I was recently asked to do an interview for Soulla Christodoulou’s new series, A Cup of Conversation.
Thank you so much, Soulla.
You can read it here
I recently interviewed Queensland author, Ellen Read about writing, self-publishing, and what it’s like to undertake research for historical fiction… NLK: How did you first begin writing fiction? ER: I began with reading books. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading and living in a story. As a child I made up fictional […]
I am delighted to welcome Diana Anderson-Tyler to my blog.
Today we’re discussing her book Armor For Orchids.
ER You recently published a new women’s contemporary novel, Armor for Orchids. It follows the life of three young women in a small town. Please tell us something about the book?
DAT Armor for Orchids is a faith-based story told from four perspectives. At the heart of the story is a spunky, sage-like old woman named Poppy McAdams who takes the young women (her “Orchids”) under her wing to teach them invaluable life lessons. Each of the Orchids is in the midst of a tremendously trying time and learns that their chances of overcoming and winning life’s battles are infinitely greater when fought with spiritual weapons.
ER What inspired you to write Amor For Orchids?
DAT I’ve written a bit about my personal struggles in my nonfiction books but felt a strong desire to explore them through fiction. Each of the Orchids in the novel were inspired by pieces of my past, such as Marissa’s struggle with depression, Charlotte’s disillusionment, and Elise’s grief over her father’s sudden death.
ER Was it important to you that the story should carry a message of hope, inspiration and life-changing belief?
DAT I wanted the story to do more than entertain. I wanted women to feel like they were Poppy’s Orchids, too, and that they also could be strengthened by her insight and inspired by her story. It’s my hope that readers will walk away feeling uplifted and optimistic about their futures.
ER Do you have a favourite character in this book? Why?
DAT This is so tough! I think I would have to go with Poppy, though. She’s got a heart of gold but she’s no meek little church mouse. She’s strong in the ways that truly matter. It was very fun to write Poppy too, as she’s the one with whom I have the least in common, so it was quite a challenge to capture her voice and make her seem real… I hope I succeeded!
ER You’ve written other books. Do you prefer YA or do you equally like writing in other genres? What are they?
DAT I’ve written nonfiction books, but I definitely love writing fiction most! As far as fiction genres go, I’ve only written in YA Fantasy and Christian Women’s Contemporary, and must say I enjoy them equally! I love switching back and forth between the two as it prevents me from feeling burned out, and each one presents unique challenges to me that help me grow as a storyteller.
ER Where do you get your ideas?
Various places. My own life, as with Armor for Orchids, as well as simply playing the “What-If Game” with myself in which I explore intriguing premises and keep asking questions until I land on a plot and/or characters that hold my attention for longer than an afternoon.
Word to the wise: always carry a notebook or electronic device with you for recording sudden bursts of inspiration!
ER When did you first start writing?
DAT I started writing when I was four or five, pretty much as soon as I was old enough to hold a crayon! I have bins full of my early attempts at storytelling. They’re so fun to look back on and try to make sense of!
ER What are you working on now?
DAT I’m working on editing my YA Fantasy trilogy, The Petros Chronicles. The first book, Age of the Ashers, will be out later this year. I also recently started the first draft of book 2 in the Armor for Orchids series.
ER Who are you favourite authors?
DAT I have so many, but here are a few: Steven Pressfield (both his fiction and non-fiction works are incredible), Margaret George, Fannie Flagg, Barbara Kingsolver, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
ER Do you have any advice for new writers? Are there any pitfalls they should look out for?
DAT I’ve said this in other interviews, but I can’t emphasize it enough: Never give up!
This career path is not for the faint of heart. Like a freshman college class, it will try to “weed you out.” The strong will survive if they persevere and keep showing up every day to do the work, despite how they feel. (Discipline is stronger than motivation.)
Expect to be tried and tested. Expect to fail and be frustrated. Expect to be rejected by agents, criticized by readers, and questioned by friends. But always remember your “why” for writing and hold that close to your heart. Doing so will ensure you don’t let the bad times conquer you.
ER What do you do when you’re not writing?
DAT I love to read, play board games, spend time outdoors, and lift weights!
Thank you for joining me today, Diana. It’s been such a pleasure. I wish you great success for this and your future books.
Diana has been writing all her life, starting with her own versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics when she was four. She’s always been fascinated with Greek mythology and comic book superheroes, all of which inspire her fantasy novels. She’s also a gym rat who loves to pretend she’s Wonder Woman while lifting heavy weights and swinging from rings and pull-up bars. She co-owns CrossFit 925 in San Antonio, Texas with her husband Ben.
Diana currently writes entertainment and media-related articles for movieguide.org and contributes regularly to charismamag.com. When she isn’t writing or working out, she can be found playing Scrabble with her husband, watching Marvel and Pixar movies, and pinning recipes on Pinterest that she never gets around to cooking.
You can find Diana on her websites dianaandersontyler.com and dianadeadlifts.com, as well as on facebook.com/dianafit4faith, Twitter @dandersontyler, and on Instagram @dianaandersontyler and @authordianatyler.
ER Congratulations, Krysten on the publication of your new YA contemporary romance, Dating the It Guy. Please tell us a little about it.
KLH Thanks! The book is about a high school girl named Emme who winds up dating the son of a well-known senator. She goes through a lot of self-doubt as she watches his perfect ex-girlfriend trying to get him back and not feeling good enough for his new crowd. It’s a book about love, family, and learning to be yourself.
ER What inspired you to write this story? What was your first idea?
KLH I was watching a biography of John F. Kennedy Jr. and wondering what it’d be like to date someone like that back when he was in high school. I started thinking about all the pressures you’d face being in that world. I started reading a ton of books and info on both JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Brendon and Emme aren’t based on John and Carolyn, but their love story did inspire me.
ER I would guess Emme would feel out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world. How does she adapt?
KLH Emme begins to feel out of place and often feels invisible by other girls who try to talk to Brendon when she’s standing right there! There’s a scene where she’s invited to a party at the senator’s home and you see her trying to navigate these very unfamiliar waters. She feels out of place at the party and the finds out Senator Agretti appreciates how she helps out a caterer at the event when everyone else there ignored the girl. We also see how Brendon appreciates what makes her different from his world and how he likes her for those things like her being authentic and real.
ER When Brendon’s picture perfect ex, Lauren, gets into his father, Senator Agretti’s old school, does Emme feel threatened? Does she doubt Brendon and think this has all been planned?
KLH Emme constantly feels threatened by Lauren especially since Lauren pounces and asks Brendon to homecoming the second he and Emme split up. So when Emme gets the news about Lauren getting into the college Brendon planned to attend (like his dad), her heart sinks. If she were to look deeper into what Brendon had shared with her about the future, she’d see what his future plans were.
ER Emme’s last boyfriend cheated on her. It must have left her with trust issues. Does this colour all of Emme’s way of thinking?
KLH Emme is dealing with a lot of mistrust and hurt after her last boyfriend’s betrayal. Her ex, Jon, had been talking to his ex while he was dating Emme and it has left her self-esteem damaged. She’s constantly worrying about being cheated on again with Brendon. Her friends also see how this has impacted her and they try to offer their support.
ER You deal with other issues as well, such as the illness of Emme’s grandparents. How does Emme deal with something like dementia?
KLH Emme is very close to her grandparents and when her grandma gets sick, they become aware of things changing with her grandpa, too. Her grandpa moves in with them and Emme helps care for him. It’s hard for her to watch him become so vulnerable, but she really steps up to be protective of him and help him in this new phase of his life.
ER This is a YA contemporary romance. The story deals with intricate relationships and very real characters. Do you think all age groups will enjoy your story?
KLH I’ve gotten some great feedback from both teens and adults and I love that people enjoy the story for different reasons. Some see themselves in Emme and realize some of her insecurity issues are things they see in themselves. I had a male beta reader who told me he got swept up in the story and he enjoyed seeing Emme’s side of things with her relationship with both Darren and Brendon. Some see themselves in Brendon and how he often has to sacrifice what he wants to do for his family. So I think it’s a story that all age groups can find something in.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Krysten. It’s been an absolute chatting with you. All the best with the book. It sounds fabulous to me.
Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes young adult, middle grade, new adult, and adult fiction as well as humor essays. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in southwestern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows (she’s addicted to American Dad to the point where she quotes episodes on a daily basis and also loves Girl Meets World). She’s also a third generation Detroit Lions fan.
Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.
Praise for Dating the It Guy:
“A sweet, endearing story—you’ll fall in love with Emme just like I did!” –Kimber Leigh Wheaton, YA/NA author
“Hager’s authentic characters will resonate with readers of all ages as they are immersed in the story – complete with teen drama and angst, but also the relationships which make it all worthwhile.” — Leslie L. McKee, book reviewer, Edits and Reviews by Leslie
Amazon paperback: http://a.co/hBydoYm
and Noble: http://bit.ly/2m5y9OC
I am delighted to welcome Kelsey Stone to my blog today to discuss her trials with critique groups and her road to becoming traditionally published.
ER Your latest project, a book, is Sabiak’s Creed. What inspired you to write science fiction? The genre’s obviously one you love.
KS I have a very eclectic literary taste, and so it took me a while to find my voice. I started off writing suspense. Before I began working on my writing career, I spent five years in law enforcement and I drew on my experiences and heartaches to write my first novel, but I fizzled out. Even though I managed to finish the story, I was stuck. I didn’t write anything else for almost a year. The characters and words still played in my head, it just took me a while to realize that those characters and those stories were rarely confined to this world and when I’d chained myself to a non-speculative genre, I’d drained the energy out of my imagination.
For me, science fiction operates much like a parable. I can tackle pressing issues in a manner that is less threatening for the reader and hopefully reveal some truths about the world we live in and what it means to be human. It’s kind of like being a scientist. I can isolate certain aspects of society and humanity and really dig in with the what-ifs.
ER Becoming published is not an easy task. Even before you’re ready to take that step, there are so many stages during the writing. Do you send your work to critique groups? How do you find that part of the process?
KS I am blessed to be a member of two fantastic critique groups, two amazingly talented editing partners, and one extremely argumentative writing group. It took me a long while to get to the point where I was capable of sharing my work. It was my passion for my stories and my determination to produce the very best story possible that finally pushed me to look for feedback, that and the gentle prodding of a couple of close friends who did their best to slay my insecurities.
I started the writing group in a quest for feedback. Originally, I had hoped that it would grow into a finely oiled critiquing machine, but that just wasn’t in the cards. There are too many strong personalities, and because of that, everyone was afraid to share their work. I did find one of my critique partners in that group, however, and I absolutely love the debates the group gets into, even if we aren’t particularly productive. The critique groups that I participate in found me through my writing platform and invited me to join them. As my writing network has grown, I have been presented with opportunities to grow my skill and craft.
With Sabiak’s Creed, I wanted a professional opinion before I sent it off, so I found and carefully vetted a freelance editor. The experience was incredible, and my writing grew profoundly during the couple of months we spent working on my manuscript.
ER Once your manuscript is finished, the road to publication is, or can be, a long one. Agents are reviewing Sabiak’s Creed at present. Finding an agent can be difficult too. Have you learned anything along the way that might help other writers?
KS The most important trait a writer can have is tenacity. The odds of an agent liking your book are about as good as have the same taste in food as a random stranger off the street. Not everyone is going to like your writing, and that is okay. Rejection is part of the writing process, no matter the type of publishing you pursue. A writer needs to learn how to move on and keep at it.
You can increase your odds by researching agents carefully. Find agents who you think will enjoy your story and tell them why you think they will enjoy your story in your query letter. Personalization is the key to getting agents to take notice.
ER Why did you decide traditional publication over Indie publication?
KS The biggest factor in my decision to attempt traditional publication is actually my own limitations. I am in awe of many of my writing friends who are Indie authors. They do it all: writing, formatting, publishing, and marketing. At this point, I am just not talented enough to balance all of those hats well. Also, I want my novel to reach the widest audience possible, and traditional publishing offers the best opportunity to get a large readership. Finally, I would love to build my craft and skill enough to write literary fiction, and about the only chance I would have to find an audience for that kind of writing is through traditional publishers. The benefit of pursuing traditional avenues is that it has forced me to be more reflective about my writing.
ER Would you ever consider Indie publishing?
KS Absolutely! In fact, I do plan to pursue Indie publishing in the future with specific manuscripts. At this point, I just feel like I have a ton left to learn and refine before I am ready for that step. In the meantime, as I learn to navigate the literary world, I plan to continue querying agents and trying to get traditionally published. It doesn’t cost me anything, except, perhaps, a few tears over rejection letters, and it has already led me down unexpected paths and grown my writing in new ways.
ER What are you working on now?
KS Sabiak’s Creed is complete, but I am planning on taking another few passes to polish it even further. When I get stuck on new stories, I take a break and do an editing pass. It is the first in a series, and I have two more novels in the series written and am working on revising those right now, as well. I have also started a new project that melds science fiction and anthropology, but it is in the very first stages of writing and has a lot of growing to do. Whenever I need a break or need to feel the ecstasy of completing a project, I spend some time on short stories and poetry. My hope is to eventually have some polished shorter pieces that I can submit in competitions and to journals.
Check out what Kelsey Stone has to say about writing and peruse her short stories on www.tibetanlemon.com or connect with her on facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorkelseystone/ or on Twitter or Instagram as @scifistone
ER Your debut book, Jenna’s Truth, has been very successful. What was your inspiration for it?
NLK About this time last year, I came across a video on Youtube which literally broke my heart. It was a video posted by a fifteen-year-old girl sharing her story of being bullied. The girl was Amanda Todd and her life ended in suicide. I couldn’t not respond to the death of this bright and lively girl. I had to do something and so I tried to make sense of this tragedy by writing a story which of course, was the birth of Jenna’s Truth.
ER Bullying is something that is age-old. Do you think it’s worse now with Internet and social media?
NLK I believe that cyberbullying is far more insidious than traditional bullying. Not only does it allow perpetrators a degree of anonymity but it also provides them with a far broader audience. Cyberbullies have the ability to ceaselessly torment their victims at any time of day or night. It is difficult to escape from cyberbullies. Amanda Todd moved house a number of times and the cyberbully tracked her down each time. Thankfully, here in Australia we have tough anti-cyberbullying legislation and we even have The Office of The Children’s eSafety Commissioner. https://esafety.gov.au/cyberbullyingcomplaint
ER Has Jenna’s Truth taken you to places you never imagined going, both emotionally and physically into places such as schools?
NLK Jenna’s Truth seems to have taken on a life of its own. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about stories having lives of their own in Big Magic and it certainly rings true for Jenna’s Truth. The story is being taught in a number of schools in a couple of countries and it looks as if it will soon be adapted for the stage. It will be more than thrilling to watch Jenna’s Truth on stage. I’m quite flabbergasted when I think how far this short (only 6,000 word) story has gone. It has also meant that I have had to overcome my fear of public speaking.
ER What aspirations do you have for Jenna’s Truth?
NLK Ultimately, I want to see Jenna’s Truth be included in the curriculum in my home State of Western Australia. I am keen for dialogue to occur in the classroom and for teens to know there is always a way out. I can’t bear to think there are kids out there who aren’t having this conversation; that there are kids out there who are suiciding because they have been cyber-bullied.
ER Is there anything you’d like to say to anyone who finds themselves a victim of bullying?
NLK Don’t let them win. You are precious and special and we need you in the world. You are not alone and somebody wants to help you. Please call the Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.
ER What are you working on now?
NLK I’m really excited to be starting a brand new project. My first full-length novel (I’ll try to get past 6,000 words this time :)), I’m still in the research phase but I plan to write a YA novel where the main protagonist is a 16-year-old male struggling with his sexuality. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!
You can buy Jenna’s Truth https://www.aulexic.com.au/product/jennas-truth/
I’ve been privileged to know Beverley Lee for only a short time but every day has been a pleasure.
Beverley is a freelance writer currently residing in the south east of England. In thrall to the written word from an early age, especially the darker side of fiction, she believes that the very best story is the one you have to tell. Supporting fellow authors is also her passion and she is actively involved in social media writers’ groups.
I am delighted to welcome Beverley to my blog today to discuss her debut novel The Making of Gabriel Davenport, which is released on Friday 8 April.
You can find out more about Beverley Lee by clicking on the links below:
1 First of all, please tell us about The Making of Gabriel Davenport. ‘One night. One secret.’ It has me already fascinated.
It’s a dark fantasy, set in the present day but with definite ties to the past. I find my inspiration in many places, but one is the indomitable human spirit of courage and hope in seemingly hopeless situations, and I think this applies incredibly well to this story. This is about a normal family and one twisted branch of fate that changes everything. And of course, it’s about secrets, and how one that was buried resurfaces and threatens to tear apart everything Gabriel holds close.
2 What inspired you to write this story?
A long time ago I watched a TV series (I don’t recall what it was!) set in an old house which was a base for a paranormal research organization. I’ve always loved the idea but had never found the right story to do it justice. I’ve played about with it before, but it was only with Gabriel that I found the flow, although snippets of my original do make an appearance.
3 What drew you to the paranormal fantasy genre?
I’ve always been drawn to the darker side of fiction and I like to weave the complexity of human emotions into this. I wanted to create something with layers that the reader could peel apart and step inside. I wanted them to *feel* the struggles all the characters go through, whilst delivering a fast paced, suspense driven story. All my characters have flaws. All my ‘good’ characters have bad points. All my ‘bad’ characters have light. It’s not a typical paranormal fantasy, I prefer to think of it as contemporary, but with supernatural elements.
4 Did you always write in this genre?
Yes. Although I have dabbled in others over the years. This is where I am comfortable, but if the right story came along and nipped at my heels that wasn’t in this genre, I would definitely run with it!
5 I love the book’s cover, especially the font. I know you do too. How did the developing of the cover unfold?
Thank you, Ellen. The wings on the cover were hand drawn by my best friend, who also happens to be a very talented, fine arts trained, illustrator. Originally, the wings were attached to a body, but this didn’t quite work, so this version was chosen, as a nod to the ‘fallen’ element which is apparent in the story. The illustration then went to my cover designer, who sent me numerous fonts to look at (at first I actually discounted this one!) I did a public ‘ask’ session in a café and everyone said they preferred this font. I wanted a cover that was simple yet striking and I believe I found it.
6 I believe you were nominated for the Liebster Award. Will you tell us something about it?
I was! I’m often nominated by lovely bloggers for these kinds of things, which astounds me as I’m probably the worst blogger out there. I have every intention of posting weekly and interacting, but something always seems to take precedence. It was fun to complete though, they always make me think slightly outside of the box, which is a very good place for a writer to be.
7 Where do your ideas come from?
Everything. An overheard snippet of conversation. A song lyric. The strange sense of deja vu in an historical place. The ocean. Starlight. I’m very much a pantster when it comes to writing. I have a beginning and usually a vague end, but the rest is an organic process. It always amazes me how it all fits together in the end.
8 What authors inspire you?
Oh, lots! Stephen King (always The Master), Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice (her older stories), George R R Martin, Maggie Stiefvater, Leigh Bardugo.
9 What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Apart from being able to work in your pj’s all day? 🙂 Creating a new world with new characters that didn’t exist before you gave them wings. It’s the closest thing to pure magic for me.
10 When did you first start to write? Was there one thing that made you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote the most awful cliché ridden pony stories as a young child. My poor, long suffering English teacher would no doubt attest to this! Words were instilled in me from an early age. I was always a bookish girl. I think most of my formative years were spent in a library. Writing was something that I had to do, a calling, if you will. But I did fight it. In the years where my family grew up I hardly wrote at all, but it was always there niggling away in the background.
11 What are you working on now? I’m sure everyone will be hoping it’s a sequel.
It IS the sequel! At this point the draft is nearly ready to send out to my wonderful band of beta readers. Then comes the hard work of changes and moulding it into something good enough to send out to my editor. I’m hoping to make a start on the last book in the series soon too. I have little bits floating around my head all of the time. Later on this year, I also have a short story in an anthology about ‘doomed love’ with a global band of writers and artists that I’m excited about.
12 I know you are very supportive of other authors. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
It is very much a passion. I’ve been lucky enough to have been nurtured by some wonderful writers on my journey, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. I believe in ‘paying it forward’. I’m currently leading a writing challenge group on Twitter for the month – the group that took me by the hand last year at the very beginning. My advice would be to simply write. Don’t edit. Get that first draft down with all of its warts and hangups and then start playing about with it.
13 What is your writing process? How long were you working on The Making of Gabriel Davenport?
Gabriel started off as the first 3,000 words in a short story competition that I never entered. But something wasn’t quite right. I picked it up again in January 2015 and realized what was wrong. Originally, he was a girl, named Erin, and once I changed this, everything fell into place. I knocked out the first draft in three months. Then it went through two more before it went out to beta, and two more before my editor got it. As I said above, I’m an organic writer. I let my characters lead me. Sometimes they put me up against a brick wall but sometimes they give me gold.
14 Where is your novel available for purchase?
It’s available from Amazon as an eBook and Paperback.
15 When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Is there such a thing as not writing? J I spend a lot of time on social media, as you well know, but I do love to read and to walk. It’s where I get a lot of ideas from. If I get the chance I love a good movie or box set I can binge through too.
16 Is there anything else you would like to say to your prospective readers?
I hope you enjoy the journey I’ve taken you on, and that my characters have made you think or have found their way into your heart. I appreciate you more than I can ever say.
I’d like to thank Beverley for joining me today. It’s been fantastic hearing about your debut novel and about you. I wish you all the best with The Making of Gabriel Davenport, and eagerly await your next novel.
I was invited by Legendary Writing on Instagram to do this interview.
You can read my interview on Smashwords at this link Ellen Read Smashwords Interview
It covers when I first started writing, the story behind Love The Gift, what I’m working on next and more questions.