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Author Spotlight

Talk About It Tuesday- Terry Maggert

 

Terry Maggert has three series, Halfway Witchy, Heartborn, The Fearless. 

Left-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I’ve had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of– well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You’ve been warned.

 

He shared two pieces from his current work in progress, Moonborn:

 

Livvy Foster has a new heart, home, and a place in the powerful halls of House Windhook. The fall of Sliver was only the beginning of a civil war that sees angels from across the sky challenge each other to lead a world in which the past and the future are connected by a storm crafted from time, ambition, and power.

When House Selinus attempts to bend the light of days in order to become the supreme power in an apocalyptic future, they confront a goddess who is older than time itself– and she’ll stop at nothing to get the one soul who escaped her deadly grasp: Livvy.

With deceit, war and love swirling in the clouds above a shattered world that was once Livvy’s home, she’ll be asked to do something a girl with a broken heart never thought possible.
Fight for Windhook. Fight for her world.
Take wing with Livvy, one heartbeat at a time.

Excerpt:

Chapter Four: Answers

Breakfast consisted of berries so sour that Livvy almost choked.

“They’re an acquired taste,” Saiinov said through a smile. He was in high spirits since all of his children would be filtering in and out as the day wore on. Habira, Prista, and the twins, Banu and Vesta were busy doing the quiet work that House Windhook needed to position itself as a regional power. There was a vacuum opening across the greater skies, and Windhook would be ready to fill it. When she pressed him for details, Livvy was met by a shrug.

“Am I a member of this family?” Her question brought Saiinov up short. Seated around the table, Vasa, Cressa, and Garrick watched the interplay between Livvy and the man who would now assume a role not unlike that of her father. After a long moment, he simply nodded. “Then tell me what’s going on.” There was no negotiation, or pleading. She stated her needs, and sat back, hands folded in her lap like a judge waiting to hear the story of an accused criminal.

“She needs to know, even if the context isn’t clear.” Vasa sipped something from a tall glass and inclined her head toward Saiinov. The tiny signal was only possible after years of marriage; like many couples, they had visual code that spoke more clearly than any words ever could.

He wiped his mouth with care, stalling for time. When he spoke, it was with the voice of a teacher. “Contrary to my hopes, Sliver didn’t fall through the clouds. It still exists, and it will remain a center of power, but reduced. We aim to gather allies and tools to make certain there is no rebirth of the Crescent Council. Our children are eminently able, and we all know our roles. Even you have a part to play, and I hope you’re ready. I know we’re asking a great deal of you so soon after your surgery.” He looked askance at Vasa, who shrank for a moment, awash with the remembrance of Keiron.

Livvy’s fingers traced her scar, but not from shame. She felt too good to let regret rob her of the vitality that hummed in her body. “You still haven’t answered my question.”

Saiinov chuckled, shaking his head at her tenacity. “You’re right.” His sigh was long and shallow. “You’re more than a part of this family, Livvy. We gave something precious so that you might live, and now we’re going to ask you to give it all back. And more.” His eyes were hard.

“I figured this wasn’t a sightseeing trip.” She sounded resigned, but in control. The girl who left earth was gone, but vestiges of her practicality lingered on.

“That’s actually true. At least for the next three days or so. You’re going to learn a great deal in a short span of time, and Garrick is going to help you.” Saiinov’s tone matched his expression, and Livvy saw the light of command in his eyes.

“She’ll do more than that.” Vasa looked outward, where a shadow indicated someone wheeling in to land on the aerie. “But that must wait. Livvy, I’ll speak to you tonight. For now, I’ve left something for you in your room. You’re going to need proper equipment for tomorrow.”

“What am I learning?” Livvy burned with curiosity. Everything about her newfound life was a revelation that wavered between joy and fear.

Vasa’s smile was bland. “We’re going to teach you how to be an angel.”

 

Thanks, Terry!

Check out his website and all his books on Amazon

 

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Each Tuesday, I will feature a current WIP (work in progress). To qualify, like my Facebook page and post your WIP. I will randomly share the following week.

Let’s Chat with Eli Celata

How does your work as an anthropology doctoral student affect your writing?

Pursuing my doctorate means classes, work as a teaching assistant, and more. I generally read 1000+ pages a day about forensics, anthropological theory, and biomechanical principles, so there are times the vocabulary slips over. Otherwise, it’s just a question of time or lack thereof.

What is your field of study for your doctorate degree?

I’m studying biological anthropology with a focus in forensics. Really, it just means I work with bones.

On your website, you mention five resolutions for 2017. When you make resolutions do you create a step-by-step plan or just wing it? Why did you choose the five you chose?

I over-plan. For any resolutions I make, I have stages with steps to ensure I have measurable goals. Those chosen this year came from necessity in part. They were already in process, so it was follow through. Focusing, however, on them was a decision made out of frustration. I’d spent the last year focusing on my degree despite my debut publication, so I had left the promo side a bit late.

Is writing always something you wanted to do?

Yes. I grew up with stories. All my siblings write one way or another.

What is your normal writing routine?

I schedule out my writing. When I’m ready, I set on the correct playlist and write. Outside of music, I don’t really have any particularities about my routine.

When you planned Warlock of Rochester did you plan on it being a series or was that an afterthought? If you planned it, how did that affect your overall outline?

I knew it would be a series due to the realization that a single novel wouldn’t be enough to get Jon from an excited, young college student / demon-hunting warlock to where he needed to go. Due to that, the end is clear as are a few of the stops along the way, but there’s some leeway in the middle.

Is it easier or harder to write YA novels and why?

For me, the story decides, so it’s not a difficulty unless I try to force a novel to be what it isn’t.

What is your greatest strength as a writer and what is your greatest weakness as a writer?

I can finish a story like nobody’s business, but I am horrible at editing. Luckily, I have beta readers who are willing to guide me in the right direction there.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Definitely a plotter. My notes and subnotes are ridiculous.

Advice for new authors?

Be prepared to work. Writing the book is the easiest part.

Halfway Bitten: Halfway Witchy, Book 2 by Terry Maggert narrated by ErinSpencer

** I received a free audio copy of this book in exchange for a review, but I liked it so much, I bought the ebook edition. This post has an affiliate link**

I have fan-girled for this series~~BAD. The main character is just so damn spunky and snarky. For a young heroine, she seems sure of herself and her role in life. She does have slight issues, but it is refreshing to see a main character who accepts their faults and moves on- no whining.

This is book two from the Halfway Witchy series. It continues the story of Carlie and her grandmother working to keep everyone in Halfway safe from the things that go bump in the night.

**spoiler**

You gotta love a book that opens with clowns. Happy or not, they always seem to be creepy in one way or another.

I will say the ending made me sad, but it made for a great plot twist in book three. If you’d like to see my post of book one, find it here, and my review for book three will be coming at the end of the month.

Erin Spencer narrated this book again. She does a fantastic job. In fact, I declare she will forever be Carlie and the author can never use anyone else!

The circus came to Halfway, and they brought the weird. When clowns, vampires, and corpses start piling up in town, Carlie has to break away from her boyfriend, Wulfric, to bring her witchy skills to the table- or grill, as the case may be. When the body of a young woman washes up in the lake, it unleashes a spiral of mystery that will bring Carlie, Gran, and Wulfric into a storm of magical warfare. Spells will fly. Curses will rain. Amidst it all, Carlie will make waffles, protect her town, and find out if a man from the distant past can join her in happy ever after. With love and honor at stake, Carlie has no peer.

Audible/ Amazon

I also got to interview the author again.

Tell us a little about the bar you owned. Did you get some of the ideas for your books while working there? It was a pub with live music, but more importantly, it was my introduction to a couple critical items:

Lifetime friends.

Bluegrass music.

Beyond that, any bar atmosphere is a fountain for writing. You see every kind of human, and a wild array of hilarity. Bars are a lot like the internet: if you can imagine it; it’s there. Or it will be shortly, just wait a moment. You want a pet squirrel on a customer’s shoulder? Coming right up. A demure church lady drops a massive sex toy from her purse while paying for a grilled cheese sandwich? No problem. We’ve got it all, baby.

You majored in history. What is your favorite time period?

Rather than say favorite, let’s say, “Time period that makes me thankful I live now.” That would be the fourteenth century. The entire fourteenth century. I’m not kidding when I say if time travel exists, we should make certain that era isn’t on the dial, so to speak. It’s surreal how bad life could be, and yet some of the most breathtaking art was created. That means humans are either incredibly dumb or resilient –or both. I’ll go with both, since I know myself, and I’ve found that those are two of the requirements for being a writer. Well, those and caffeine.

What other ways do you showcase your creativity?

I don’t. I’ve been asked not to sing in public, and while I’m an enthusiastic dancer, I’ve never been accused of being graceful. I’m also responsible (while I was a teenager) for some truly dreadful poetry. I apologize for all of it.

Food is an important component in your Halfway Witchy series. You also mention being a pie lover. What’s your favorite pie and why is food/cooking important to you?

Ok, so our family restaurants were named Ted N’ Peg’s Pie Stand. You understand this is a love that’s genetic– also, it makes a lot of sense. Pie is a food group. Ergo, I cannot commit to one pie as a favorite because that verges on blasphemy. However, I will give a top ten in no order, which reflect what I’m most likely to eat, although all pie varieties are, to me, wonderful.

  1. Blueberry
  2. Chocolate
  3. Apple
  4. Strawberry Rhubarb
  5. Coconut Cream
  6. Pumpkin
  7. Cherry
  8. Mincemeat
  9. Sugar
  10. Sweet Potato

And, as far as the role of food– it’s both necessary and social. I had a restaurant, my family did, too; I’ve worked in them in every capacity. Food is culture, and culture makes characters real.

What’s the first thing you ever wrote that made you proud?

In direct contradiction to what I mentioned earlier, it was a poem. My ex-wife and I lost a kid, and I was a shallow human who didn’t know how to process that, at all. How could I feel such loss for someone I’d never met? I was a kid myself, it made no sense. I wrote a poem about it and it was the first honest thing I’d put to paper in my whole life. It’s here if anyone wants a look– warning, it’s not pretty, but it’s honest. Poem from 1998.

I think, looking back, that was when I knew I wanted to write. That’s the moment. In something ugly, I found something I loved.

What do you feel you need to work on as an author?

Slowing down. I just get too excited. I lean into my books, sort of the way I do life. I’d love to write a hundred, or even two hundred novels. I haven’t figured out how to avoid sleeping, but I’m working on it.

What is your writing routine?

I have none. I might write at 5 AM or, recently, in the car waiting to pick up my son from elementary school. I write in chunks (1000 words or more), but I’ve always got one gear in my brain thinking about books. I use this as an explanation for my terrible math grades in high school.

That must be it. Of course.

What writing tools (electronic, app, notebook, etc.) do you use the most?

Two: laptop and green notebook. I use the laptop to type the actual book, and the green notebook for odd ideas that flitter around. I’m left-handed, so being in a vague dream state at all times comes naturally to me. I overcome said dream state with coffee. Buckets of coffee.

What is the most frustrating part of the publishing world?

The most fatuous notion in the world is that someone else can tell you what you should enjoy reading. To those people, I say: Bye. You love what you love, and the traditional publishing world is collapsing as I type this. Good. They did it to themselves. They treat readers like children and authors like minions, and they’re not only losing, they’re in danger of becoming irrelevant.

I have a few rules in life, and they include:

  1. Don’t tell people how to raise their kids.
  2. Don’t tell people what they should read, listen to, or eat.
  3. If someone loves a book, thank them for reading.

10.  How does someone join your street team?

Right here, and thanks for coming on board! I love my team members– we see each other at events all over the country, and they’re like cool cousins who love books the same way I do. Street Team Super Secret Code

Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert

**I received an audio copy of this book in exchange for a review. This post contains an affliate link**

Let me start off by saying I freakin’ love this series, Halfway Witchy. I started listening to this via Audible while I walked my dog. I used it as motivation, ya know I would only listen to it when I walked.  That didn’t last long because the narrator talked slower than I could read. That is not to say the narration is bad, I just couldn’t wait to get to the end and my dog and I could only walk so many miles a day! So I bought it on Kindle. This is one of those series that I want to be selfish and tell the author he can do nothing else except write more of these books.

Carlie is just the kind of character I like. I think if she were a real person, we’d hang out over a beer, or waffles 🙂 She and her grandmother are witches given the assumed duty of taking care of the people in Halfway, NY. With the support of her big cat, her familiar, and her grandmother, she takes care of the evil things that go bump in the night. A ghost from a long-dead family member calls to her for salvation. Along the way she recruits a local librarian (the former librarian in me loves this btw.) and falls in love with a half vampire.

I don’t know if the author or Audible selected the narrator, Erin Spencer, but she was perfect. I could totally see her as Carlie. The narration is clear and very easy to understand. The various voices are distinct and appropriate for the characters.

I found this book through my connection with Jess at Audiobookworm. She is a lot of fun to work with and is always looking for more people to help her with her tours.

The author, Terry Maggert, agreed to an interview:

  1. When you plan your stories, do you plan them with the series in mind or do you treat each one as a standalone? I don’t really plan stories,
    I meet characters. Then, after we get to know each other, I see how much gas is in their tank, so to speak. Some locations have a lot to do with how long a story can last– Halfway is crawling with magic and characters, so it makes sense for me to stay there and play for a while.
  2. You do a good job getting inside the mind of your female character. Do you feel it is easier for you because you can be an outside observer or do you sometimes have struggle with that? I hear from a LOT of readers who say that my female characters seem real. I don’t know what that says about me as a person, but I know that Carlie McEwan is built to be real. She has flaws and strengths, and she struggles with her morality. In that sense, yeah– I’m Carlie, or she is me, though I’m a foot taller and would look ridiculous in her dresses (although I, too, would love to feel pretty someday, but I’m more of a ball gown kinda guy. I’m classy.)
  3. What is your past experience with Adirondacks? Why did you choose that place? My family is from the Adirondacks, and I’ve been in and out of the mountains since I was twelve. They’re magical. Not kidding. The park is more than five million acres, and you can have lunch while watching a moose. That’s a rare and beautiful thing in this world, and it was easy to see a supernatural world blooming in the place my family called home.
  4. When you write your stories are a planner or a pantser? If you are a planner how much do you plan? Oooo. . . well. I usually have a vivid dream or a daydream ( what writers call *working*) in which I see the entire arc of the story. I fill it in as I go, with little tidbits, dialogue, or points of interest. It’s like picking a country to visit and then backpacking your way through it. You know where you’re headed, you just don’t know what you’ll see on the way.
  5. Since you have more than one series, do you focus on one at a time or do you go back and forth? I can flip back and forth, and frankly enjoy doing so. I’m writing four books right now, and it’s a lot like clearing your palate in between courses of a fancy meal. I really like visiting characters after a week or two and finding something new can happen because I’m happy to be back.
  6. Which of your character is your favorite? I have four (Carlie, Saavin, Delphine, and Livvy), they’re all female, and they all enjoy both eating and fighting. I think I may have a little problem.
  7. How would you describe your books? I like justice. I write Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction and Horror, but in every book, the bad guys are *definitely* going to get it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
  8. If you could meet any author or book character who would it be and why? Author? Anne McCaffrey. She had more influence on me than every other writer combined, save Hemingway

Check out this book on Audible

The Truth Will Set You Free- guest post by Sherry Rentschler

sherry_rentschler__034and scare the hell out of you!

I just published my fictional memoir and it took me over 20 years to do it. Why? Because telling the truth is harder than it sounds when it comes to talking about yourself. I love to create fantasies, weave spells in poetry, and paint images with my photography. But telling the truth is hardest when it is all about yourself.

First, let me explain the difference between a fictional memoir and a regular memoir or an autobiography. When writing about a section of time, you write a memoir. When telling your entire life’s story, then that is an autobiography. When someone has a reason for telling only a piece of their life, that’s when you usually read a memoir. There have been folks who do one ever 10-20 years. Seems a bit much to me but to each their own. In my case, I had a few important lessons to share and that pushed me to write my story.


A fictional memoir isn’t fiction. The definition means is I’ve changed the names of the people and the locations, recreated dialogue that isn’t exact, and perhaps reordered some events to make sense of confusing situations. But the story is true as are the people and events. The historical nature is intact.

A regular memoir tells a story exactly, without alteration. I couldn’t do that for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was to protect some folks who might not want their truth told for them. So fiction is an added, necessary element to help recall special moments that drive the story.

Some people also call this genre autobiographical fiction but the two are actually separate. The autobiography employs more truth and in-depth storytelling techniques as in a regular novel. Also, typical autobio fictions are longer works than memoirs due to the length of the life involved.

With all that understood, the question returns, why write something that requires you to bare your soul with truth? Good question. Part of the reason is the truth I needed to tell. Lesson learned in my time seemed distant and unrepeatable. Until now. Now as I see my mistakes repeated by others, I felt the time was right for me to tell my story, to reveal my truth. Perhaps my revelations can help someone where I didn’t have the help when I needed it. That’s one reason.

Another reason is I’ve reached that age in life when I don’t care as much what people say about me or think about me. What matters now is the truth. To tell your truth is to find yourself among the internal muck and debris. When you sift through all that “stuff” you carry around and get right to the heart of your true self, you set yourself free. Free of all the debris like self-doubt, self-recriminations, self-censure, as well as guilt and blame, and the other dirty little secrets we lug around like unpaid, excess baggage.

Owning and releasing one’s truth is to say, “here I am with all my flaws. I own them. I am them. This is me.And you stop daring the world to criticize and point fingers at you because you stop caring if it does. You become more yourself than ever. That’s freedom.

Now I’m not necessarily advocating that everyone sit down at age 50, 60 or older and write a memoir. If you have a special story to tell, then tell it when you are ready. That’s key. When you are ready. Don’t be bullied or pressured into telling your tale until you feel its time. What I am advocating is whatever you write that is personal, use the medium to tell the truth. Let it live. This one action is empowering because you allow yourself to be your most complete self.

Some young people today say, “I am always myself. I always tell the truth.” In the decades to follow, I hope those confident youth can continue living those words. Skeptical me doubts because life has a way of pushing down truth for compromise, guilt, shame, or just plain necessity. Worse, we can convince ourselves that we are being honest when instead we couch or color our truths to make ourselves more “acceptable” to others (and haven’t we all done that at one time or another?).

But eventually, every truth will need a voice.

And so it was with me. I wrote, Breaking the Glass Slipper, because I had a special story to tell. How I spent my life searching for love and a promise of a fairy tale after disillusionment sent my life off course. My chosen path was filled with hard lessons and the memoir is my truthful testament of those events. As a result, I am free of my past and I have shared what I learned along the way. I hope I do some good with these memories and that is my reason for exposing myself and letting everyone see the real me.

Truth is frightening but empowering. Truth can also elevate a writer. Ernest Hemingway said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” You can’t do that unless you dare to write truth. To tell the truth is to expose what makes you vulnerable and afraid. What few realize is once you’ve revealed your secrets, there’s nothing left to fear.

And isn’t that the hardest part? To actually tell the truth. I finally did and it changed me. Is it scary out here? You betcha. But I’m glad I shed my chains and now I can fly. Because the only things that matter aren’t what others say or think but how I feel and how I choose to live with myself.


BreakingTheGlassSlipper-2That’s why I chose to write my memoir now. It was time to write about what hurt, to face the hard truths, and maybe to prevent others from making similar mistakes. Best of all, I owned who I was and who I am because of my past.

Writing about yourself is scary. Writing honestly about yourself is scarier. For me, it was the hardest writing I’ve ever done and the most empowering. The truth really did set me free.

Breaking the Glass Slipper is available on Amazon for pre-order. Buy yours today before the price goes up.

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Let’s Chat with Piper Milton

piper-miltonWHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR STORY

The idea to write Clementine and Claudia came from a dream I had about forbidden love set in the early part of the twentieth century. I awoke and was unable to get it out of my mind. The dream was short but it was  the magnetism, between the man and woman, who neither spoke or touched, which affected me.  One day I put pen to paper and never stopped. It was like reading a book I couldn’t put down. 

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF WRITING MORE HISTORICAL ROMANCE OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO WRITE IN OTHER GENRES                                                                         I am in the process of  putting the finishing touches to another historical romance, and have plans to write at least  one more, which  is already in the planning stage. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, it’s

I am in the process of  putting the finishing touches to another historical romance, and have plans to write at least  one more, which  is already in the planning stage. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, it’s fair to say historical fiction is my genre. 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART OF BRINGING THIS BOOK TO LIFE

The best part of bringing Clementine and Claudia to life was the creation of the characters. They became very real to me. I loved them all, despite their flaws and spending time with them was an utter joy. It was also a visual experience;  the  scenes  playing in my head like a movie screen. 

DO YOU HAVE A PLAN WHEN YOU START WRITING OR DO YOU JUST FOLLOW YOUR MUSE

Not a plan, more an idea from the dream of  a sensible man and woman falling madly in love  in an impossible  situation; an overwhelming love that causes them to act uncharacteristically. I found that as the  characters developed they more or less dictated the storyline. The setting greatly helped too for war brings out the best and the worst in people.   

WERE  YOU FAMILIAR WITH WW1 TIME PERIOD OR DID YOU HAVE TO DO MUCH RESEARCH. WHERE AND HOW DID YOU RESEARCH

I’ve always been drawn to WW1 and being a time of great social change, it seemed  the perfect backdrop for the story. Several members of my family were involved in it,  including my grandmother who  was a VAD and my  father-in-law whose  distinguished flying career I loosely based Piers upon. As for locations, I am blessed to  live in Dorset, a county in the south of England, and  being naturally familiar with landmarks and towns there was no contest when deciding the setting for the home scenes. France is but a short hop over the English Channel and I made a  couple of trips  to Etaples and Le Touquet to get the feel of the place. Apart from that, I read everything I could get my hands on about the war and the more I read, the more real  my characters  became. 

THERE WAS ONE CHARACTER I REALLY DISLIKED. DO YOU FEEL A PERSONAL CONNECTION TO YOUR CHARACTERS AND IS IT HARD TO WRITE ABOUT BAD STUFF HAPPENING TO THEM

I felt each one’s  pain and joy and I definitely shed a few tears at certain points. I don’t expect every character to be loved, but as their creator, they are all very close to my heart. There’s probably a little bit of me in them all. We are all one.  

WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR READERS TO WALK AWAY WITH AFTER READING THIS BOOK

I would like to feel I  managed to suspend the reader’s disbelief and allowed them to escape from their everyday lives for a while, as many books have for me, especially at difficult moments in my life. Also, to consider a moment the changes that have taken place in the last century and wonder how they would have coped living at such a time.  

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NEXT

My next book is another story of forbidden love, with far-reaching consequences. Unlike Clementine and Claudia, it starts shortly before the war and is set completely in England. The idea for it  developed after a friend told me a story about a member of her family which happened in WW1. I was intrigued and it also meant I was able to continue my research in areas that have become more of a fascination than just an interest.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR NEW WRITERS

Over the years I’ve read many authors’ advice to new writers. The two that stay in my mind are ‘don’t give up’ and ‘ write about things you know’. I would like to add, read aloud what you write. It’s always helped me and you’ll know immediately if it needs reworking. Your ear will tell you so. If you’ve someone whom you can read to, so much the better. I use my husband and he’s not shy about  telling me what he thinks, good or bad!  And, last but not least, do use adjectives sparingly.  As they say, less is more! 

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO FOLLOW YOU THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA

on twitter @pipermilton1 or my publisher, @silvertailbooks

Find this book at Amazon & Barnes & Noble

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Let’s Chat with Amy Saunders

  1. 41cbzufdysl-_ux250_What is your latest book about?

Marked is about a teen who’s learning to live with her emerging powers and some big revelations about her family that has permanently altered her life. On top of that, she’s dealing with some new threats that will play a role in the bigger story developing.

  1. Tell us a little about your two series; The Belinda & Bennet Mysteries and The Birthright Series

The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries is a lighthearted cozy mystery series revolving around the misadventures of amateur sleuth Belinda Kittridge and her boyfriend, Bennett Tate. The Birthright is a YA sci-fi series revolving around Rosamund Brandt and her developing powers and family’s secrets.

  1. Is it difficult to switch back and forth from writing cozy mysteries and the YA?

It can be challenging for a few reasons. But switching from an adult perspective to a teen perspective can be hard at times. Especially when it comes to independence. With Belinda, I can have her go and do whatever, whenever. With Rosamund, I have to get creative sometimes. I need her to take certain steps and do things on her own, but in real life, it probably wouldn’t happen that way. So I’ve learned to be inventive when adults get in the way of the story.

  1. What was the inspiration for The Birthright Series?

Initially, I had this family in mind and I knew they had some secret. I joked with my sister that they were aliens, but before I knew it I decided that they really were aliens. It intrigued me that there might be all these aliens living on earth, just blending in with humans. And I wondered what might happen to them. At the same time, I love the idea of legends and ancestry you can trace back thousands of years. Rosamund’s family presented an opportunity to explore that and I took it.

  1. Do you see a definite end to this series?

Yes. From the start, I knew I wanted it to have a definite end, and I liked the idea of doing five books.

  1. What are your writing strengths?

I’ve always felt I shine when it comes to character development. (Obviously, readers might disagree with me!) But that’s one of my favorite things about writing is working on the characters and their relationships with each other. And I love writing dialogue. But that really should be a strength considering how much I like to talk…

  1. What other ways do you showcase your creativity?

Graphic design is my other main creative outlet. It’s a nice break from all the writing (and reading) I do. And I love to bake and experiment with new recipes.

  1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

By my early teens. Before that, I was constantly writing something, but by the time the whole concept of work and deciding what to do when I got older came around, I knew it had to be writing. I started out wanting to be in magazine journalism, but then I ended up working as a freelance copywriter for a while. It took some time, but when I realized novel writing could be more than just a side thing, I went for it.

  1. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

At this stage, I’m a bit of both. Initially, I was a pantser all the way. As I’ve grown, I’ve developed my own way of blending the two methods that work with how I approach things but is frankly more effective than how I used to work.

  1. Where do you hope your writing career will take you?

Honestly, I’m kind of happy getting to do what I love to do, which I didn’t think would be practical when I was younger. But my heart was always with fiction writing and I’m delighted I get to pursue it as more than just a hobby!

 

You can find more info about Amy by checking her site, Amazon, and  Twitter.

Let’s Chat with H.J. Blenkinsop

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1. What motivated/ inspired you to write this story? I was inspired to write Kitty Tweddle and the Wishing Well after a series of real events that occurred while I was living in an Edinburgh basement as a Doctoral student. For a start – there was a well in the basement and it did flood while I lived there. The old well was still visible on the bottom of the garden wall, and the homeowners believed the underground stream feeding the well flowed under the house. During a long and rainy summer, the water table rose and the basement flooded!
2. Do you see yourself in Kitty? I don’t see myself in Kitty. Rather, she is the young girl I wish I had been, filled with quiet confidence and a strong sense of self-value. She’s the kind of role model I would like young girls to get to know. A few years back, a colleague and I worked on a project called the Cult of Hotness. We explored the phenomenon of ‘hotness’ in western society. Our findings were grim indeed. Not only does a woman’s worth appear to be tied to her perceived ‘hotness’ as opposed to her intelligence, creativity, contribution or even beauty, but this emphasis on hotness begins long before puberty. Pink princess culture, our research indicated, is a precursor to hotness culture, priming young girls to emphasize physical appearance and a very narrow definition of attractiveness. We were horrified! I wanted to do something back then to help turn the tide. It wasn’t until years later when my Edinburgh basement flooded that the idea clicked into place. Create a protagonist that young girls will want to know. Create a cool girl who is everything pink princess culture isn’t. But also a girl who is real and has feelings, who makes mistakes and has to fix them.Someone readers can identify with. That’s how the idea for Kitty Tweddle was born.
3. Did you create the world for this story as you went or in advance and what research did you do?  
Although Kitty Tweddle and the Wishing Well is a fictional story and the village of Dribble is a made up name, the setting is very real. It’s a lovely neighborhood just outside Edinburgh in Scotland. My descriptions of the house, the street, the library and even the little graveyard are based on what I saw. The three cats really do live in the neighborhood and I did meet Roger in the library, sitting on a black chair in the junior fiction section. The librarians told me he would sneak in on warm summer days when they left the back door open. Even the bit about the library being built over the church foundations is true. It’s all real. It all exists. I simply described what I saw and then added some extra characters like the gargoyles, the night stealers and the bogeyman. And they might have been there too, hiding in the shadows, who knows?
4. What do you hope to accomplish with your story?  
I hope that Kitty Tweddle and the Wishing Well will entertain and keep readers turning the page. If it gets people reading and makes them happy, I’ll call it a job well done. And if her character inspires girls to be creative, to trust themselves, to really value themselves, even when they get it wrong or make mistakes, to get back up and keep going, I’d call that a win.
5. What practical applications could be used in a classroom if using this story as a class read?  The practical application of Kitty Tweddle and the Wishing Well as a class read is simply to engage students enough to keep them turning the page, to get them reading. I was a poor reader as a youngster. I found the books written for my age group boring and patronizing. So I didn’t read. As a writer, I wanted to craft a story that my younger self wouldn’t have been able to put down. To do that, I borrowed many of the devices I noticed in adult fiction and wrote a story that was mysterious, filled with twists and turns, plenty of cliffhangers and surprising characters. A book that would inspire young readers, not patronize them. Then, I made sure it was age appropriate.
6. What motivates you to write?   The stories in my mind motivate me. They want to be out of my head. The best I can do is wrangle them into some kind of order and let them loose. Make no mistake, it’s not easy. I wouldn’t want anyone to think these well-formed characters and stories tumble out of my head and onto the page – they don’t. It’s messy work, writing…
7. What books/ authors do you like to read?  I love page-turners with a magical or supernatural bent – Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and James Rollins spring to mind. I absolutely loved The Lord of the Rings and read it long before the films came out. I’m also a huge Harry Potter fan. When the last book was published, my flatmate had it pre-ordered from Amazon. I almost missed the post woman knocking on the door and had to chase her up the street in my pajamas! She took one look at me in my bare feet and red tartan pj’s and knew I must be after Harry Potter. Her mailbag was full of them!
8. Which author/ book character would you like to meet someday?  Granny Weatherwax. She’s the scary, wise and practical witch in Terry Pratchett’s books. I’d love to sit and have a cup of tea and a chat with her. Although I think I’d be quaking in my boots if I did, because Granny Weatherwax can see through everyone. She sees who’s really there, not who we pretend to be. That’s scary.
9. What is the first book you ever read?  Well, like I said earlier, I didn’t read much as a kid. I found kids books boring. But one day I was up in the attic. It was a scuttle type of access with a tiny trapdoor and you needed a long set of ladders to get in. It was freezing up there and only used for deep storage like Christmas decorations and old stuff that no one wanted to throw away. My dad must have left the ladders set up for some reason so I got up there and found a box of books, old paperbacks. Not kids stories, books for grown-ups. I picked up a fat, well-thumbed book and started reading. Remember, I wasn’t a reader, not at all. Anyway, I couldn’t put this book down. My fingers were getting cold and I could see my breath so I took it down from the attic and into my room. I read this doorstopper of a book in about two days. I can’t remember the name, but I think is was some Jacki Collins novel. I was eleven.
10. If you could only have five books on your bookshelf, which ones would they be and why?  This is tough. I am an avid reader and five books are not enough! I usually have at least three on the go at once. One fiction, one non-fiction, and a wild card… I’ll list my most recent five reads instead.

  1. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. It’s a story about the origins of Yule or Christmas. Sort of… Santa Claus goes missing and DEATH has to take over or Christmas will be canceled… Pratchett’s books are the only ones I have ever read more than once. They’re hilarious and I love the way he twists folklore. Pure genius.
  2. The Gates by John Connolly. A fantastically clever middle grade book. Demons are coming in through the next door neighbor’s basement and only one small boy and his dog can stop all Hell from breaking loose. I think I might actually read this one again someday.
  3. Giants, Monsters and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth by Carol Rose. I have a lot of books on folklore. A lot. But this is the most recent addition to my bookshelf.
  4. Nine Lives: The Folklore of Cats by Katherine Briggs. There’s a wealth of feline folklore in this book and as that’s what I blog about the most – catlore – I refer to this book often. Just for the record, black cats are very lucky.
  5. The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin. I’m on book three right now.

HJ Blenkinsop Ph.D. writes books for girls with gumption and is the author of Kitty Tweddle and the Wishing Well. When she’s not cooking up strange tales, HJ dabbles in soap making and potion mixing. She also blogs about folklore, cats and the bizarre at HJBlenkinsop.com. Find her on Twitter here: @hjblenkinsop

 


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Let’s Chat with Whitney L. Grady

whitneyauthorshotI met Whitney at North Carolina Book ‘Em. Her enthusiasm was contagious. Her passion for not only writing but also teaching makes this former educator very happy. I enjoyed reading her book, I am Currency, and I have the rest of the series in my reading queue for the summer.

As a former teacher myself, I saw so many teaching points/topics in this book. Did you write it with that in mind? Have you tried teaching some of this in your own class? 
Absolutely! As a former middle school English teacher, I wanted to write books that could be cross-curricular (there are so many lessons that could come from the novels and could span different subjects such as science, English, history, etc.). I have taken a break from the classroom while I have been focusing on writing so I haven’t taught them yet, but I have worked with classroom teachers on curriculum for the books are there are curriculum guides on my website.

How did the idea for this book develop? 
The I Am Currency series was born from one single tag line (one that came to me in the middle of the night that I scribbled down on the paper beside my bed to save for the morning): Knowledge is power…but what if it were currency?
I immediately knew I wanted the main character, Nevel, to have a sort of realistic superpower. This is how he got his photographic memory. I also knew I wanted adventure and a lot of action… and so the story was born in a chase across the Australian Outback.

You mention many classic books throughout the story. Why did you choose the books you chose? 
I make many references to classic literature in the books in the hopes that readers will consider reading those works (If the classics are in Nevel’s library, perhaps that could bump them up a few notches on the cool list?! I know it may be a stretch, but certainly worth the try!) I was an English major and I just have a soft spot for the classics (which you may find me re-reading at any time).

How long did it take from idea to publication? What is the biggest lesson you have learned in this process? 
I would say about 18 months. It’s a long process. It can be a “hurry up and wait process”. It is so exciting when you get that first book contract and you want to tell the world…but if you do, you have to tell the world to wait about a year and a half before they will see it. The biggest lesson I have learned is that you can never do too much editing/proofing (It will drive you bonkers if you catch a typo after publication).

What ideas do you have for your next series? 
I have been working on a middle-grade novel with a female character as the lead. It is totally different but has been a fun distraction when I needed to take a break from IAC.

How do you balance writing with the other demands in your life? 
Remember the old I Love Lucy episode when she is working in the chocolate factory and the belt goes faster and faster and she ends up in a chaotic mess? Often, this would be the best example of my attempt at balancing it all. J  Like most moms, some days I am organized and have everything working like clockwork…other days, it’s a chaotic mess!

In one of the posts on your blog, you talk about being a free-range kid. How do those experiences influence what and how you write? 
I grew up in rural Virginia where we spent summers barefoot with grass stains on our knees. It was ideal. My mother was a wonderful gardener and had a children’s garden for us. Every plant in that garden did something; the lamb’s ears felt like stuffed animals, the snapdragons turned into puppets, the balloon leaves filled with air, and the other plants were full of scents and tastes that were unforgettable. We were truly free-range kids who roamed and played and discovered the world around us and I am positive it played a huge role in my story-telling. If I have writer’s block these days, a day with my own kids out in nature is usually the perfect cure.

What are the unique challenges with writing YA Lit? 
I taught middle school for many years so it is not difficult for me to write for young adults. Plus, I think I am still a young adult at heart. The challenge is always authenticity. In any writing I do, I want to give the reader a real and true experience –nothing false or contrived.

What is the last book you read and why did you choose that? 
I try not to read in my genre when I am in the writing mode so as not to influence my writing. The last book I read was The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman and I loved it and was completely absorbed in it; read it in two days. Great story, impressive first novel.

If you could only have five books on your bookshelf, which five would they be?
Oh, you don’t know how hard this is for me to answer! I have shelves and shelves and love them all, hence the library in the mind theme in my novels… If I had to choose, they would have to be: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, One of my antique books with a collection of classic poetry – Fireside PoetsThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.