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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Annalisa Crawford

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Annalisa Crawford joins me in this edition of Behind The Scenes. Annalisa is a contributor in The Cat Who Chose Us and other Cat Stories–a must-have for cat-lovers everywhere. She is also the author of That Sadie Thing and Other Stories and Our Beautiful Child.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I remember writing a brilliant story about a flying golden horse when I was about 8 – I guess that’s where it started! My dad bought me a subscription to a writing magazine when I was still at school, and that’s when I began submitting to literary journals. At 20, I had two short stories published within two months of each other. But then it all slowed down a little – one acceptance every couple of years or so.

I kept writing though and by 2011 I was getting ready to shelve my novella, Cat and The Dreamer. On a whim I sent it to a publisher – Vagabondage Press – just to have someone read it one last time. They accepted it, and later took my novella trilogy, Our Beautiful Child, as well.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I wish my career had started properly sooner, but because I write novellas and short novels I guess had to wait for the rise of ebooks to get a foot in the door. Not many traditional publishers would want to risk a 73 page novella by an unknown writer. So, actually, no I wouldn’t have done anything differently – the time and the place were perfect.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

• Don’t fear rejection – it’s a learning curve.
• Don’t submit, or publish, your first draft – you might think it’s brilliant now, but it probably needs a little more work.
• Use beta readers – and accept constructive criticism.
• Don’t give up.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

My most recent book, Our Beautiful Child, took me a long time to write. The first two stories came quite easily, but I knew I wanted to make it a trilogy and the third story eluded me for a long time. In the end, the trigger was a song I used to listen to all the time – whenever I heard it, I’d get this feeling, until one day the whole story just appeared. I remember the relief when I realised my trilogy would become a reality.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

My favourite character is Murray from one of the stories in Our Beautiful Child. He’s based on a couple of people I went to school with. He’s the mysterious love interest, dark and dangerous, with a secret. As I was writing him, he took on a whole backstory that I hadn’t expected.

 

6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?

I’ve returned to my first love, short story writing. It’s been a long time since I’ve written – or submitted – short fiction, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can come up with. I love writing with no idea of where the story is going. I take advantage of the short form to avoid explaining anything, to just dump the reader into something extraordinary or confusing.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I’ve published both ways. I love having a publisher, because I need to have someone believe in me, which you don’t get with self-publishing. However, I self-published a collection of short stories, That Sadie Thing, because they’d all been either published in literary journals or had placed/been on the shortlist of competitions – I call it my greatest hits collection – and it was just an easy way to get them in front of new readers. Some of the literary journals had very small print runs, and I’m sure no more than a couple of people read them originally!

My advice would simply to be aware of your options, and know why you want to take one path over another. They are both rewarding, in very different ways.

 

AnnalisaCrawfordAuthor Bio: Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat.

Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and published her first book, Cat and The Dreamer in 2012.

Where to find Annalisa:    Website      Blog      Goodreads      Twitter

 

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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Dianne K. Salerni

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Joining me today is Dianne K. Salerni. She writes MG and YA Fantasy and her latest novel, The Inquisitor’s Mark, comes out on January 27.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

First of all, thank you for having me here on your blog! I’ve been writing all my life, but I was always very shy about submitting my work anywhere. It was my husband who encouraged me to try self-publishing a YA historical novel I’d written about the Fox sisters which I called High Spirits. To my surprise, I was contacted by an independent Hollywood producer for film rights and an editor at Sourcebooks who wanted to put the book under contract, revise it, and republish it with a new title. This became my first traditionally published book, We Hear the Dead, and eventually a 6-minute short film called The Spirit Game was produced, too. (It’s currently being pitched in Hollywood as a TV series idea.)

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I would have looked for an agent sooner. I didn’t start to query agents until after We Hear the Dead came out. I didn’t realize how necessary it was to have an agent for negotiating contracts and looking out for your interests with publishers.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Do your research on the publication process! Read up on agents and publishers and what’s expected for books in your genre/target audience. I wandered into the whole process backward and really didn’t know what I was doing. First I published a book. Then I got a book contract. Then I queried agents and found one. At that point, it felt like I started over again and only really learned the process when my agent sold my next book, The Caged Graves.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

My first middle grade book, The Eighth Day, is special to me. I wrote my YA historicals – including two that have not yet found a home with a publisher – while working full time as a fifth grade teacher. When I started working on The Eighth Day, my students said, “It’s about time you wrote something for us!”

And writing for middle grade turned out to be so rewarding! There’s a lot more fun and humor in these books than in any of my others, even though it’s an action adventure. Plus, I moved out of my established genre (historical) into urban fantasy, which I wasn’t sure I could do. The Eighth Day taught me to take risks with my writing.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

My favorite character is Riley from The Eighth Day. First of all, he’s a YA character in a MG book, so he links my two target audiences. At the beginning of the book, my main character Jax, hates Riley, his 18-year-old guardian, believing him to be a no-good slacker. But when Jax learns more about Riley’s past, finds out who he is and how far he’ll go to keep the people under his protection safe, everything changes. Developing their brotherly relationship was one of my favorite parts of writing the series.

Furthermore, Riley invented himself. When I started the first draft of The Eighth Day, I had entirely different plans for this character. But he took control of himself from page one. This is who I am, he told me. Oh, and I need tattoos and a motorcycle, thanks.

Based on reader feedback, I have found that while everybody likes my main character Jax, MG readers aspire to be Riley and YA readers swoon over him.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

My newest book is The Inquisitor’s Mark, the second in the Eighth Day series. This one was a lot easier to write than the first one, since I already knew the characters so well. I also had the fun of putting Jax in an impossible situation. What does an orphan want more than family, right? In The Inquisitor’s Mark, Jax finds out that he has an uncle, cousins, and grandparents who want to give him a home. Too bad they’re members of a corrupt clan Jax’s father fled long ago – and they would really like to see Riley dead and Jax’s other friend, Evangeline, as their prisoner.

The scenes where Jax meets his nefarious relatives were really fun to write – plus there’s betrayals, chase scenes, magical vermin, and oh yes, a monster, all set in a luxury apartment building in Manhattan alongside Central Park.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

As you can see, I self-published first, then got one of those offers everyone says never happens: a traditional publisher approached me. Over all, I like working with traditional publishers because they have such a far reach in terms of getting your book into stores. You also have more street cred with librarians. However, traditional publishers are very cautious about acquisitions and if they don’t think your book fits the market, no matter how good it is, they won’t buy it. I might self-publish again in the future, but I would always try the traditional route first, because it gets more respect in the publishing field.

My advice for any writer, before choosing a path, is to thoroughly research all the pros and cons – and believe me, no matter which path you take, there are plenty of both.

 

Dianne SalerniAuthor Bio: DIANNE K. SALERNI is the author of The Eighth Day fantasy series (HarperCollins) and YA historical novels, The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH) and We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks). Dianne was a public school teacher for 25 years before leaving the profession to spend more time hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

Where to find Dianne:    Website        Twitter

 


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Ten Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Writing – Guest Post by Elsie Elmore + Giveaway

undead tour banner

I’m happy to hand over my blog today to Elsie Elmore, who is celebrating the release of her debut novel, The Undead: Playing for Keeps, with two giveaways!

Rafflecopter Giveaway         Goodreads Giveaway

*        *        *        *        *

I was thrilled to be asked to do a guest post on Just Get it Written. Caffe Maggieato has a great blog that hosts awesome interviews and provides great tips for writers. (There’s even a Linky Tool for the Celebrate the Small Things weekly post if you want to join.)

Photo Credit: Flickr by Angie Torres

 Ten Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Writing

  1. I’m not alone…per se. There are a lot of writers out there facing the same struggles, doubts, and milestones. Reach out and find camaraderie.

  2. Practice and time will improve your skills. Read, write, and repeat.

  3. Creating your cover with a graphic artist is mind blowing at times. Colors, fonts, perspectives, all have to be factored in. It’s a far more complex task that I initially thought.

  4. Self-doubt is a demon that knows no bounds… but that demon can be tamed by keeping it in check. Believe in yourself.

  5. We’re all a Work-in -progress. (I wrote a post about this.) It’s important to cut yourself a break sometimes and step back to see your growth.

  6. Writing scenes in different perspectives is helpful. Changing POV gives you insight into a characters mind or what’s happening externally. Writing in different perspectives is also great practice.

  7. Critique partners are very important. And they are definitely partners, so be kind, choose well, and reciprocate with the same energy and effort they offer you.

  8. Writing is easier some days than others. If I’m stressed over something personal, I cut myself some slack and work on different aspects of writing so I can let myself settle.

  9. Staying organized will help you manage your time better. Scrivener has been the best tool I’ve discovered since I started writing. This program allows you to plan, rearrange, create character sketches, and more.

  10. Everyone has their own set of goals and their own definition of success. I just need to focus on mine.

The Undead CoverGenre: YA Paranormal Romance

Release Date: September 3, 2014

Where to Buy:

Amazon      Amazon UK      B&N

Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads

 

ElsieElmoreElsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

With a science education degree from NCSU, she never imagined she would someday write stories that challenge the laws of nature. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel.

Where to find Elsie:    Website     Faceboook     Twitter     Goodreads

 


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Cover Reveal – The Undead: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore

The Undead Cover

THE UNDEAD: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore

Genre: YA Paranormal

Publisher: Curiosity Quills

Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson (gothicfate.com)

Release Date: September 3, 2014

Blurb

When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Especially once Lyla’s new talent of resurrecting the dead draws the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper with a guitar and a chip on his shoulder.

While Lyla navigates the gossip-ridden halls, Eric works to gain her trust and discover why Death’s clients aren’t staying down. If she passes on her gift, his death-messenger destiny might be altered. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are way easier to deal with than the living.

Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Lyla
My stomach drops when I see the dead woman lying on the table. Convinced the dim light is playing tricks on my eyes, I reach over and flip the switch. The overhead fluorescents flicker on and light cascades down onto the body. Dread replaces the doubt. I move closer for a better look. She’s not peaceful like the others. This is bad, really bad. Mom will go ballistic when she sees this.

“Lyla, what are you doing back here?” Ben whispers and gives me a playful shove.

I flinch, almost coming out of my skin. Ben’s always been better at the scaring game we started a long time ago. While I both love and hate our game, I also suck at it.

I turn and squint at him. “Asshole. This room should be off limits.”

“Language,” he chides and clicks his tongue. After glancing at the body, he steps up beside me and snickers. “You’re in so much trouble,” he says, drawing out each word as if it were a paragraph.

“No, I’m not.”

“Where’s Kate?”

“She’s gone, I guess.”

Kate Huntington, the eccentric beautician with tacky green highlights is gone, and only her handiwork remains. Glittery blue eye shadow and sapphire eyeliner cover the dead woman’s lids. Black mascara coats her lashes so thickly that her eye sockets resemble piles of tangled spider legs. She looks like a showgirl, an old, dead showgirl. I don’t even want to acknowledge the dark foundation, the cherry red lipstick, or the words “I quit” scrawled in eyeliner across her forehead.

“Mom and Dad are going to freak when they find out she left this. Mrs. Weller’s visitation is tonight.”

“Wait.” Ben’s interest shifts and he takes a closer look at the still body. “This is Mrs. Weller?”

“Yeah.”

“Leave her. Nobody will come see her anyway.” His nose wrinkles at the lifeless form. “Everybody hated her.”

“You hated her. I don’t think everyone else did.”

“She was horrible.”

“You’re still holding a grudge? You were in seventh grade when she busted you for taking off during the Chamber of Commerce field trip. Let it go.”

I lean closer to Mrs. Weller’s face. She looks like a sweet old lady, if you ignore what Kate did, but Ben always hated her. Then again, Ben dislikes most of his teachers. They all want him to work harder to meet his potential. Ben has other plans for his potential.

“Whatever. You wouldn’t know. Your nose stays stuck so far up their—”

I elbow him in the ribs. “Grab me a wet washrag. I’ve got to fix this.”

“No. I’m not touching anything in here, her included.”

“I didn’t ask you to touch her. I just asked you to get a washrag. You scared?”

“Disgusted is more like it.”

I huff, walking over to the sink. The room reeks of disinfectant, but it’s better than the embalming room smell that clings to everything like cobwebs.

“Are you worried Dad will mistake your help for interest? You know, this place isn’t the enemy.”

“Easy for you to say. He’s not trying to steal your future.” He crosses his arms. Ben’s senior year has been a struggle about his future. He and Dad both want control.

Grimm Funeral Home is now run by the fifth generation of Grimms. Dad worked here part-time as a teenager and returned after college just as his father before him had and so on and so on.

“What are you doing here anyway?” he asks. “Mom and Dad will be pissed if they catch you back here.”

“I came to ask Mom about spending the night at Cassie’s.”

“But Mom’s not in here.”

“I know. But I couldn’t walk by the door without peeking. And this is what I found.”

The water from the faucet splashes around the big white ceramic basin. Every room down the back hallway has too much white: white walls, white counters, and white cabinets. Everything feels sterile, worse than a doctor’s office.

“You’re really going to touch her?” Ben asks, now standing farther away from the table.

“Yep. I am.” I haven’t thought about it enough to freak myself out, unlike Ben. “It’s just a body without a soul, like a table. No big deal. Well, except for the horrendous makeup.”

“I wouldn’t. Mom and Dad are going to rail on you if you screw this up, which you’re going to do.” He sweeps his dark hair off his forehead while he inches backwards. “You don’t wear makeup. How are you going to know how to put it on?”

“I’ll rely on my artistic ability.” I dab Mrs. Weller’s face with the warm rag. “Besides, I do wear makeup.”

“Lyla, stop.” He points at the table. “Aren’t you supposed to be licensed or vaccinated to do this? What if she was sick or something?”

Is that genuine concern in his voice? “I’ll be fine. Besides, it has to get done. Mom’s got too much going on today and Dad doesn’t know the first thing about makeup.”

“Touching her is a bad idea,” he snaps.

 

Add The Undead: Playing for Keeps on your Want To Read list on:

Goodreads

 

ElsieElmoreAuthor Bio

Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

With a science education degree from NCSU, she never imagined she would someday write stories that challenge the laws of nature. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel. Find her on the web: on twitter at @ElsieWriter, her blog, or on Facebook.