especially in their teenage years. I think we get so many major life-lessons in that time, and you get to explore a lot of that in the YA genre.

You describe yourself in your bio as a huge nerd. Let’s hear it – what’s the nerdiest thing about you? (No worries – this is a judgment-free zone!)

I talk about Avatar: The Last Airbender ALL THE TIME, way more than my family and friends can stand to hear, I wear a Hufflepuff lanyard to work every day (it’s awesome when people recognize it and tell me what their house is), I collect various Disney, Tim Burton, Sailor Moon, and Adventure Time plushies and figurines (especially Funko Pops!), and I own a really awesome rendition of Luke’s light saber (I may or may not wish on a daily basis that it was real, and that I was strong in the force).

Your series War on the Gods is inspired by Greek mythology. Have you always been interested in the subject?

When I was between 11-12 years old I read a trilogy called AVATARS by Tui T. Sutherland. It was so good I read it in about 24 hours! It featured mythologies from all around the world, including Greek mythology, and that’s basically what started my love for it. The trilogy didn’t feature enough Greek mythology to satisfy my craving for it, so I started going to the library and checking out every book I could find on it, and I’ve loved it dearly ever since. It’s a part of my identity now.

YA BOOK | AP MOBLEY | HELM OF DARKNESS

How did you get the idea for the series?

Around the same time I was going to the library and learning about Greek mythology, I wondered to myself, “What if the Greek gods were real? What if they were angry enough at humanity for forgetting them/deciding they were myths that they decided to destroy the world? Who would save it?” and the idea just grew from there.

Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?

I started out as a pantser and quickly realized it most certainly was not for me. I make outlines now, and even if I change up some things I stick to the basic idea of the outline at the very least.

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

The last book I read was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which is a Jungle Book retelling except the little boy goes and lives in a graveyard and is cared for by ghosts. I absolutely LOVED it. If you haven’t read I highly recommend it. It’s the kind of book that has you guessing all the way through, and it left me in tears at the end.

What’s next on your TBR list?

Right now I’m reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll for extra credit in my English class, but I really want to be reading Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Not that Alice isn’t great, I’ve just heard that Children of Blood and Bone has reminded a couple people of Avatar: The Last Airbender ha-ha!

Do you prefer to read physical books or eBooks?

It depends. If I’m reading an author I’ve never read anything from before, I’d prefer the eBook because if I end up not liking it it’s not taking up space on my shelf. But if it’s a book or author I know and love, I want it on my shelf to look pretty.

When reading physical books, do you use bookmarks or do you fold corners?

I use bookmarks! Who folds corners?!

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

It’s okay to be alone; you don’t need anybody but yourself.

YA BOOK | AP MOBLEY | HELM OF DARKNESS

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Top Facebook Groups for Indie Authors

I’ve mentioned before that the indie author community is a powerful resource. Indies are known for helping lift each other up and sharing what they’ve learned along their journeys so that others can find success, too. Here are a handful of Facebook groups open to indie authors. You’ll find these groups to be welcoming and encouraging – but before you post a question, be sure to search the groups first. Chances are, many people have had the exact same question and it has been answered many times.

Oh – and the number one rule across these groups? No self promo. You’re talking to other authors who all want people to buy their books, too. But finding readers is NOT what these groups are for. They’re for helping each other learn and grow. Trying to sell your book to fellow community members is a quick way to get your post deleted – and yourself removed from the groups.

20BooksTo50K – Run by the powerhouse that is Michael Anderle and his amazing team, being a part is this group is practically a must for any indie author. You will find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had and be able to cheer on others’ successes as they post photos of them typing “the end” on their manuscripts – often photographed alongside a celebratory drink!

SPF Community – Ok, I realize I’m starting to sound like a walking advertisement for Mark Dawson, but there’s a reason you hear him come up so often in the indie community. His SPF Community group is open to indie authors and is a great place to find support, encouragement and answers to your questions. (But again – remember to search the group first to see if your question has already been answered!)

The Blurb Exchange – This is a fairly new group, but I think you will find it to be a valuable resource. If there’s one thing indie authors are known for complaining about, it’s writing blurbs. It’s amazing how we can write 80k+ words in a book, but that little bitty blurb can be complete torture to write. How are you supposed to summarize your masterpiece in a few paragraphs – and make it sound interesting enough that people want to buy it?! In comes The Blurb Exchange. The premise is simple: you help other authors with their blurbs first, and then you post your blurb and get their feedback.

Once you’ve joined these groups, you’ll quickly find that there are all kinds of specialized groups for the particular genre you’re writing in. As a YA sci-fi and fantasy author, I have found AAYAA, SFF Book Bonanza and SF/F Cross Promo Bulletin Board extremely helpful.