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Sleepwater Static by Kathrin Hutson – Author Interview

About the Book

They say home is where the heart is. Now that Sleepwater’s on the run, home is just another place to hide.

Wyoming’s Sleepwater chapter is on the run, hunted for their ability to spin a beat. With little time to mourn the members they’ve lost, Bernadette Manney takes the group to the one place she swore she’d never see again: the cabin in Hollywood, South Carolina. It’s remote enough to lay low and catch a break, but not for long.

Their beats are condemned as mutations, radical terrorist tactics, and felonies punishable both by and outside the law. Bernadette thought Sleepwater would be safe here, but returning to her Southern roots unleashes more demons than she left behind. Her past, her love, and even her own flesh and blood won’t let her move on through a venomous society intent on rooting out her people. Now, to bring a mother’s first child safely into an unsafe world, Bernadette must face her own shame from before Sleepwater itself was born. But redemption and forgiveness may be too much to ask, and it may just be too late.

Interview

What is your ideal writing setting (outside, at a desk, etc.)?

I used to be able to write absolutely anywhere when I was in high school and college—at my desk at home, out in a field, on a plane, at a coffee shop or the library or during my classes (not something I recommend, unless one can also ace said classes at the same time…). These days, though, I’ve become particularly attached to my home office. It’s not so much the specific room in a specific house that makes the ideal writing setting (the longest I’ve ever lived somewhere is in our current house now for almost two and a half years, and we’re moving again soon anyway). But I definitely need a dedicated writing space to “get in the zone”, with a closed door and privacy and where no one else walks in to disturb me unless it’s an emergency. Plus, I can admit I struggle with anxiety when I’m out in public, and if I’m not completely focused on enjoying myself in public (as opposed to trying to focus on writing), nothing works out the way I want it to. So I have my standing desk in my office, my bookshelves and cabinets full of books and my own writing (physical books are still just such a comfort and inspiration), all my tools around me, my fancy “sometimes I sit down for 9 hours a day and need back support” pillow, and I’m good to go. That’s when the day flies by, and the only commutes I have to worry about are my trips to the bathroom and the kitchen! Seeing as writing fiction is my full-time 9-5, this is incredibly helpful. 

How do you deal with writer’s block?

These days, when I hit a bout of writer’s block (and it doesn’t happen very often, but it definitely does happen), I just keep pushing through. I have deadlines to meet and word-count quotas to reach every day, which definitely helps push me through those moments of, “I have no idea what I’m writing right now.” So the days I experience writer’s block are, admittedly, lower word-count days. 

The fact that I write all day in sprints helps tremendously! Even if I’m feeling stuck on something, I know that when my timer goes off (my sprints are anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes long), I’ll get a little break to stand up, stretch my body, and focus my brain on something else for five minutes before getting right back to it. The solution I’ve found that works for me personally is to just keep going, even if I’m writing slowly or writing something that will need to be revised in the future. Because writing something is better than writing nothing at all, and eventually, I get back into the zone and pick up the speed, and the “block” passes. 

What authors/books inspired your writing?

My top favorite authors are: Stephen King, Jacqueline Carey, William Gibson, John Irving, and Neil Gaiman, Quite a range, I suppose. A few of their books have directly inspired some of my own characters and storylines, and most of their work I just love for the sake of reading and enjoying them. I’m not sure if I’d say that any authors inspire my writing per se, because I can’t remember a point of trying to emulate the way other authors write or to “be like so and so”. But I do have my favorites, and I supposed that good stories and great writing are a form of inspiration all on their own. There’s nothing like cracking open a favorite book that I’ve already read many times and knowing that I’m going to enjoy it all over again (I’m currently reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series for the 10th time).

What are some of your favorite writing tropes that people usually hate?

One of my favorite things to do with writing tropes is to use them to the fullest extent that they benefit the plot and then flip it on its head completely. Is the main character fighting for love? Great. Let’s make it an obsession or a compulsion, where the main character and the reader can’t quite figure out if that love is real or worth fighting for, but they’re doing it anyway. Is this character “the chosen one”? Awesome. Let’s make the “chosen one’s” goal as vague as possible and give them absolutely no control over how to “fulfill that destiny”. Not so chosen anymore, are you? 

I think my favorite trope to work with is the epic journey, which I know some readers can get pretty sick of seeing over and over. But 99% of the time, my heroes’ epic journeys aren’t necessarily to reach the end of the quest and fulfill some massive responsibility that defeats the villain and saves the world. My heroes’ epic journeys are within themselves, and more often than not, I don’t have cut-and-dry villains in my work. I’ll slap a main character into a quest and give them nothing in return, so what they get out of it is personal growth, or not dying, or an understanding/epiphany that what they thought they wanted wasn’t actually what they were chasing all along. That, to me, is far more interesting than “saving the day”. I love to write tons of action, suspense, and violence within character-driven stories, just to make things interesting. 

Has the coronavirus impacted your writing in any way? 

It has in the sense that my three-year-old is now home every single day instead of being in preschool. My husband is a stay-at-home dad, so we’ve been remarkably fortunate in that we haven’t had to change our schedules much in order to accommodate a lack of childcare during this time. So while my husband and our kid are doing their thing during the day, I just keep writing away in my office. And I bought myself a better set of headphones so I can drown out the noise!

The biggest change for me personally, which I probably wouldn’t have discovered without this current situation in the world, is that I do actually “recharge” myself, on occasion, by getting out and interacting with other people. As a severe introvert working from home, I normally don’t get out much anyway. And it took me a little over six weeks through this pandemic to start feeling a desire to get out and enjoy time with friends and family. Most of that, I think, comes from the fact that I know my husband and daughter thrive when they’re surrounded by people. Going through these unprecedented times with social isolation and stay-at-home orders during the end of Vermont’s very long, very dark and cold winter didn’t help much either. We love to hike and get out in the sunshine and nature, and that’s been a lot harder to do this year. Thankfully, things are starting to clear up, and it’s been hugely beneficial for us to get out of the house and out in nature where we’re not freezing on the trail. 

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Just keep writing. It’s said so many times by so many different authors, but I wholeheartedly believe this is the number-one thing an aspiring author can do to improve their craft, to learn about themselves and how they write, and to develop their strengths in writing. Just keep going, don’t give up, and get those words down on the page, even if they’re awful and will never be seen by the light of day. Trust me, I have whole piles of writing that will never get picked up or even repurposed into something else. But they got me to where I am today. 

 

About the Author – Kathrin Hutson

International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson has been writing Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and LGBTQ Speculative Fiction since 2000. With her wildly messed-up heroes, excruciating circumstances, impossible decisions, and Happily Never Afters, she’s a firm believer in piling on the intense action, showing a little character skin, and never skimping on violent means to bloody ends. Kathrin is an active member of SFWA and HWA and lives in Vermont with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

For updates on new releases, exclusive deals, and dark surprises you won’t find anywhere else, sign up to Kathrin’s newsletter at kathrinhutsonfiction.com/subscribe

Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Buy the Book

Goodreads | Amazon 

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Tainted Lionheart by Christine Weimer – Guest Post

About Tainted Lionheart

Tainted Lionheart is a collection that focuses on the progressive phases of heartache. Broken into three parts, Christine Weimer takes you on a journey through the bruising and brooding of pain- and the process to which we breathe through it. It speaks to a vast audience in representation of the mess-to-mending of heart. It gives voice to those who need to be reminded that it is okay to hurt, and it is okay to be angry but it is imperative that we find our inner-strength so that we may let go, rise, and begin anew.

The compilation of poetry and prose works you through the motions of honing your inner lionheart by understanding that you are brave enough to recognize hurt, work through your fury, and find ways of acceptance. Though life may taint us, we all have a lion, or lioness, within us.

For far too long, I let my ego get the best of me every time it would convince me that I’d never be a writer. Despite my longing desire to establish my career while interweaving my greatest passion for words, I found myself consumed with self-doubt. Second guessing my ability to use my voice, I put the idea of becoming a writer on the shelf. Telling myself that though I’d always have the creative outlet, I just couldn’t see myself writing on a larger platform.

And then circumstances of life experience hit me like a thunderbolt during the most vulnerable time in my adult life. I went through something- as we all have been through things- and those things left me with an overload of emotions and feelings I just did not know where to channel. But I knew I needed to put them somewhere. At the time, my situation was personal to me, as I had not confided in the ones I loved about what was happening. So, I did the only thing I knew how to do instead. I wrote.

And I wrote. And I wrote. And after that, I wrote some more. I started to realize that through the words that flowed, I was learning more about who I was than I ever had before. Not to mention, I began to see that writing poetry was the least destructive way for me to wrap my head around my circumstances to understand what had landed me where I was.

I would sit in my little potted garden in a section of my driveway in the late hours of the night while my baby girl slept and let whatever was in my mind spill out into my notes. I’d cry, and I’d ponder, and I’d question my own words when they’d hit me with the truth I didn’t realize I had in me. Before I knew it, a spring into summer had gone by and 400 poems were sitting in my phone. Poems that I would often go back to and read and feel a sense of placement in my own world.

Those poems contained the most intricate, vulnerable pieces of me at the time- but they were my truth. And, not to toot my own horn, but they were by far the best works I had ever composed in my life. Every piece I wrote was one  step towards validation that there was, in fact, a voice to be heard here. With each stanza, I felt my mind get louder in its tone with me, reassuring me that what I was putting out there was important.

I vividly remember the moment I knew these poems were more than just my therapy. I was playing with the concept of a lionheart. This idea that despite having been hurt that I was still a courageous person. I came to see that in actuality it was what had happened to me that turned me into the lionheart I had believed I was. I was tainted. But I was strong.

So, I wrote a letter to my tainted lionheart. I told her everything I thought she needed to know. I read it back and while tears streamed, so did the epiphany that this was it. This was my story. This was my first manuscript. Tainted Lionheart. That is me. And I needed to be unashamed to show this to the world.

I knew I couldn’t have been the only one who had fallen upon the journey I had endured, and even if I was, that there were other women out there who also felt alone in whatever it was they were going through. I started thinking about how sad it was, that so many of us felt we had to sweep the unsightly sights of our lives under the rug for the sake of carrying a shame that wasn’t ours to begin with. In that instance, I felt it was more of my duty than my choice to put this story out there. If I could be one more woman who refused to carry that shame, then that’s who I’d be.

I compacted Tainted Lionheart from 400 pieces down to about 120 of what I felt told the story best. Broken up into three sections- bruising, brooding, breathing- I wanted to be sure it was displayed in a way that took readers through the journey with me. The part where I was hurt, the part where I felt down, and the part where I rose from ashes. It was important for me to portray the concept that it was okay to hurt, and it was okay to want to revel in your sadness for a while, but it is absolutely imperative that you end up standing taller than you ever had before.

But it was when I began shopping around for publishers, that the true voice of Tainted Lionheart came to light. Despite having made some connections to publish on a more mainstream platform, I began fearing that the personal connection I wanted to make to the women who read this book may have been lost when I gave up most of the control to my work.

I toyed with the fear of losing my integrity to not wanting to become a famous author, but just be
a pillar to this idea that women can share their stories with grace and without abashment. In spite of this worry, I was no longer second guessing the ability I had to publish my work, and that was the most significant part.

Then one day, shortly after I had completed my BA in Creative Writing & English and had turned down an offer by a small publishing house, I sat with my best friend of twenty years and expressed to her the concerns I had. I expressed to her that in this process I had learned so much about the publishing world, and about constructing a manuscript. I wanted to do it on my own. Stick it to the man and create my own platform for this story to be published on. A platform where women like me, women who felt their voice was irrelevant, could find a place to speak it loudly.

So, that’s what we did. Our Galaxy Publishing was established in August of 2019, and from the moment we began using the space to speak about my story- our whole worlds changed. I found myself engrossed in countless women who had reached out to me after they found out I was about to be publishing a collection regarding this type of story. Women who related to me, who were inspired by me, women who validated that what I had to say mattered.

Tainted Lionheart was released on November 13, 2019, and I am so proud to say that it sold over 100 copies in its first week of sales. Having had no audience prior to publishing this, I have never felt more accomplished as I do knowing that this book has reached and resonated with people. It has been just four months since publication, and as its audience continues to grow, so do I.

This book was not just about a scorned woman’s cold heart warmed up again. This book was not just about putting work out there and being able to say I was a published author. This book was my freedom. This book was my way of saying that I did not have to live with what had happened to me as if I were a caravan for its weight. This book was my way of establishing myself not as a writer, but as a vessel for others like me.

I am anxious to see where else this book takes me, and even more excited to see where the next one goes. But above all, I am full of gratitude for the opportunity to help other women find their place among the stars. The chance to show them that, they too, are tainted lionhearts.

Christine Weimer is a native New York City Writer, Publisher, Editor, and Co-founder of Our Galaxy Publishing. Her passion for wordplay began at eight-years-old when she explored writing as an outlet of self-expression. The craft has flourished with her through all phases of life- both simple and complex.

After obtaining her BA in Creative Writing & English, Weimer sought a way to professionally, and creatively, express her voice to promote fresh conversation and thought through open interpretation. She currently lives with her daughter where she writes and runs her businesses from home. She prides herself on family values and thrives on learning and observing those around her.

Tainted Lionheart is her debut collection.

Connect with Our Galaxy Publishing!

Publications | Christine’s Instagram | Facebook | Instagram

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I Started a Podcast!

Hey everyone!

I hope y’all are enjoying your social distancing and that all of you are healthy and happy out there, wherever you may be. I recently moved into a new apartment with some roommates and all my college courses have been moved to online for the rest of the semester, so I have a lot of time on my hands to start doing new things!

Are you a big nerd? Do you like books? Movies? TV shows? Games? Then you might be interested in my new podcast, [Insert Nerd Topic Here]. We currently have 2 episodes out!

Our first episode is an introduction to our podcast! Today, we released our first real episode about The Witcher! In this episode, we talk about the Netflix show, the book series, and the game. There’s so much information to talk about for this topic and it’s something we both were really passionate about. We actually had to make this into multiple episodes.

If you love nerdy things, I will be talking about books or anything that y’all want to talk about in the near future. Drop suggestions below or on social media and please share this around, we have been working so hard on this and I really enjoy this new branch of media!

Check out our website here to listen to all our episodes. We are also on Spotify and Apple Podcasts!

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The Magicians by Lev Grossman – Review

A thrilling and original coming-of-age novel for adults about a young man practicing magic in the real world.

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

Review:

Initially, I rated this book 4 stars, but as I was writing this review, I realized I leaned more toward 3.5. 

Spoilers for the book and show are present but probably not life-changing.

I read this book because I absolutely adore the show and after binge watching season 4, I decided I need more of the universe and I thought it might help throw me out of my reading slump. Admittedly, I watched the show first, which is something I try very hard not to do, but in this case I didn’t even know there was a book. 

For those of you that just want a short review: Just watch the show, it’s better.

Yikes! A show that is better than the book? Unfortunately I feel like this review is going to more of a comparison. Grossman tries really hard to immerse his readers into the world of The Magicians, but if I hadn’t already seen the show, I think I would have been quite lost. The thing that threw me off the most about this book is that the main character, Quentin Coldwater (who I love), isn’t even out of high school when he gets whisked away from his life and everyone he knows to go to Brakebills College, a school that teaches magic. At the start of the book, it’s clear that Quentin has some serious depression and that he feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere. However, the further you  get into the book, the more you realize that that’s simply how the narration is written. Unlike the TV show, this book talks about Quentin’s magical experiences over the course of at least 5 years. It jumps around quite a bit, but there were times I felt like it helped me understand parts of the show where I had been confused. However, this constant jumping around also made me feel like we were simply skipping over the nitty gritty details and jumping right into the most interesting thing to happen to him every year. This isn’t something I would normally complain about, but when you just get into his 4th year at Brakebills for a chapter and then instantly jump into his 5th year, it feels a little off.

The thing that really hit me was how bitter the characters all were. It was like Grossman was trying to convince me that magic was terrible and life-ruining. The characters were driven mostly by emotion, often betraying their friends and getting into screaming matches only to sleep with that person or forget an altercation ever happened at all. Strong characters that I love in the TV show suddenly were weak and quiet or considered obnoxious and scandalous. It was quite jarring. 

A side note: This book was published in 2009, but for some reason still used the outdated term “hermaphrodite” in one instance, which felt weird to me. No one in editing thought that should be addressed?

Throughout the whole book, you’re always been told about the books Fillory and Further because they are books that the main character Quentin was in love with since he was a kid and then continued to love long after his friends and peers had given that up. Believe it or not, Fillory doesn’t become a reality until the last 150 pages or so.  I mean they put the map of Fillory in the book’s end pages for god’s sake, you would think it was the main plot point. But the real plot point of the book seems to be “How will Quentin handle this next magical thing?”. It’s somewhat unclear. What is clear is the theme of “magic always comes with a price” or “dreams are never what you thought they would be” which is very Once Upon a Time, but accurate.

Overall, if you want a book that talks about the principles of magic and jumps around from interesting plot point to interesting plot point with characters that might all love or might all hate each other (it’s really hard to tell), then this might be the book for you! However, if you want a TV show packed full of action with badass females, an awesome magic concept, and multiple universes, I definitely recommend watching the show first and then reading the book to see what was supposed to happen. Honestly, the show runs relatively the same as the book, with a few tweaks here and there that were actually for the better.

Bonus points awarded for: unique magic system, book inside of a book, and map

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Book vs. Movie

It’s a long conversation that has been debated for a long time. What is better? Book or movie? In reality, there might not be a real answer and it definitely also depends on the book.

What are some of the things that lean people toward one or the other?

  1. Action/Intensity

Books like Lord of the Rings have been fan favourites for a long time and long before the movies were made. However, how many of you have actually read one of those books and seen the movie? If you had to include every single step in Fellowship of the Ring, you would be watching an extremely long movie. The difference between those books and those movies is simply that the movie is faster in pace. I’m not saying you can’t love a long book, but it’s much cooler to see Frodo and Sam walking through Middle Earth than it is to read about it.

2. Seeing characters in action

It’s one thing to read a book and have that little movie playing in your head. But actually seeing that movie on the big screen with sometimes exactly what you pictured can feel like a miracle. I remember when I first heard that they were making The Hunger Games into movies, I was so excited to finally be able to see the characters I had read about coming to life.

3. Details

Any Harry Potter lover wouldn’t be able to watch the first movie without pointing the missing plot points from the books. Since most people tend to watch the books first, it’s hard to know exactly what comes between point A and point B, but it’s another thing entirely when they skip point B and move on to point C without a problem. Fans love making sure that everything is going exactly as it should and taking away those key elements can be heartbreaking to a book lover.

There are literally dozens of reasons for people to pick one over the other and, most of the time, it’s entirely circumstantial.

What are some of the reasons you pick which one you like better?

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Book Writing #5: Genre Basics #1

Genre is one of the most important basic fundamentals to writing and finding that perfect genre to describe your book is one of the best marketing tools at an author’s fingertips. Here are some of the bigger genres to help with a basic understanding!

Middle Grade – Written for children generally in middle school in a bildungsroman style (coming of age) (i.e. Percy Jackson and the Olympians)

Young Adult – Written for a high school audience that usually have the main character overcoming a flaw or event that was pivotal in their life (i.e. Six of Crows)

New Adult – Fills the void between adult and young adult. Generally for older high school age children and college age people and contain more explicit content than young adult.

Adult – For adults and written in a more aggressive style. Leaves less to the imagination and it’s afraid to put explicit content and gore.

Sci-Fi – Commonly set in the future of Earth or some other planet with advanced technology or modern day Earth also with advanced technology or any new technology that seems possible but far from what we are currently capable of. Many sci-fi books include space in some form or another. Often paired with fantasy (i.e. Ender’s Game and Dark Matter)

Fantasy – Set in a completely fictional world made up by the author and is likely to include fictional intelligent species sometimes with their own language. These worlds often use medieval style living and technology (sword, bow and arrows). Often paired with sci-fi (i.e. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones)

Mystery – Commonly set in a detective format where the main character is trying to solve some kind of problem that has alluded them for a time

Paranormal – Put simply, vampires and werewolves, but can include most creatures that are considered “paranormal”. Angels and sirens can fall into this category. Usually, there is a looming, dark, magic presence that is after the main character. Often paired with romance

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Book Writing #4 – Character Names and Personality

For some people, the names of characters can be the hardest part of the writing process. After all, names for main characters are going to stick with them through the whole novel. For some readers, the main character’s name can be a make or break point. Personally, if I run into a book with a name that I can’t even begin to start pronouncing, I usually don’t pick the book up. Names can make up a pretty solid portion of word count, so think of your readers when you type those names up, sci-fi/fantasy writers!

For me, I have a system with how to pick my character names. Just a fair warning, I generally write fantasy, so my process might be different for you!

  1. Go to some kind of name generator. If applicable, click the descriptors that fit what your character represents (ex. Irish, Elvish, Biblical) and just keep hitting that generate button like crazy
  2. Slowly compile a list of names that stick out to you as you go.
  3. Usually if I find two names I particularly like, I cut the best parts of them and mash them together to make the perfect name. But sometimes I end up finding the perfect name!
  4. Repeat for any additional names (middle, last) and other characters of importance.

I also come up with names by just picking bits of names or letters that I like and throwing them around until I find a name. Not gonna lie, some of my character names even start off as a joke and then they end up sticking!

Personalities can sometimes be easier, so I won’t bother going into as much detail about these. However, I recently got some advice that I had been doing anyway, so apparently not everyone does it this way!

Take personality tests in the mindset of your character.

Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, the Sorting Hat, anything. It’ll help you when you come at a crossroads and wonder “would this character really do XYZ?”

Building the perfect character can be hard, but with enough work you can make the best character for your next novel and feel happy about the outcome!

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Beware the Temptation of Social Media Schedulers

Social media is hard. Let’s just be straight up about it. You have to take the time to set up all these different accounts all while trying to get matching handles so that people can find you. When you do that, you actually have to post content and interact with people to gain followers. Who has time to do all of that?

Clearly this is a problem that has been bothering people for a while. Some people just drop some of their social media accounts by disabling their account and just sticking with one main platform while others try to push through and juggle all of their social media. Sometimes people just decide to drop social media altogether.

To help combat some of this, social media schedulers have started becoming more and more prominent. Some of the more popular ones are Hootsuite, Later, and Buffer, but there are dozens of them floating around the internet. These scheduling sites make like so much easier. All you have to do is make your one post and blast it onto all your social media accounts.

But here is why you should take more care with these social media schedulers

  1. Each social media platform is different. If you aren’t aware of my recent post detailing how to write for some of the platforms, I recommend giving it a look.
  2. These sites make you forget the real point of social media. Social media is all about interacting with your followers and if you just do all of your work through these sites, it’s easy to forget to check your platforms. If you decide to use one of these, make sure you’re checking all of your interaction from followers and don’t be afraid to follow some people, throw around some likes, and reblog things from your friends. Social media is a gateway to companionship and interaction.
  3. Money. Call me crazy, but I think that a service like this isn’t really worth spending money on. Sure, these websites all have free versions of their services, but many of them are just gateways to making you pay in the future.

In the end, it’s much easier to make a schedule in a Word doc or a spreadsheet and set alarms on your phone if you need to schedule out your content. Some of the best content is what is made on a whim, so don’t be afraid to break those boundaries and just post something because you want to, not because your schedule says you should.

If you choose to use one of these sites, the biggest recommendation I can give is to make each of your posts specific to the platform you’re posting on. Changing your content to fit the platform will not only boost your interaction with your followers, it will give people the feeling that you actually take care in what you’re posting. After all, quality is better than quantity.

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WriterFest Nashville 2019 Reflection

This past weekend, I got to spend the weekend at WriterFest Nashville. WriterFest is an event made for writers of all kinds (book, movie, and song). There are 3 main keynote speakers and then several other panels were made to further develop writing, relationships, and marketing.

I could talk about the social media and marketing aspects of the event, but none of that really stuck with me. Of course, it was necessary information and useful. The part of my time at WriterFest, however, was the keynote speaker Kel Kade. Over the summer, I received an ARC of her first traditionally published book, Fate of the Fallen. So, when I heard she was going to be at WriterFest, I would intrigued by her name.

I’ll admit, I did a little fangirling and got a picture with her and asked her to sign my copy of her book.

Her conversation was different from other events I had been to with author talks. She talked about her life before publishing her first novel, barely able to pay rent. On a whim, she published an unedited book on Amazon with a cover she made herself and thought nothing of it, convinced that only a handful of people would read it. However, after the first month, her book had made over $32,000 and it continued to increase month after month. This spiraled to eventually get her a deal with Tor, a high fantasy publisher, and a deal for audio books. One of the questions asked by the audience was if she would be interested in a movie to which she responded in a very unexpected way. She said that if she was to get a movie done, it would have to be done the right way. And I think that’s the way everyone should be thinking in regards to screen adaptations.

Overall, WriterFest was a good experience and I’m thrilled I got to enjoy it along with so many amazing writers! I truly hope I get the opportunity to go again next year.

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Hands Up by Stephen Clark – Spotlight

About the Book

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

About the Author – Stephen Clark

Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of nonprofit services. He also won a Society of Professional Journalists Award for Investigative Reporting at the Stamford Advocate for his series exposing an elderly grifter’s charity organization. Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

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