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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Lynda R. Young

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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.

Lynda R. Young is with me today to talk about her journey. She mixes her love of storytelling with game-development. She is a contributor in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond, which is available as a free download, thanks to the wonderful people at IWSG.

 

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

Despite being a slow reader, I couldn’t get enough. The authors made writing look easy. I didn’t realize how much work goes into making the writing look effortless. So with no clue whatsoever, I embarked on my writing journey with a head full of dreams and a heart full of possibility.

It took me nine years to finish my first epic of 219k words. Back then, finding information on the industry was next to impossible unless you knew someone on the inside. I knew no one. Consequently, I remained clueless and eventually gave up trying to get published. It took ten years before writing drew me back. The internet opened up new possibilities. Armed with new knowledge and an online support group of writers, I charged forth. I even wrote books that were almost publishable. While I’ve found success getting short stories published and even a novelette, I’m still working on getting a novel published.

 

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

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have given up so easily. Yes, it’s a difficult industry to break into, but it’s not impossible and we have so many more choices today. Also, when you stop writing for an extended time, you lose some of your writing skills and confidence. It takes a long while to get them back.

 

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

My advice to writers is if you are serious about getting published, then go ahead and eat a slice of reality pie: Writing is the easiest part of it all and that’s still not easy. Once you’ve digested that morsel, enjoy what you do, learn everything you can about the craft, the market, and the industry as a whole. Read a lot and don’t give up. Keep writing.

 

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

The first book I ever wrote is particularly special to me. It remains a hot mess, I might’ve been clueless, I may have made a gazillion mistakes about character arcs, word count, and general storytelling, but I completed it the best I could at the time. I didn’t let fear hold me back.

 

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 characters are the ones who are nothing like me because they are a challenge to write and fun to get into their head.

 

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

My latest project is one that’s taken me in an unexpected direction, a different avenue of storytelling. I’m currently working on a game based on a world I created for one of my books. It has presented a whole set of new challenges, but I’m loving it.

 

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 experienced both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Each project demands its own route for various reasons. For example, I’ve chosen to self-publish a daily devotional this year because the traditional market isn’t in demand for this kind of book. My advice is to remain flexible to the many options available to us. Don’t choose self-publishing because you think it will be easier. It’s not. However, both paths are equally rewarding. And don’t forget to keep writing.

 

Author Bio: Lynda R Young writes speculative short stories and is currently writing novels for young adults. In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative. She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her sweetheart of a husband who is her rock. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

 


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Are You Ready To Commit? (IWSG)

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for our group posting for IWSG. Insecure Writer’s Support Group is the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his co-hosts for February are Gwen Gardner, Dolorah, Sarah Foster, and M. Pax!

This month is all about commitment for me. Writing, after all, is a marathon, and not a sprint, which means it’s important to be able to get down and commit yourself to a project until it’s through. Unfortunately, I’ve wasted the last few years jumping around from story to story. Sure, I have “finished” drafts here and there, but without the polish of revisions, they really can’t be called finished.

So I decided to commit to one of the two stories I’ve been working on. I was happy with my choice. It was something I wanted to focus on and finishing it would definitely be more rewarding than the other one. And for a few days, things were going good… and then that other story just wouldn’t shut up. You know, the one that you thought you’ve read to death and are just sick of that you want to put it aside for a long while? Well, turns out, it won’t leave me alone. But I was committed, and so I refused to heed the call.

Now if this were someone else’s story, that commitment would probably have resulted in much success and rejoicing, but this is me we’re talking about… so no, it didn’t quite work out for me. I was doing more staring than revising. It’s the perennial stuck at start problem, as I made it as far as chapter three. So I caved in, and worked on that other story, just to see if I could at least be a little more productive–and I was. Even things that I didn’t notice before seem obvious to me now.

So I don’t know what the lesson behind this whole thing is, since I obviously did not stick to what I committed myself to. Maybe I made the wrong choice? Maybe it was just its time now, and I didn’t realize it? Either way, I apparently still suck at committing. But for now, I’m going to commit to this one, see where it goes.

Do you find it just as hard to keep your focus or do you stick with a story until it’s done? At what point do you decide to set it aside and work on something else? How do you keep yourself committed when you have that other project that’s just calling you?

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Dianne K. Salerni

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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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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Margo Kelly

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With me today to kick off the new year’s first edition of Behind The Scenes is Margo Kelly. Her debut novel, Who R U Really?, takes us on a scary journey of internet stalking.

 

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

My journey was not a quick or simple one, but I was determined to be published traditionally. In 2009, I decided to pursue this goal. After a lot of writing and revising and querying, and then more writing and revising, my debut novel, Who R U Really?, was published in September 2014. For the entire story, please check out: “How I Got My Agent” on the Writer’s Digest Blog.

 

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

If I had it to do all over again, I would read more books on the craft of writing before querying agents. Some of my favorite books include:
THE FIRE IN FICTION by Donald Maass
SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder
THE STORY BOOK by David Baboulene
SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Browne & King

 

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

Revise. Revise. Revise. Finishing the first draft of your manuscript is an awesome accomplishment, but do not stop there. Revise it. Find a fellow writer to critique it. Revise it. Find another person to critique it. And revise again.

 

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

Who R U Really? is special to me because, years ago, my daughter was nearly abducted by an online predator. After a counseling session one day, my daughter and I played the “what if” game. What if “this” had happened instead of that? What if “this” decision had been made instead of this one? And a novel was born. There are many true scenes in the book along with many fictional ones.

 

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?

Thea is the main character from Who R U Really?, and she is a naïve, tender-hearted teenage girl who hungers to be loved by a boy. When things go wrong with the boy she likes at school, she falls for Kit, a guy she meets in an online role-playing game. She ends up lying to her parents and her friends, because she’s convinced she’s in love with Kit, and she’ll do anything for him. Her world falls apart when she learns that Kit is not who she thought he was. Thea has to figure out who she can trust in order to save herself in the end.

 

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

Who R U Really? is a rollercoaster ride of thrills and chills. I hope that you read it in one sitting, and I hope that you reevaluate your online habits after you close the book.

 

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 chose the traditional publishing route, because it felt like the right choice for me. I wanted the editorial input of a talented agent, and I wanted the business expertise of a publishing house. My advice for writers working toward being published via the traditional route is to make sure your manuscript is as polished as possible before querying agents. Then when you receive feedback from agents or editors, consider their advice carefully and improve your manuscript based on the feedback you’ve received.

 

It’s a great pleasure to have you over in my blog. Thank you!

Thank you for hosting me on your site today!

 

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Author Bio: Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Where to find Margo:     Blog     Twitter

 

 

Would you like to be featured in Behind The Scenes? I’d love to hear from you! New interviews every second and last Monday of the month.

You can also find me on Twitter:


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Mishka Jenkins

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I’m thrilled to have Mishka Jenkins for this edition of Behind The Scenes. It doesn’t matter what you’re in the mood for–fantasy, comedy, historical–Mishka’s stories are sure to make you fall in love. Her latest book, The Magic Spark, is a contemporary romantic comedy–with a dash of magic!

 

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’ve been writing all my life but it wasn’t until last year I decided to go for it as my career. I wasn’t sure where to start, so last December I just started writing my first book and went from there.

 

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

I would have decided to start my writing career earlier! Apart from that though, I am pretty pleased with how it’s been going. There have been ups and down, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?

 

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

Write what you want. A lot of people will say to write what is popular, to write series because that’s what sells, but in the end you have to write what you have a passion for. If you write just to sell, then you run the risk of losing your love for it.

 

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

I think Prophecy of Stones is probably the one that feels the most special to me. It was my first fantasy book, a genre I adore, and I’ve always wanted to write a book like it (a quest, a fun group of characters, a deep love story).

It certainly was great fun to write and I loved every minute of it.

 

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?

Oh, what a difficult question! I love many of my characters, though I do have to admit, many of my favourites are supporting characters.

In the end though, if I’m completely honest, my favourite is most likely the Jester from The Queen’s Jester. He was a mysterious character with a focused goal, and he knew what he wanted and exactly how to get it.

It was nice to let loose with him and write a bit more of a dangerous character.

 

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

My new book is going to be a fun Christmas novella. I hope to write a good amount of festive cheer into it, along with a lot of fun romance!

 

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 am self-published and it’s the reason that I finally decided to go for a writing career. I never liked the idea of handing my hard work over to someone else and giving them rights to it, or relying on others for release, etc.

Self-publishing gives me total control of my work and I can make it exactly how I want. It’s a hell of a lot of work, but always worth it when I can release a new book!

My advice to those looking into self-publishing is to go for it! Ignore the negative comments out there about it and follow your passion. You won’t regret it.

 

Author Bio: Mishka Jenkins lives in the UK with her family and fluffy muse, a rough collie called Harliquin, who she couldn’t write without. Mishka has a penchant for writing love stories in a variety of exciting genres, and plans to keep writing them for as long as she can type.

Where to find Mishka:   Blog      Twitter

 

 

Would you like to be featured in Behind The Scenes? I’d love to hear from you! New interviews every second and last Monday of the month.

You can also find me on Twitter:


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Writers Write – An IWSG Post

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It’s been a rough couple of months and writing-wise, I have not been very productive. I didn’t even get to do NaNoWriMo, as I’d intended. I’d hoped it would help me get back on the saddle, so to speak. But in the end, time simply didn’t permit me to even attempt it.

We all have other things to deal with in our journey–life, work, relationships, etc. It is up to each of us to find the time to dedicate to writing, if it is something that we truly want. So does that mean that I do not want it enough? I don’t necessarily think so … although I wonder whether this is me simply trying to justify things?

Writers write, and the simple fact is, I haven’t been getting much writing done. So that’s my insecurity. I feel that I should have been able to do more. The first half of the year went so well goal-wise, and the latter half was just a downhill spiral. In the back of my mind, I know I should be writing, there’s that voice telling me I should fire up my computer and get writing. But at the end of the day, I find that I don’t have much energy left, and just crash.

With a few weeks before I go on a much-needed Christmas break, I’m thinking it’s time to forgive myself and not beat myself up over what I haven’t been able to do. Instead. I’ll take my break, hope I come back new and refreshed, and pick up where I left off.

Does that sound like a good plan? I don’t know. I certainly hope so!

Any tips on how you guys do it? Do you take planned breaks or do you just keep going? Beat yourself up over those lost time when you should’ve been writing?

 

Insecure Writer’s Support Group is the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his co-hosts for December are Heather Gardner, T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins! Thank you all for your hard work!


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Freddie Remza

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With me today in Behind The Scenes is Freddie Remza, who combines her love of traveling in the stories she tell. Her latest novel, The Poison Ring, takes us on a wonderful journey across Nepal.

 

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

The year was 2004 and I retired from a career of teaching in the NYS public school system. I spent a big portion of my time teaching children the art of story writing. After retiring, I knew my life could not be an endless round of mall shopping or lunches with friends. I realized I needed to reinvent myself, but into what? I heard Lynne Cherry, my favorite children’s author, was speaking at Cornell University so I decided to go hear what she had to say. On the way home I got to thinking, “Hey, maybe this is what I could do?” So like the tuba player who after giving lessons for 32 years decides to play in the orchestra, I spent the next 3 years learning about the publishing business, going to workshops, joining critique groups, and writing a bunch of stuff not worth seeing the light of day. Then in 2007, “The Journey to Mei” was born and the rest is history.

 

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

Probably not. I needed to go through the learning curve in order to appreciate this whole process.

 

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

Stick with it and if it’s truly a passion, you will. Write what you enjoy reading because somewhere out there is someone who is seeking your type of writing. Don’t get caught up with the latest craze and (drum roll) keep your day job.

 

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

Yes, without even thinking about it… “The Orchid Bracelet” and for a couple of reasons. I was writing this book in 2004-2005 at a time when human trafficking was being brushed under the carpet. After witnessing some disturbing things in Vietnam and Cambodia, I knew it had to be the subject of my next book. It wasn’t easy writing about this subject. How can I make this disturbing material real without sugar-coating it, and do it in a way that would not sacrifice my own values? I think I accomplished this because after having reviewed the book, several church groups had asked me to speak to their parishioners on human trafficking. Plus the book was approved by the 2005 Washington State co-director of the ‘Not for Sale’ program. A third reason it’s so special to me—it was a Finalist of two respected book awards. Being self-published, this was very important because it validated 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?

I absolutely love the character, Babu, in “The Poison Ring”. He’s a minor character but his voice adds levity to the story. How to describe him? Imagine a Nepalese Barney Fife kind of guy. He can’t seem to do anything right. I actually giggled whenever I wrote him into the storyline. What fun!

 

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

Currently, I’m halfway through a rough draft that actually uses a few of the characters found in “The Orchid Bracelet,” although it has nothing to do with trafficking. I spent last March in Thailand researching and gathering all kinds of neat things to tuck here and there into the story. Can you imagine the wealth of material that country has given me? Whew!

 

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 am proud to say I dipped my toe into the self-pubbed pool before many other folks did. So much has changed since 2006 and I have to tell you that it feels great to finally be accepted into the writing community, no longer feeling like a second class citizen. There are so many talented authors who had been picked up by traditional publishers and are now realizing how wonderful it is to be in control of their own book. But (as with anything) there is a flipside. It’s very difficult getting the world to know your books exist which is why I truly appreciate opportunities like this one, Maggie.

 

It’s a great pleasure to host you in my blog. Thank you!

Thank you, Maggie.

 

Author Bio: Freddie Remza is a retired teacher with over 30 years of experience in the NYS education system. Geography has always been on top of her interest list and now she has the time to actually get out there and see for herself what the world is about. She’s been on every continent except Antarctica, and if it wasn’t for the Drake’s Passage it, too, would be on her list. Being able to blend travel with the making up of stories has been a real joy.

 

 

Would you like to be featured in Behind The Scenes? I’d love to hear from you! New interviews every second and last Monday of the month.

You can also find me on Twitter:


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Alex J. Cavanaugh

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For this edition of Behind The Scenes, I’m excited to have a chance to interview the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. He is the best-selling author of the Cassa series and founder of Insecure Writers Support Group.

 

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 knew I should’ve taken a left at Albuquerque… I started when I was a teenager, inspired by Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and author Terry Brooks. My first book, CassaStar, was a complete rewrite of a story I wrote during that time. My wife prodded me to submit the manuscript and Dancing Lemur Press LLC picked it up. I only wanted to write the one book, but my fans wanted more. So here I am, still writing…

 

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

I often wonder what would’ve happened if I’d never submitted that first book. I would’ve missed out on the amazing friendships I’ve made over the past five years, though. I wish I could go back and fine tune that first book just a little bit more…

 

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

Consider all avenues. And prepare for your life to change forever.

 

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

That first one, CassaStar, will always be special. It was the story that had been with me for over thirty years. CassaStorm is also special. Everything came together perfectly. I juggled three points of view and the greatest crisis the main character, Byron, had ever faced. Most readers fell in love with Byron’s son, Bassan. Considering I don’t have children, I feel blessed I was able to convey the thoughts of a ten year old boy so well.

 

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 Cassa series follows Byron, so he’s obviously my favorite character. Why? He’s just been with me for so long. We share little in common outside of perfectionism, but I understand him best. What makes him tick? His drive for perfection and to be the best starts the journey. But he has walls that few are allowed to cross. Connecting with others is his greatest struggle throughout the series.

 

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

I recently submitted my latest manuscript, a stand-alone space opera, to my publisher. And… they accepted it!! Dragon of the Stars is slated for a spring release.

 

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?

Traditionally, through a small publisher, Dancing Lemur Press LLC. I never even considered other options. Besides, I knew I couldn’t land an agent. My advice for other writers is to consider every size publisher and every possible genre for their book.

 

It’s a great pleasure to have you over in my blog. Thank you!

Thank you!!!

 

Author Bio: Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Where to find Alex:    Blog      Twitter     Goodreads

 

Would you like to be featured in Behind The Scenes? I’d love to hear from you! New interviews every second and last Monday of the month.

You can also find me on Twitter:


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Elizabeth Hein

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I’m thrilled to have Elizabeth Hein with me today for this edition of Behind The Scenes. Her latest novel, How to Climb the Eiffel Tower, follows the journey of Lara as she goes through cancer treatment, and in the process, learns how to live.

 

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

Before I ever sat down at my keyboard to write, I was a reader. I was that little girl that always had a book in her hand. It wasn’t until I had lived a little that I considered sharing the stories in my head with the world. When I first sat down to write, I intended to put together a series of essays based on my experiences as a cancer patient. It was awful – dry, maudlin, a bit academic. I couldn’t capture the human struggles of the people I met in essays, so I wrote the story of four women that meet in a hospital waiting room. That was the first draft of what would become How To Climb The Eiffel Tower.

The novel ended up taking eight years to write because I had to learn how to finish a novel, as well as gain confidence as an author. I played with changing points of view, cut one of the original four main characters, and rethought the structure several times. I was also reading every book on the craft of writing I could get my hands on during that time. I’m a reader, so I read — a lot.

In 2010, I had taken the manuscript as far as I could and started querying agents. I didn’t get anywhere, but I did learn quite a bit about resilience and the value of hard work. The querying process convinced me to put the manuscript aside for a while and write another book. For the next two years, I wrote Overlook, a snarky look at the underbelly of a snooty subdivision in the New South. That novel taught me how to work with beta readers and how to edit like a reader, as opposed to a writer. While I queried a few agents and eventually decided to self-publish that book, I returned to my first manuscript. After a break, I saw the story with new eyes. Over much of 2013, I stripped the story down and rewrote it.

This time around, I decided to only query a few agents and concentrate on finding a small press to publish Lara’s story. I met Elizabeth Turnbull of Light Messages Publishing at the North Carolina Writer’s Network Fall Conference. They are a family-owned business that publishes novels with thought provoking messages. I was immediately impressed with Light Messages and decided to send them a query. They liked the pages I sent them, asked to see the rest of the manuscript, and offered me a contract in early 2014. From there, it’s been a whirlwind of activity. I am very happy working with Light Messages. I have a great relationship with the editorial staff and I feel they are invested in the success of my book.

 

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

Hindsight is a tricky thing. There are many things I would like to have done differently, yet I sense I needed to learn the lessons I learned, at the time I was learning them. I know it sounds a bit hippie-dippie, but there is something to be said for hanging on tight and trusting the process. That being said, I wish I had been more protective of my early work. In the first few years I was writing, I let too many people tell me what my stories were about and how my characters should act. I joined a few critique circles that left me feeling beat-up and discouraged. I didn’t have the skills yet to distinguish between frank constructive criticism and nastiness. If I could go back and do it over again, I would have left those groups earlier and found my candid, yet supportive, critique partners sooner. A good critique group can make your work sing; a bad critique group can make you never want to write another word.

 

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

Don’t give up. Keep showing up at the keyboard every day and you will eventually get results. Writing is not a pursuit for the faint of heart. An author spends years tapping out draft after draft of a novel to invariably receive a multitude of rejections, before ever getting a positive result. You need a stubborn desire to succeed to sustain you along your journey.

 

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

All my projects hold a special place in my heart, either because they represent a time in my life or because they represent a chunk of hard work done well. So far, the book that is particularly special to me though is How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. It was the first novel I ever wrote and it is the novel that I labored over for eight long years. How To Climb The Eiffel Tower was difficult to write at times because I had to separate my own cancer experience from my characters’ experiences. I think the level of effort that went into writing this book makes it all the more special to me.

 

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 from any of my novels or short stories is Rose Sweeney in Overlook. Rose is the younger sister of the main character, Kitty, and a bit of a psychopath. She was a hoot to write because, as a minor character, she can be outrageous. Rose is judgmental. She drinks too much. She says wildly inappropriate things to Kitty, yet in a crisis, Rose is the first person Kitty would call.

 

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

In a nutshell, How To Climb The Eiffel Tower is a personal, sometimes snarky novel about life, friendship… and cancer.

Here is the blurb from the back of the book:

Lara Blaine believes that she can hide from her past by clinging to a rigid routine of work and exercise. She endures her self-imposed isolation until a cancer diagnosis cracks her hard exterior. Lara’s journey through cancer treatment should be the worst year of her life. Instead, it is the year that she learns how to live. She befriends Jane, another cancer patient who teaches her how to be powerful even in the face of death. Accepting help from the people around her allows Lara to confront the past and discover that she is not alone in the world. With the support of her new friends, Lara gains the courage to love and embrace life. Like climbing the Eiffel Tower, the year Lara meets Jane is tough, painful, and totally worth it.

 

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?

Like many authors these days, I am both self-published and traditionally published. I self-published my first book, Overlook, in 2013 under my imprint Winterfield Press. How To Climb The Eiffel Tower will be published by Light Messages Publishing (an up and coming small press) on October 1, 2014. I’ve enjoyed working with Light Messages because the small staff has made me feel like they are invested in both my book and me as an author. I’m not sure a large publishing house would give me this much individual attention.

 

It’s a great pleasure to have you over in my blog. Thank you!

 

ElizabethHeinAuthor Bio: Elizabeth Hein grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. Her childhood was filled with excellent food and people loudly talking over each other. After studying psychology at the College of the Holy Cross, she and her husband embarked on the adventure of parenting their two beautiful daughters. She and her husband now live in Durham, North Carolina.

In 2002, Elizabeth was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood. During her extensive treatment, she met dozens of other cancer patients and developed close relationships with several of them. These friendships were the inspiration for How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. She learned that a cancer diagnosis is a life changing experience, yet it does not necessarily change a life for the worse.

Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. She has published one other novel and several short stories. She is currently working on a novella and another novel. Elizabeth enjoys interacting with her readers and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and her blog.

 

 

Would you like to be featured in Behind The Scenes? I’d love to hear from you! New interviews every second and last Monday of the month.

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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Terri Rochenski

Behind The Scenes2

Joining us today for this edition of Behind The Scenes is Terri Rochenski. Secret of the Souls, Book 2 of her adult fantasy series Pool of Souls, was released on October 6 and she’s celebrating it with a giveaway!

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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 met and became friends with Anne Tyler. She encouraged me to write the story I had brewing in my mind, so I took the plunge. I was blessed to have her mentor me through the entire manuscript, but it would take almost twelve years of critique forums and cyber-bud be-friending before I got published.

 

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

I wouldn’t say that Donald Maass didn’t know what he was talking about when he critiqued my first chapter of Love’s Sorrow. Yeah. That was before I knew WHO the man is! The memory always brings about a giggle nowadays.

 

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

I’ve said it countless times in interviews – keep writing, and don’t give up.

 

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

Although fantasy, the Pool of Souls series was inspired by real-life events – mine and other friends and family members.

 

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?

I love all my characters, but in the Pool of Souls series, Jadon’s charm swayed my focus more often than not.

 

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

I’m hoping the twisted ending will surprise yet satisfy my readers. It’s one of those ‘for the greater good’ ethical questions. fingers crossed!

 

Secret of the Souls Blurb:

Thrust out of their homes by a human High Priest on a vengeful mission, the Natives of Derlund no longer have a place to call their own. One escaped capture, however, and now she, Hyla, is the only one who can save her people.

For, Hyla, though, saving her nation isn’t her ultimate goal—returning to the Pool of Souls is. Becoming its Guardian and preserving their faith is her heart’s desire. The perils of her current journey, though, could leave her unable to fulfill that dream.

To find her way back to the Pool, Hyla must live among dangerous, powerful humans willing to defend the Natives, and must submit herself—her Talents—to them. While her protection is paramount, plots to end Hyla’s life will push her to her physical and emotional limits.

On the edge of sanity, her courage tested, and convictions nearly broken, Hyla’s final test of loyalty to her faith comes with the death of one she could have loved.

 

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 have six publications with indie pubs, and I’ll probably continue on in the same way. The thought of self-pubbing scares the you-know-what out of me.

My advice to other writers, is keep subbing. Keep honing your skills. There’s a market for just about everything out there, and your voice is as unique as you are.

 

It’s a great pleasure to have you over in my blog. Thank you!

 

Tracey Hanlon Photography Author Bio: Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling. Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.

Where to find Terri:    Website     Blog     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

 

 

If you’re interested in being featured in Behind The Scenes, I’d love to hear from you! New interviews every second and last Monday of the month.

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