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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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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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Publishing 101 #3 – Social Media Fundamentals

One of the hardest things for authors and pretty much anyone trying to build a brand and a name for themselves is trying to build a social media following that can let you spread your products or even just your name. For this blog post, I decided to give some fundamental information about the core social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) and how to use them effectively.

Twitter

If you are in the book industry, Twitter is an absolute must. Tons of bloggers and industry professionals are on Twitter and, believe it or not, a lot of announcements are made on Twitter. It’s where most people post about their cover reveals, book deals, film options, and their cast announcements. A lot of people don’t really seem to know how to use Twitter and I’ve heard of a lot of authors that just feel like they shouldn’t have to be on Twitter or feel like it won’t be beneficial. I highly recommend you give it a shot. Here are some tips and tricks to be spotted on Twitter:

  • Keep it personal – if you’re active in politics, activism, or just like sharing your opinion, that is generally what people are looking for when they go onto Twitter.
  • Be concise – it might be tempting to make a thread of 10+ tweets to get your thoughts across, but most people won’t read past the first thought.
  • Be visual – images draw in the eye of a reader, but emojis work just as well for this. Likewise, if you keep your tweet short, you might attract attention.
  • Cool it with the hashtags – I try to keep my Twitter posts with a max of 5 hashtags and they are always at the bottom of my post. DO NOT put hashtags in what you’re trying to say.  Not only is it cluttered, hashtags are in different colors and are distracting, which ultimately takes away from your message. Example: The #book I’m #currentlyreading is a #fantasy novel that talks about #LGBT values and #friendship.
  • Interact – Ask questions, retweet your friends, and be a part of the dialogue.

Instagram

  • Images can make or break – the whole point of Instagram is to give your followers amazing photos that they can quickly scroll through and like, so having a really good eye for pictures is the only sure fire way to make your mark on IG.
  • Don’t give your life story in your caption – as stated above, people want to scroll through quickly, so they might take the time to read a sentence or two in your caption, but don’t write paragraphs. To write a meaningful caption, you have to get their attention with your images first.
  • Be consistent – try to keep your IG to a theme. Maybe you have all your photos in black and white, maybe they have a blue tint or an orange tint, maybe you have one item that is in each photo. This helps people recognize your posts as something unique to you in particular. You don’t necessarily have to stick to this forever, but don’t change your theme every month.
  • Hashtags are a must – whenever I post, I have a long list of hashtags that I automatically have at the ready so that I can simply copy and paste them into my post. You can put your relevant hashtags at the bottom of your caption or simply leave them in a comment. 
  • Utilize IG stories – this isn’t 100% necessary, but every once in a while it’s good to put things in your story. Events you go to, books you read, adventures you go on. Add those to your story and make them accessible to your followers so they can feel connected to you.

Facebook

  • Long captions – this is your chance to write those paragraphs! Tell your long stories or do a Q&A! Facebook is pretty much the only social media platform you should be writing a lot. 
  • Older audience – Facebook is predominantly a platform for an older audience (30-40+). That doesn’t mean there aren’t younger people as well. 
  • Links and images – share all the images and links you want! People want things to click on, so don’t be afraid to share your stuff. But if you aren’t much of an image person, at least try to use some emojis.
  • Pages versus profiles – keep your friends list to your closest friends and family members and make yourself an author page or a brand page to keep all those that like your work separate from your personal stuff. 
  • Hashtags are a no – don’t bother with hashtags. No one really uses them on Facebook and, in the end, they just end up making you look more out of the loop.

Other Tips and Tricks

  • Scheduling apps and sites – these might be tempting to use, but make sure you’re still following the rules for each platform. Producing one post and spreading it to all your socials isn’t the best way to spread your content and makes you look like a lazy user.
  • Acknowledge that each platform matters – they each provide something different and while certain ones work better for different people, it’s important to at least know about the other ones.
  • There are many other platforms – these are just the main three, but there are several platforms I didn’t mention in this post. Some of them include: TikTok, Snapchat, Tumblr, and LinkedIn, but there are so many more!
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Nobody Cares About Your Book, Dude by Karl Sauvé – Guest Post

About Seven Minutes in Heaven

WELCOME TO HALO TRAVELS, PARADISE ON A BUDGET

When a simple procedure allows anyone who can afford it the chance to visit a part of Heaven, it quickly becomes the number one tourist attraction. Despite the overabundance of selfie-obsessed tourists, Karen Benson is enjoying her much-needed vacation away from her stagnant life and tragic past. But when an accident leaves Karen literally stranded in Hell, both sides scramble to deal with–or capitalize on–the situation as a conspiracy of biblical proportions begins to reveal itself. Now, Karen will have to confront monsters, biker gangs, sweater-wearing cultists, and demonic squirrels as she makes a desperate run for the border!

Guest Post – Nobody Cares About Your Book, Dude

You’re writing your first novel, and maybe it’s not going great right now. It started out fun, and you were full of energy, but now, you’re starting to wonder if all the time and effort is worth it. Maybe you should stop. Is it even any good? No one really knows about it, anyway, right? You’re an unknown. It’s not like people are waiting for it to come out like it’s the next Game of Throne’s book or anything. Nobody cares about your book, dude.

That might be an example of that voice that keeps you from finishing your novel. And even after you’ve self-published, it might be a recurring theme. 

My girlfriend asked me once, while I was writing my novel: “What does success mean to you?” After thinking about it, I decided that success to me, at that point, simply meant finishing the gargantuan task of writing the darn thing—of putting my novel out into the world.  After all, why did I decide to start working on the book? When I’m not writing, I work as a freelance video editor and co-director—mostly on documentaries and reality shows, so I’m no stranger to shaping stories. But they were usually limited to the footage I had to work with, the budget, and a million other restrictions. With books, I felt like I could let my imagination run a bit freer. That was the dream.

Speaking of dreams, I think it’s important to have them, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream of becoming a successful writer right from the start. And I still do. That would be success with a capital S. Real success. But I realized that couldn’t be my measure of success at that point because that’s the dream, not the goal. Everyone has dreams: your book becomes a bestseller, you become rich and famous, and you buy a lion.

Goals are different. My dreams are always there, but I try to keep my goals way more attainable. “My goal is to write five good pages today.” “My goal for the month is to get to a hundred pages.” “My goal is to finish my darn book!” —That keeps pushing you along, one page at a time. It keeps you going long after the spark of that fresh new concept, that rush of “What a great idea for a story,” has begun to fade, and the doubts have started creeping in.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I had the idea for Seven Minutes in Heaven. In my mind, it was when I was traveling down south. Those beautiful sandy beaches. Heaven on Earth. Paradise. Then, you venture outside of the touristic center and see the locals living their normal lives—and they’re not living in swanky hotels and gorging at all-you-can-eat buffets…

That was the spark—that weird thing about tourism and resorts where we show up someplace that looks amazing and take over. We build-up hotels and take selfies while the locals are just trying to get to work. For us, it’s party central, but for them, it’s Monday.

So, that was the basic, simple idea: What if we could visit Heaven? You know we’d turn it into a resort.

And that was funny to me.

I started writing the story years later.

Another element of the story, I think, can be traced back to a different trip. After a hard breakup, I decided to take a trip to Europe. I was going to leave my life and sadness behind for a while and travel a bit. There’s nothing more freeing than going to a different country and surrounding yourself with people that don’t know you… And I did have fun, but I was still sad. No matter where you go, your baggage (insert easy pun here) goes with you. And that element, in a way, wound up in my story: My main character, Karen, wishes to leave her life behind for a while, but she’s forced to confront her demons (and actual demons) when she literally gets stranded in Hell. 

You never know in what way elements of your life will start connecting with your imagination once you sit down, brainstorm, and write—be conscious or not. Any life experience can somehow find its way into your story. As they say, “Write about what you know,” and sometimes, we don’t realize how much we know.

And so, years after getting that first nugget of the plot for Seven Minutes in Heaven, I finally decided that this was going to be it. I was going to hunker down and write my novel finally. If you want to write, stop putting it off. There’s no perfect time to begin writing a novel.

Shameless Plugs

My debut novel is out now, Seven Minutes in Heaven.

Follow me on Facebook at: @karlsauveauthor

Available soon, Pornstar Assassin #1, the first in what I’m hoping will be a series of pulpy action/comedy novellas set in the Seventies.

Hopefully, by the time this guest post gets uploaded on the interwebs, my upcoming podcast, Bishop’s Files—a dark comedy about a depressed, small-town journalist-slash- serial killer who’s sick of other people taking credit for his murders—will be out as well.

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Explaining My Major – No, it isn’t Journalism

For those of you that don’t know, I’m currently going into my sophomore year of college as a publishing major at Belmont University. One of the hardest parts of being a publishing major is that people don’t really know what that means. This initially came as a shock to me, because it feels pretty self explanatory, but I have been proven wrong dozens of times. In the year that I’ve been at college and the accompanying months before I left for college, I have gotten some of the following statements:

  • “Oh good, we need good journalists to really get the truth out there!”
  • “Like music publishing?”
  • “You write books?”
  • “Editing is really technical, I’m impressed!”

And so many others. Part of the reason I’m writing this is so that I can send this blog post to those people so that they can read and understand. So if you’re reading this because I sent you a link, I’m not mad, I just need to show you how wrong you really are and didn’t know how to say it to your face. So, I’m going to say one major statement and then the following information will just be a build on that.

Publishing means the industry of publishing aka the process of bringing the book from the writer into the hands of the readers

What does that even mean? Essentially my major (which if you haven’t caught on yet is publishing) is broken up into two pathways. The first pathway is the Editorial Track. People that take this path usually become editors and like the nitty-gritty parts of writing. These people take editing courses that give them the skills to edit like professionals. This is taking the book from the first copy the author sends and edits them, pointing out mistakes, until it becomes a final edition to be printed.

The second pathway, which is my pathway, is the Marketing and Publicity Track. I take the finished book and I make calls to magazines, book stores, TV shows, and everything I can think of to help advertise and get people to notice the book. I interact with the authors, learn their strong points and what they can talk about and use that information to make press releases to make buzz about the book. This includes contacting bloggers and industry professionals to see if they want to do early reviews or interviews with the author. For this, I have to take marketing classes and media relations classes to understand the relationship between the goods I’m producing and the best way to make the readers hear about it.

Along with my publishing degree, I tagged on a Public Relations minor to help me interact with the media. 

If none of this made sense, just look at the big bold sentence and that’s all you really need to know. If you have any questions or you just want to chat about my classes or experience, I would love to talk to you about it! Being a publishing major has showed me just how little people really know about the industry and has opened my eyes to a whole new world stuck between the pages.

 

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How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman Blog Tour – Author Interview

About the Book

Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents have become.

When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.

But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?

Interview

What authors/books inspired your writing?

Judy Blume, first and foremost. I’ve been reading (and loving!) her books since I was around eight. Also, The Baby-Sitters Club books, and the Sweet Valley High books; I devoured those series growing up. And, now, many of the current contemporary YA greats: Gayle Forman, Jessi Kirby, Miranda Kenneally, Stephanie Perkins, Jandy Nelson, Jenny Han, Sara Zarr, Lisa Schroeder, Katie Cotugno, Robin Benway, Emery Lord, Sarah Dessen, and Morgan Matson.

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

I have a lovely desk that I never use. I like coffee shops okay for chatting with friends, but they’re too distracting for writing. Our local library is too cold. I wish I could write outside, but the sun creates a glare on my laptop’s screen – ha! I’m such a homebody. Ideally, I like to write on my couch or in my bed. I like it to be very quiet. I like to be warm, wearing cozy clothes. I like to have a candle burning, and a hot beverage nearby. Under those conditions, I do my best work. 

Do you have any writing exercises or habits?

When I’m drafting, I always start by reading and editing what I wrote the day before. That lets me reacclimate to the story, while limiting the time I spend going backward instead of forward. I’m also a die-hard Scrivener user. It has so many amazing outlining, drafting, and organizational features; I can’t imagine going back to Word.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

When I have writer’s block, it’s almost always because I’ve made a misstep somewhere earlier in the process. When the words just won’t come, I give myself a break. I take a walk or pull weeds or play with my girls, all the while letting the story stew in the back of my mind. Some distance, not forcing it, usually allows me the space to see where I’ve gone wrong. Once I’ve identified the problem I backtrack and fix it, and then I’m free to move forward.

Do you have a special connection to any of your characters?

I have a connection with all of my main characters (Jillian from Kissing Max Holden, Elise from The Impossibility of Us, and Callie from How the Light Gets In). To write from their first-person perspective, I’ve had to learn them inside and out. I’ve given them each one of my own character traits: I share Jillian’s fierce sense of loyalty, Elise’s desire to find the best in everyone, and Callie’s empathic nature. All three are rather stubborn, so we have that in common, too. I’ve also found that sharing a common interest with my protagonists—Jillian loves to bake, Elise loves photography, and Callie loves to swim—helps me connect with them all the more.

What does literary success mean to you?

For me, literary success comes in two parts. First, I hope to find joy in the project I’m drafting/editing/promoting. Not all the time—there are always frustrating and disenchanting moments in writing and publishing—but most of the time. Second, I hope my books will make readers feel. I hope they’ll become so invested in my stories that their emotions mirror my characters’ emotions. I think that’s the most exciting part of reading.

What can we hope to see from you in the future?

It’s kind of a mystery at the moment. I have a couple of projects brewing, both contemporary YA romances that have me inspired and excited. I can’t imagine writing anything other than contemporary YA romance, so I hope to be able to publish more books that are similar to Kissing Max Holden, The Impossibility of Us, and How the Light Gets In. Also, one of my favorite writer friends and I are in the earliest stages of planning something collaborative, which has been so much fun so far!

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Read as much as you can, both in the category/genre you write, and widely. Pay attention to your strong reactions, both positive and negative. Identify what the author did to invoke that reaction in you. Was it a fantastic twist? A super satisfying character arch? A line of beautiful dialogue? Studying and absorbing the practiced, polished writing in published books will do wonders for your own writing. 

About the Author – Katy Upperman

KatyKaty Upperman is a wife, mama, author, reader, baker, and wanderer. She writes novels for teens and teens at heart. She’s a Washington State University alum (go Cougs!), a country music fanatic, and a makeup stockpiler. She loves the ocean, pedicures, sunshine, Instagram, Dirty Dancing and The Princess Bride, Jelly Bellies, true crime documentaries, and Friday Night Lights.

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Just My Luck by Jennifer Honeybourn Blog Tour – Author Interview

About the Book

Marty has terrible luck and she knows exactly why. While working as a housekeeper at the ritzy Grand Palms hotel in Maui, Marty made it a habit to steal small items from the guests. What better way to stick it to the rich snobs they have to clean up after? Marty knows how to turn her luck around — she just has to return all of the items she stole.

When Marty meets Will, a new guest who is staying for the summer, she does the one thing she always promised herself she’d never do — fall for an out-of-towner. But Will’s special, different from the other guests at the hotel. Maybe Marty’s luck is finally turning around.

After a string of misunderstandings and accidents threaten Will and Marty’s relationship, Marty has to find a way to fix her luck for good — or say goodbye to Will forever.

Interview

What authors/books inspired your writing?

So many authors have inspired me — and continue to inspire me: Susin Nielson, Stephanie Perkins, Sandy Hall, Becky Albertalli, Emma Mills, Jenn Bennett, Lily Anderson, Rebecca Stead…just to name a few.

Did you always know you wanted to write Young Adult? Do you see yourself writing New Adult or Adult sometime?

I’ve always loved young adult books, so it felt like a natural fit for me when I started writing seriously about ten years ago. Over the past year, I’ve branched into middle grade and I’m really having a lot of fun writing those stories and hope to see them on the shelves one day. I do have an adult book that’s been kicking around in my head for ages that I plan to tackle someday.

Do you have any writing exercises or habits?

Writing is now my job, so I’m at my desk around nine in the morning on weekdays and I work until about three, unless I’m on a deadline, then I’ll sometimes work evenings and weekends, too.  I used to write in coffee shops before I had a home office.  

How do you deal with writer’s block?

If I’m feeling blocked, it usually means that I’m going in the wrong direction with a scene. I’ll take a short break and let my mind work out the problem, then I’ll take on the scene from a different angle. That usually works. I’ve also used the pomodoro method — just writing whatever for 25 minutes, see what comes out — and that has helped, too.

Do you have a special connection to any of your characters?

I love all my characters, but I have to say Wesley from WESLEY JAMES RUINED MY LIFE holds a special place in my heart. I love his optimism and sense of humor. I also love writing Shelby, my main character in WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU DEMONS.

What is your ideal spot for a summer vacation?

I love to travel and I love to go to different places. This year, we’re heading down the east coast, so I’m looking forward to exploring Washington, DC and Charleston, South Carolina. But in terms of destinations I’ve already been to, I’d have to pick Maui. I love Hawaii, it’s one of my favorite places in the world, which is why I set JUST MY LUCK there.     

What can we hope to see from you in the future?

I’ve written a few middle grade novels that I’m pretty excited about, so hopefully those will be published someday soon.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep writing! WESLEY JAMES RUINED MY LIFE, my debut novel, wasn’t published until I was forty. I truly believe talent is only part of it — the rest is hard work and perseverance, learning as much as you can about your craft, reading as much as you can in all genres, and a little bit of luck.

About the Author – Jennifer Honeybourn

JenniferJennifer Honeybourn works in corporate communications in Vancouver, British Columbia. She’s a fan of British accents, Broadway musicals, and epic, happily-ever-after love stories. If she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, she’d have high tea with Walt Disney, JK Rowling, and her nana. She lives with her husband, daughter and cat in a house filled with books. Wesley James Ruined My Life is her first novel.

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Within Ash and Stardust by Chani Lynn Feener Blog Tour – Author Interview

About the Book

Having gone from kidnapped faux princess to the legitimate heir to an intergalactic throne, an impulsive, sarcastic teen must take charge of her own destiny in this epic YA novel.

On Earth, Delaney is a normal teenager who recently graduated high school with a fantastic best friend and a loving boyfriend.

But Delaney isn’t on Earth. She’s on Xenith, a war-torn planet half a galaxy away. Originally mistaken for an alien princess, Delaney has gone from kidnapped imposter to the recognized heir to an alien throne. Oh, and she’s engaged to the prince of an enemy nation whose ruthless father is on the warpath.

Torn between two planets, two fates, and two loves, Delaney is finally ready to choose her own destiny in Within Ash and Stardust, the stunning conclusion to Chani Lynn Feener’s Xenith Trilogy.



Praise for the Xenith Trilogy:
“A thoughtful, sexy adventure with winning characters just begging for a bedtime read.” —VOYA on Amid Stars and Darkness

“Feener’s world-building is excellent, and readers will feel engulfed in the culture, politics, and technology. The romance between Delaney and Ruckus develops slowly and satisfyingly. Give to fans of Melissa Landers’s Alienated and Ally Condie’s Matched.” —School Library Journal on Amid Stars and Darkness

“This debut makes for fun, fluffy reading.” —Booklist on Amid Stars and Darkness

“[A] pulse-pounding adventure.” —Booklist on Between Frost and Fury

Interview

What authors and/or books inspired your writing?

There are a lot of authors who inspire me, and keep me interested in writing. Whenever I read a good book I feel excited about the whole process and immediately want to go write something, so really I’d say most authors make that list. A few of my favorites, that are always instant buys for me, are Maggie Stiefvater and Marissa Marr.

What is your ideal writing setting (at a desk, outside, with tea/coffee, etc)?

I like to work at my desk with coffee. Always coffee. My desk is set up so that everything I might need last minute is in reaching distance—highlighters, extra pens, notebooks filled with notes on past projects, etc.—and I collaged the walls with pictures and stuff that I like and inspires me, so it’s the best place for me to work. When I’m surrounded by things I enjoy, it’s easier for me to focus. I also get easily distracted elsewhere; like if I tried working in the school library or the local coffee shop, I’d get so distracted by all of the people and people watching.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I have two methods. The first is to take a break and let my mind wander to something else. A lot of the time this helps. Getting burned out happens to everyone, so it’s good to give yourself a break and try not to overthink it for a time. Typically I’ll watch a movie or a TV show, or maybe draw or listen to music. If it’s really bad, I’ll plan a trip to the bookstore or the aquarium to refresh and hopefully gain new inspiration. If this doesn’t work, I’ll switch to method two, which is attempting to power through it. Sometimes forcing myself to just sit and write despite not feeling inspired eventually leads to good material. I’ll almost always need to delete and rewrite the first few pages I get out, but eventually those bad pages lead to better writing and before I realize I’ve got my flow back.

Do you have a special connection to any of your characters?

Weirdly, I think I have a special connection with Gibus. I just…really love him? He’s always come off a bit “mad scientist” in my mind, quirky and over the top, and sometimes really annoying to have conversations with (I imagine). He’s also really loyal, and overly curious, and I’ve always loved how he lives in that gray area. I mean, he is part of the reason Delaney was in this mess in the first place—what kind of inventor doesn’t keep track of his super dangerous inventions?!—and that was after he’d already been told to scrap the project entirely. I’d love to just write a book about Gibus being Gibus. I feel like that would be a ton of fun.

How did you feel when AMID STARS AND DARKNESS was picked up by Swoon Reads?

I’m not sure elated is a strong enough word, but that’s what comes to mind first. I remember getting the email to set up the phone meeting, and not wanting to get my hopes up for what that might mean. After the conversation I literally jumped around my room like a child—it would have been super embarrassing if anyone else was home at the time. It’s a big deal, when someone comes to you and says “Hey, you know that dream you’ve had for most your life? It’s about to come true”. It was both surreal and exciting all at once.

Which book of the trilogy was the most difficult to write?

Probably the final book. There were just so many things I wanted to fit into it and wrap up, and it was difficult to do that and still keep a balance with everything. There were also a lot of major plot changes that took place between the first and final drafts, so the book was constantly morphing into something else as we worked through it—which isn’t a bad thing, it just took a lot of time. I enjoyed writing it a lot, and really like how it all ended up, but it definitely was the most difficult out of the entire trilogy.

What can we hope to see from you in the future?

So far, I have another trilogy releasing in October, this one about Unseelie Faeries. I’m still writing a lot and trying to put other projects out there, so hopefully in the years to come you’ll be seeing more of me!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

To stick with it and write. It’s really easy to put off writing because life gets busy and you’re not sure if it’ll go anywhere anyway, but don’t focus on that. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Even if the final project isn’t what you hoped for, writing a book is a big accomplishment, and if that’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you should.

 

About the Author – Chani Lynn Feener

ChaniChani Lynn Feener has wanted to be a writer since the age of ten during fifth grade story time. She majored in Creative Writing at Johnson State College in Vermont, and graduated in 2012. To pay her bills, she has worked many odd jobs, including, but not limited to, telemarketing, order picking in a warehouse, and filling ink cartridges. When she isn’t writing, she’s binging TV shows, drawing, or frequenting zoos/aquariums. Chani is also the author of teen paranormal series, the Underworld Saga, originally written under the penname Tempest C. Avery. She currently resides in Connecticut, but lives on Goodreads.com.

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