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#subaid for 08.12.13

 

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Author Interview: Sara Raasch

Hello, marvels! Today I’m thrilled to host an interview with author Sara Raasch!bio banner DSCN0558Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures.

Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, is coming out Fall 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

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interview bannerThank you for agreeing to this interview. After reading the bio, we’d like to know more about you! What’s the quirkiest thing about you?

The quirkiest thing about me is my slightly unhealthy obsession with ducks. Where I live is surrounded by a lot of ponds and streams, so there is a very large duck population, and this has somehow turned me into the Crazy Duck Lady. I’m the person who talks to them as I feed them (“You already had some seeds! Wait for your next turn.”) and scares away the small children who try to chase/kick them. Luckily, my fiancé is more than willing to put up with my antics.

Tell us a bit about your book! What inspired SNOW LIKE ASHES or drove you to tell this particular story? What sets it apart from others in its genre?

SNOW LIKE ASHES is the product of more than a decade of inspiration, turmoil, and passion. I wrote the first draft when I was twelve and revised/dreamed/obsessed over this story on and off until last year, when I rewrote it from scratch, changed 90% of it, and sent it to my agent. This has always been THE story for me – the one that stuck in my head and wouldn’t let me go, with characters that grew up with me and a world so vivid I could never get it out of my head. It still makes me all giddy that THIS will be my debut novel – the story and characters that have always meant so much to me, that have been my Dream Book ever since I was a wee authorling.

Do you think you could share your favorite excerpt or tease us with a single quote even?

I’m still in the process of editing SNOW LIKE ASHES, so I can’t in good conscience share a teaser without being horribly afraid I’ll miss a typo/change it, but I will share with you my most favorite quote from the whole book. It’s a quote my main character comes across etched in a cave wall, and it encompasses every feeling I’ve ever had about this book, publishing, and dreams:sara quote

I used to tell myself this when things got too hard, I got rejections, my friends got fantastic deals and I was still wallowing in desperation, when I felt like my decade-plus years of trying and failing and trying again to get published wasn’t worth it. Someday it would be worth it. Someday it would be better than I ever imagined it could be.

What was your process for writing SNOW LIKE ASHES? Did you make a story outline, map out scenes with index cards, or did you just go with the flow?

Oh my. I’m a HUGE plotter – obsessively so – but it really helped that I developed SNOW LIKE ASHES over more than a decade. It gave me time to flush out the details of the world, the story, the characters (even if I did end up changing a lot of it), and allowed me time to get just the right angle on every pesky problem.

I’m also a HUGE fan of maps – I can’t for the life of me picture layouts/buildings in my head, so I have to draw maps for everything. Every important building (palaces in particular), every city, every kingdom, every world. I have an inordinate amount of (really poorly drawn) maps that I refer to at least a dozen times a day. And actually, I’m SO bad at picturing layouts in my head that when I read a book that doesn’t have a map, I get hopelessly lost and spend an embarrassing amount of time rereading descriptive passages just so I can figure out where the characters are going.

What advice have you most benefited from? Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to impart to all the writers still on their journey toward publication?

The best advice I’ve heard is twofold: Keep Moving Forward and “You can always edit a bad page, but you can never edit a blank page.” Keep Moving Forward has helped me put in perspective all of the failure, rejections, and heartache that comes with publishing – that no matter what bad things happen, it’s important not to let yourself dwell on them for too long. Nothing good will come from letting negative things beat you – if you want it badly enough, keep going until you get it. The only way you WILL get it is if you keep moving forward. I started querying the first draft of SNOW LIKE ASHES when I was a preteen – I’m almost 24 now. More than a decade later, and the book I dreamed about seeing published as a child is finally getting its moment. Persistence is rewarded.

And then, “You can always edit a bad page, but you can never edit a blank page.” Drafting is my kryptonite. Editing/revising I can tackle no problem, but drafting? Horribly intimidating, to stare at that blank page and create something out of nothing. But every story starts out BAD. Like shudder-inducing bad, and the only way to make it good is to get the bad story down so you can edit the crap out of it and make it good. I repeat this quote incessantly as I draft to remind myself to just write – and to again keep moving forward, in a different capacity!

If you could visit a fictional setting, what would it be and why? Also, who would you most likely get into a fight with?

Oh, tough question! Is it sad that I’ve never actually thought of this? I feel like they’ll revoke my writer-license!

I’d have to say (even though I know it’s not a book-world) – Warehouse 13 from the SyFy show, Warehouse 13. The endlessly awesome gadgets and artifacts make me giddy with NEED. Plus, I’m pretty sure Claudia and I would be BFFs.

As for who I’d be most likely to get into a fight with…I’m generally a pretty laid-back (*cough lazy cough*) person, and fighting seems like a lot of work to me. I usually avoid conflict simply for that reason – I don’t like expelling a lot of energy on stuff like that. That being said, (again with the TV show references…I read books, I swear!) I don’t think I’d get along very well with Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. While I am pretty laid-back, I also have a very small amount of patience, and I’m pretty sure he’d use it all up!

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#subaid for 08.05.13

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Author Interview: Kendra Leighton

Hello, marvels! Today I’m thrilled to host an interview with author Kendra Leighton!bio banner Kendra PictureKendra Leighton is a YA author represented by Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency. Her debut novel, Glimpse, will be published in 2014 by Much-in-Little.

Kendra has a BA in English Literature from Durham University. Her first ‘grown-up’ job was teaching English in China, Spain, and the UK. She discovered her love for YA fiction while working as a middle-school English teacher.

In 2008, she left teaching to start a raw chocolate company in Cambridge. These days, when she’s not making chocolate, she can usually be found writing, reading, taste-testing chocolate (far more than necessary), or trying to steal other people’s cats.

dividerWebsite * Goodreads * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest

interview bannerThank you for agreeing to this interview. After reading the bio, we’d like to know more about you! What’s the quirkiest thing about you?

Thanks for having me! Hmm, the quirkiest thing about me… Before I started writing, I used to spend my free time painting copies of Pre-Raphaelite art.

I also have a place on my neck that, if you touch it, tickles an entirely unconnected place on my back. Weird!

Tell us a bit about your book! What inspired Glimpse or drove you to tell this particular story? What sets it apart from others in its genre?

Glimpse is a ghost story and a love story. I’ve always loved romantic Gothic fiction, so my first novel was always going to be Gothic or paranormal. What makes Glimpse different is that it’s inspired by Alfred Noyes’ poem ‘The Highwayman’. The story wouldn’t exist without Noyes’ poem, but it also isn’t a retelling. I can’t reveal much more than that!

My Pinterest boards here and here show more of my inspirations for the book.

Do you think you could share your favorite excerpt or tease us with a single quote even?

My book’s still being edited, so I don’t have an excerpt, but here’s the blurb:kendra blurb

What was your process for writing Glimpse? Did you make a story outline, map out scenes with index cards, or did you just go with the flow?

I didn’t plan anything before writing Glimpse. I knew the beginning and ending and let the story go where it wanted! However, it turns out I’m really more of a planner than a pantster, so I created a lot of work for myself in needing to go back and fix things.

I’m working on another book now, planned in much more detail—characters as well as plot—and have needed a lot fewer drafts to get where I want to. It’s all part of growing as a writer though! Always learning.

What advice have you most benefited from? Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to impart to all the writers still on their journey toward publication?

Write because you enjoy it. Even if you’re lucky enough to get your first book published, novels take a long time to write well, and there’s always more to learn. It takes real dedication and doesn’t have a guaranteed pay-off, so enjoy the process.

Also, it’s an obvious one, but read writing craft books and keep an eye out for good online classes. You can find my favorite writing books here.

If you could visit a fictional setting, what would it be and why? Also, who would you most likely get into a fight with?

I’d love to visit the world of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy, where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts, including animals’. It would quickly get claustrophobic, but a day or two’s visit would be fascinating.

As for fighting someone, I’d fight Willy Wonka for his Oompa-Loompas. I make chocolate for my day job, and an Oompa-Loompa or two would come in very handy!

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Pay It Forward Giveaway for August 2013

pay it forward1dividerHello, marvels! Welcome to the very first Pay It Forward Giveaway!

In case you haven’t heard about what the giveaway is about, here’s a quick rundown:

Pay It Forward–as the  name suggests!–is all about giving back to the publishing community. Its been a lifesaver to be a part of this wonderful, online family and I’ve learned so much thanks to everyone. Now, I want to give back and help others using the skill sets I’ve learned due to my internships and book deal. It’s my hope that other people will get involved in the Pay It Forward Giveaway and spread the love. Taking part is as simple as grabbing the button code found in the sidebar, posting it up on your website, and holding your very own giveaway! For a more in-depth explanation, click here!

Now, with that said, here’s what one lucky person will win from my giveaway:

  1. An in-depth critique of the first 50 pages of your manuscript. This critique will include copy edits and a detailed editorial letter commenting on things such as pacing, voice, and character development.
  2. A $25 Amazon gift card. Go forth and buy books!

This giveaway is open to everyone in the publishing community, not just writers. If you are a reader, reviewer, or blogger and want to enter, do it! If you don’t have a manuscript to be critiqued, but want the gift card, no problem! Upon winning, simply let me know you wish to waive the critique prize and I’ll have the rafflecopter choose a secondary “runner-up” winner who will instead get the critique prize. Also, be sure to either watch the #PIFG hashtag on Twitter for Pay It Forward Giveaways elsewhere, or check out my Twitter stream for retweets and announcements of other giveaways!

Good luck to all entrants and I hope you decide to Pay It Forward in the future!

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Click HERE to be taken to the Pay It Forward Giveaway rafflecopter!

#subaid for 07.29.13

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Author Interview: Danielle E. Shipley

Hello, marvels! Today I’m thrilled to host an interview with author Danielle E. Shipley!bio banner author borderDanielle’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself … or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing young adult novels, she’s probably blogging about it.

dividerWebsite * Blog * Facebook * Twitter

interview banner Thank you for agreeing to this interview. After reading the bio, we’d like to know more about you! What’s the quirkiest thing about you?

That would probably be my status as a willing vessel of character possession. Talking to characters isn’t that uncommon, for authors. But when the characters start talking back – their voices coming through your mouth, their actions driving your body, their physical reactions to your friends making you feel ten kinds of awkward – that’s when that little “h-ha, ha” of concern from strangers comes standard. I’m just glad I’ve never aspired to normalcy, or I’d be a very disappointed young woman.

Tell us a bit about your book! What inspired The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales) or drove you to tell this particular story? What sets it apart from others in its genre? 

Like most of my books, my debut novella The Swan Prince came about as a result of me taking notice of an interesting character or two, essentially asking myself, “Okay, what can I give these people to do to showcase what makes them awesome?” and then writing until yay, it’s a complete story! I’m super glad that the stage I set in this case was a fairytale, because I love seeing the magic and whimsy (and yes, the lovey-dovey “happy ever after” factor) of those classic tales played around with over and again. (I drew mostly from bits of “The Wild Swans” and “Beauty and the Beast”, for Book One; Book Two coming in September and the rest of the Wilderhark Tales series will play with far more!) I like that they both have that element of predictability and endless opportunities to veer off the beaten path and take us by surprise. Just throwing around familiar elements like midnight balls and beanstalks isn’t enough for me, though. In case you couldn’t tell by now, I like my stories character-driven. Give me a unique, compelling cast first, and a sensational story second, and I shall ever endeavor to give the same.

Do you think you could share your favorite excerpt or tease us with a single quote even? 

Aye, and gladly! As might be easily inferred from the book’s title and cover image, one of the book’s protagonists, Sigmund, doesn’t spend all of his time in a typical human form. In the story snippet to follow, one of his co-stars, Sula, has just discovered this, and… what can I say? Their interaction amuses me.

danielle excerpt

What was your process for writing The Swan Prince? Did you make a story outline, map out scenes with index cards, or did you just go with the flow?

If memory serves (and it will have to, since the hard drive that held my old brainstorm document crashed this past spring, boo-hoo), I typed up maybe a page of how I envisioned the story’s first act would go, then I opened up a fresh document and started to wing it. This was a good handful of years ago; I’m a much more extensive plotter now, some brainstorms running the length of a novella in and of themselves. I’m not sure when or why my style changed. I guess I just eventually reached the point where I realized I prefer to know where I’m going.

What advice have you most benefited from? Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to impart to all the writers still on their journey toward publication?

“Don’t give up” is a good one, though not terribly useful for me, since I never felt giving up was an option; I love writing and an audience too much. “Write what you love” is better, since you’ll be far less inclined to quit, that way. And “be yourself” is among my favorites. Like I said, I’ve never aspired to normalcy. The crowd is crowded enough. So basically, “Write what you love, your way, and don’t give up.” That is the sincerest advice I can offer.

divider..a little more about the book itself..

Swan Prince Cover, E-book

Catching her leg in a bear trap proves the least of Sula’s worries. Haunted by an enchanted monster from a past she dare not reveal, and hounded by the perilously perceptive young village doctor, Villem Deere, the headstrong girl of the woods gambles with fate by binding hers to that of Sigmund, the captivating orphan boy with mysterious nightly business of his own.

 The Swan Prince

Book One of The Wilderhark Tales

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An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast; a princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell; bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk – all within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.

You’ve heard the stories – of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball; of frog princes, and swan princes, and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea. Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales.

Know them now as Wilderhark’s.

dividerIt was a pleasure hosting you on my blog, Danielle! To all you marvels out there, Danielle is donating a prize to one lucky winner! Click HERE to enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win.

#subaid for 07.22.13

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Agent Interview: Jordy Albert

Hello, marvels! Today I’m thrilled to host an interview with literary agent Jordy Albert!
bio bannerjaJordy Albert is a Literary Agent and co-founder of The Booker Albert Literary Agency. She holds a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University, and a M.A. from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She enjoys studying languages (French/Japanese), spends time teaching herself how to knit, is a HUGE fan of Doctor Who, and loves dogs.

She is looking for stories that capture her attention and keep her turning the page. She is looking for a strong voice, and stories that have the ability to surprise her. She loves intelligent characters with a great sense of humor. She would love to see fresh, well-developed plots featuring travel, competitions/tournaments, or time travel.

dividerWebsite * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

interview banner✖ Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Jordy. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What’s the quirkiest thing about you?

Thanks so much for having me. Well, besides reading, I’m really interested in archaeology and I love animals! Something quirky? I LOVE silent films.

✖ Was there a defining moment leading to your wanting to be a literary agent?

I would say just my love for reading. I’ve always loved reading, and I was particularly interested in the behind-the-scenes of how a book got published, so it just sort of evolved from there.

✖ What writer blunder do you see the most often that makes you want to face-palm?

I find that sometimes a writer will get caught up in description/imagery, and forget that the plot and characters are just as important. A story can have the best description and imagery, but if the plot isn’t developed well enough or a reader doesn’t care about the character, then s/he would be less likely to continue reading.

✖ What’s on your submissions wish list? What are you sick of seeing in the inbox? 

I’m always looking YA contemporary, YA sci-fi or New Adult, which is quickly gaining a huge readership.

I’ve received a number of submissions that deal with suicide. Suicide is such a heavy topic, and it’s a subject that I would tend to shy away from.

✖ And lastly, a theoretical question for you. You’re headed to a duel: sword or pistol, and why? Also, what did you do to make things lead to a duel? 

Sword. Because I’ve always fancied I’d make a great pirate.

dividerAgain, Jordy, thank you for agreeing to this interview! To all you marvels, there’s also an added bonus!
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Jordy has agreed to donate a critique of the 1st 10 pages of a manuscript to one lucky person! Click HERE to be taken to the rafflecopter to earn yourself some entries! You have till midnight on Sunday, at which point the raffle will close. The winner will be announced Monday. Thanks for stopping by and good luck to all raffle entrants!

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