[Guest Post] HOW I WROTE AND PUBLISHED THE DIVIDED NATION by ANGELA R. WATTS

Hello Lovelies! Today I have author Angela R. Watts on the blog sharing about her new novel which has released today! At the end of the post you will find all her social links and book summary below!

 

Every novel writing process, for me, is different. However, I’m a firm believer that every work I write should scare me in its own way. (Ironically, when I attended Realm Makers, Brent Weeks said the same thing. It was funny to have that mindset before hearing it from a NYT bestseller!) And The Divided Nation scared me from the start.

The Divided Nation began as a roleplay, which lasted for a couple years, but when my roleplay partner left for good and told me to do with the story as I wished… I was both lost and ecstatic. It wasn’t the first time a roleplay had gone “wrong”. But it was the first time the story didn’t leave my heart and it baffled me! After all, how could I do this story justice? It was a long series. I couldn’t handle that. “It isn’t the time,” I kept saying to myself. “Dystopian is hard, you will have to research so much.”

After a while, I told those voices to shut up and I listened to what God said. And the journey began. It started with a short Christmas prequel that I whipped up in one day during winter. I liked it. A lot. I couldn’t believe how much I’d enjoyed it, so I promptly got it ready to publish for that December. I had dipped my toes into the world I’d tried to avoid… and came out of the story absolutely in love. Emmanuel is currently free on Amazon but it is priceless to me. Why? Because it proved that these books are not out of my hands. God gave them to me. I just had to grab the bull by the horns. Emmanuel helped me do that on a super small scale.

I had pages and pages of notes, scribbles, snippets, plot ideas, character sheets, etc, for the series before I ever wrote a first draft of The Divided Nation by myself. I gathered all of this together, added some, wrote a real outline… And started writing the first draft in February 2019. Draft one took around a month to finish and I printed it out, wrote out all that needed changing, and started draft two.

After draft two, I self edited a great deal before… beta readers. The beta reader stage was quite a wild ride. Dystopian is a strange genre and not one many Christians read, or so I thought. I had betas loving the novel. I even brainstormed with a few and got epic ideas I hadn’t thought of before… Even if this meant replotting the whole series, but I don’t mind so much.

I wanted to self publish this novel with the new knowledge I had learned: a book should sell itself. How does it do that? 1. The story must be good. This is obviously up to interpretation, but make sure the book is solid, not tossed together. 2. The cover and formatting need to make people WANT that story even more. People like pretty things. If the story is good and the book is nice looking… You won’t have to work so hard later on.

So I hired a cover designer, formatter, and finally decided I’d take the wild ride of using KDP and Ingram to publish… and the rest is history. It took hours of work, hours of talking with the great people I hired to get what the book needed, and hours of research as I figured out Ingram. But it was all so worth it.

And now, I’ll take a moment to reflect on the big lesson that writing and publishing this novel taught me… Changing your lane. What do I mean? Well, all I’ve published thus far is Christian fiction. Clean content, by most standards, nothing too dark. Christian readers have generally enjoyed my previous works. The Divided Nation is different. I knew this from the start. It is one reason I was afraid to write and publish the series. Because these books aren’t limited to the Christian market. They aren’t super clean. They aren’t for people with faint hearts. So, what was I supposed to do? Most of my friends write and read Christian market fiction! And no one published dystopian anymore (that’s incorrect, by the way, I was just blind)!

I had a decision to make. I knew this novel was for readers in search of a story that shows the reality of the world without Jesus, of how every person is a sinner in need of Jesus… This book is for them. Not strictly for Christian readers or secular readers. I wanted it to be flexible. That’s why I decided to market this novel as general fiction with Christian content instead of Christian fiction! I’m so glad I did. This decision was encouraged when I attended Realm Makers this year. “Is it possible?” I asked Robert Liparulo. “To publish a novel with strong Christian content but market it for general audience?” He said it was, reminding me of all the authors who have done just that (TED DEKKER, ANYONE?) so I ran with it. I haven’t looked back. I encourage every single one of you… be bold. Even if it isn’t the norm, even if none of your friends are doing it, even if you don’t get a lot of support… Be true to God and your story. And run with it.

 

                                                 AUTHOR BIO

17597325Angela R. Watts is a Christian fiction author who strives to glorify the Lord in all she does. She’s a homeschooled highschooler living at Step By Step Sanctuary, Tennessee, though with Gypsy and Norwegian in her blood, she tends to travel. She’s been writing stories since she was little, but also enjoys chores, painting, and watching sunsets.

LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AngelaRWattsauthor/
Website: https://thepeculiarmessenger.wordpress.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Angela-R-Watts/e/B07F97JNMY?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564688304&sr=8-1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angelarwattsauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17597325.Angela_R_Watts

the divided nation_v7 (3)                                      SUMMARY

WHEN THE NATION DIVIDES, THE INFIDELS MUST RISE.

The United States has fallen. Three years after the 2024 presidential election and the declaration of martial law, the nation is at war against itself. Gangs battle, civilians struggle for survival, and officials of the United Nations  thrive. West Johnston, heir to the most powerful ganglord in the country, refuses to continue the family legacy. But, in order to defeat his father, he must become him: bloodthirsty and willing to do whatever it takes for control.

West gains control by helping fellow gangsters, Nate and Simon, when they form an alliance with one of the last remaining townships in America. After years of surviving and winter fast approaching, Springtown is in desperate need of supplies from the two teenagers. When the town leader’s daughter, Rene’, is kidnapped by an unknown rival, Nate and Simon risk their reputations to save her and the town they now love. But without help from West, their rescue mission will fail.

Told in multiple bold, abrasive narratives, THE DIVIDED NATION steps into a future where brotherhood bonds must be stronger than iron to survive a broken world, and faith without courage is dust in the wind.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45150828-the-divided-nation

The Sound of Diamonds Blog Tour || Author Interview

Hello Readers!

Today I am SO happy to be apart of The Sound of Diamonds Blog Tour in which I will be interviewing author Rachelle Rea about her upcoming novel, The Sound of Diamonds, and ask her about her writing process and tons of other wonderful things! What better way to celebrate ones birthday than by interviewing such an amazing author? (Seriously guys, you will want to buy Rachelle’s book.)

The Sound of Diamonds 2

 

*Note: Book Review Will Be Coming To The Librarian Files on Monday, June 15th*

Hello Rachelle, and welcome to The Librarian Files! To start this off, could you tell us a bit about you?

Hi Adriana! Thank you so much for having me! Let’s see, I’m a debut author with an addiction to Oreos. I drive a pick-up and play country music—Rascal Flatts is my favorite. My curly hair is natural, and I coach gymnastics as well as work at my church. Oh, yeah, and I’m barely five feet tall. 🙂

 

High Five for Rascal Flatts! So, when did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

In middle school, after a friend and I wrote a short story together about twin sisters who rode horses. I thought that was fun so I kept writing stories, which kept getting suspiciously longer and longer.

 

 

That is great! Now, I must ask, can you tell us a bit about your upcoming novel?

The Sound of Diamonds is set in the 1500s. At that time, not only was the Reformation in full swing in Europe, but modern-day Holland was launching the Dutch Revolution because they no longer wanted to be ruled by Spain. My novel plops right there in the turmoil of religious upheaval and political intrigue. And, oh yeah, there’s a guy who wants to save a girl who doesn’t want to be saved. They’re my favorites, even though the history first drew me.

 

 

Where and when did you get the idea for this novel?

I was driving down Central Avenue in my little town on the way to a college class, when I heard a song on the radio. I forget the song but I remember thinking, oh, wow, that sounds like diamonds. Which, of course, is a really strange thought. So I spent that summer writing a book to figure out what The Sound of Diamonds is about.

 

 

Sounds fascinating!…And here I just get my story ideas while leaning over a sink of dirty dishes…*cough cough* Moving on. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes! I hate to give it away, but I will hint that there’s a lot about hope in this story. Through tragedy and heartbreak and the craziness that is life, Gwyneth and Dirk both learn a lot about how to have hope—and where to safely store that hope…

 

 

Is there a way you can relate to your main character?

She’s tall, so not there, LOL. 🙂 Gwyneth actually shares my near-sightedness. I wear contacts—I detest how I look in glasses; but Gwyneth wears glasses all the time. Well, until a certain chapter that I won’t spoil. 🙂 Anyway…yes, there were glasses back then. They were expensive, but they existed. And Gwyneth has a pair without which she can’t see well.

 

 

What is one thing you found particularly challenging when writing this novel?

Gwyneth. She’s sort of a spoiled brat at the beginning of the book. She’s definitely little like me in a lot of ways. I didn’t struggle liking or relating to her, which is good since I’ve spent so much time with her over the last three years! But she was definitely a challenge at times. She knows what she wants and what she doesn’t and that can sometimes get her into trouble.

 

 

She sounds like such a fun character!

Okay, So I myself am a plotter. Did you have an outline for your novel?

Yes and no. I know, terrible answer. 🙂  I did not outline Diamonds. I just sat down and wrote a story that summer. Which caused me headaches when it came time to revise and edit. With Book Two in the series, The Sound of Silver, I created more of an outline up front. With Book Three, The Sound of Emeralds, I outlined even more. Each book happened differently. I’d like to think I’ve settled into a happy place of loose outlining. 🙂 Ask me again after the next book!

 

 

Did you learn anything from writing The Sound of Diamonds? What was it?

I learned a lot of things: that you can have hope when life is hard, that I can finish a whole novel, that Historical Romance is my favorite genre to write in, and that finishing a novel made a world of difference to this heart. I felt like a real writer, and that motivated me to keep with it, invest in the story more, and look into publishing it.

 

 

Besides family and friends, what is one entity you feel supported you through this writing process? 

Without hesitation, I can think of one community of writers who were an amazing support to me. Led by Stephanie Morrill, Go Teen Writers is a group of writers who are both teens and older; I found and joined the GTW community when I was on the cusp of entering my twenty-somethings, but it is still my favorite writing blog to follow. I highly recommend Stephanie’s blog (which she now co-authors with other writers) to any newbie and growing writer, regardless of age.

 

 

Do you have any advice for other writers/authors?

Read. I can’t say that enough. You can’t learn how to fly a plane by watching one glide across the sky, but you learn a lot by watching a sentence soar. So read in your chosen genre—and out of it.

 

 

Do you have anywhere where we, as readers, can stalk-er…I mean find you online?

Fun question. 🙂 I blog and love social media, especially Instagram now that I have a smartphone!

Website: http://rachellerea.com

Blog: http://rachellerea.com/blog/

Instagram: @RachelleDianeRea

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/inspiringdaring/

Twitter: @RachelleRea

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8144149.Rachelle_Rea

 

Thanks so much for having me, Adriana! It’s been fun!

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Rachelle!

 

 

Rachelle Rae

Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

Interview- Jennifer Murgia

Hello Readers!

Today I have the honour of interviewing Jennifer Murgia, Author of Forest of Whispers.

So lets get this thing started, shall we?

 

Hello Jennifer, and Welcome! Could you tell us a bit about your novel?

I’m happy to! FOREST OF WHISPERS is a 17th century Bavarian witch mystery detailing a horrifying inquisition that centers around the life of a sixteen year old girl, Rune. Rune has been raised in the Black Forest just outside a village that, years before, had burned a witch at the stake for a murderous crime. What Rune discovers is that this witch was her mother and she begins to hear her whispers of intent to exact vengeance upon the village.

 

Wow. Sounds interesting. (I have this book on my TBR list) So, What inspired you to write FOREST OF WHISPERS? 

I love witch novels—always have, always will. I also love researching and found it beyond interesting that the largest (and original) sweep of witch trials began in Europe, mainly in and around the area of the Black Forest. My mother, who is a HUGE genealogy buff, had traced our family back to pre-Germania and later discovered our ancestors had settled in Southwestern Germany, and I couldn’t help wonder if they had lived through those horrible years and what they could have endured. Not only that, but it has long been rumored that a great, great, great grandmother of mine was accused of witchcraft. Incredible fodder for a story, wouldn’t you say?

 

Did you write an outline before writing the novel?

No. I’m not really an outline person. I tend to begin with a prologue to keep me focused, but the prologue doesn’t always become part of the story. It wasn’t until I was about ¾ through that I wrote a small outline to keep the timeline on track. I just always need a good chunk of the main story under my belt before I know if I’m headed in the right direction.

 

What was the hardest part of writing Forest of Whispers? 

During my research I read several accounts of those who had been accused of witchcraft, and suffered deeply as a result. What a dark and hideous time it must have been to live in. There was no hope as neighbor turned against neighbor for the silliest of reasons—famine, plague, jealousy. It had catastrophic results and even the most respected or wealthy could not be spared of the accusations.

 

In Bamberg alone, 60k innocent people were condemned. This was so hard to stomach as I tried to create a world around fact for my novel. If you were accused, denying your involvement only prolonged your sentence. Many eventually admitted they had cavorted with Satan or cast spells just to get it over with, as the torture they had endured was so excruciating it was better to admit you were a witch and welcome death.

 

What is one way you relate to your main character(s)?

Rune learns she is a solitary witch, which is often called a Hedge Witch. She doesn’t belong to a coven, nor does she follow any strict rules, other than honoring the Sacred Mother. I’m a very private person. My beliefs are my own yet I do follow a simple structure. I feel connected to Rune’s character in the sense that life is a gift, we should give thanks for what helps you along the way, and always stay true to your soul.

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If you are to judge someone, prepare to be judged yourself – for things come around threefold.

 

Did you learn anything from writing FOREST OF WHISPERS and what was it? 

I love history and weaving it into a work of fiction gives me a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. You know when you hear of a tragedy and it’s almost TOO BIG to process? Like the Titanic sinking and picturing what the passengers went through on that fateful night—how they felt, what they saw, what they KNEW was about to happen . . . Researching and writing FOREST OF WHISPERS had that same effect on me. The backstory was so intricate, so horrifying it was nearly mind-numbing to accept. When you take the general history and break it down into individual stories and records—when you realize it’s not just a page from a book, or an idea, or a tale passed down, but a REAL event that happened to REAL people, it’s devastating.

I guess I can say I learned how much my heart can hold when I read about how people treated one another, and it breaks when I question if hundreds of years later, have we really become a society that treats people any differently? We may not have village burnings but we have other ways of pointing fingers and ruining.

 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

When I was in High School the Young Adult section in bookstores was very limited—consisting of either very young, very sweet, or topics written anonymously and whispered about at school. I found my way to the works of Milan Kundera and devoured his titles. They spoke to me. They were emotional and gripping and begged me to dig deep and find myself. I grew up wanting to write like him.

 

What is one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?

God. I can’t tell you how many prayers were sent to steer me in the right direction and to help me through the rollercoaster moments.

 

Do you have any advice for other writers out there who are looking into publishing or just writing a story in general?

It’s a two-step process, really. Write the story first. Lock yourself away if you have to so you can pull the best possible story out of yourself, then revise, revise, revise. Have a few trusted individuals beta read it for you. Take their suggestions, plug them into your story. Oftentimes we’re too close to what we create to see the flaws, find the correct flow. But the more open you are to accepting suggestions, rejection, ideas on how to make what you have even more polished, the story will shine.

 

Where can we as readers stalk you on social media? (Pinterest, Goodread, FB, Blog etc etc.)

Website: www.jennifermurgia.com

Email: jennifermurgia8@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.murgia

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferMurgia

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jennifermurgia/

Goodreads TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18506004-forest-of-whispers

Instagram: Jennifer_Murgia

 

 

Interview- S. Alex Martin

Hello Readers!

Adriana here with another interview from S. Alex Martin, author of Embassy

 

Could you tell us a bit about your novel?

EmbassyCover

 

Embassy follows Arman Lance, a 20 year old guy who’s down on life because he’s sick of where he lives, where he works, and having next-to-no friends. He wants to join the galaxy’s Embassy Program, which will let him board an expedition to Belvun, a forested planet where the girl he used to love lives. But when Arman enters the Embassy and journeys across the galaxy, he learns how he’s held himself back from appreciating his life.

 

 

 

 

What inspired you to write Embassy?

It began as a short story that I wrote for a magazine back in 2012. Though the magazine didn’t accept the submission, the editor encouraged me to broaden the story and turn it into a novel. I didn’t start writing the novel until January 2013, but it’s nothing like the original. Now it’s loosely based on a true story.

 

Did you write an outline before writing the novel?

Nope. I’m a pantser, not a plotter. I have vague ideas of what direction to head, but for the most part it’s trial and error.

 

What was the hardest part of writing your novel?

Honestly, coming up with names for fictional foods. It’s much more difficult than it sounds. The food isn’t a large part of the story, but my longest pauses were when I had to think of what to name a food Earth wouldn’t have.

 

What is one way you relate to your main character(s)?

As I said, Embassy is loosely based on a true story. The core themes are all things I learned in real life. So in that respect, I relate to Arman. The rest of the characters are all pieces of me. Glacia Haverns is my adrenaline-rush side, Victoria Hofhen is my responsible side, Officer Remmit is my brainiac and talkative sides, Orcher is my quiet, deep-thinking side…etc, etc. Combine all the main characters, and you have me.

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Live life and enjoy it. Take the next step. Be who you want to be. As Glacia says, “It doesn’t matter what we think we deserve. All that matters is what we choose.”

 

Did you learn anything from writing Embassy? What was it? 

In real-life, Embassy helped me get out of a very deep hole. My mental rock bottom. I don’t think anything could’ve tied me down the way Embassy did. I make a note of this in the dedication: ‘To anyone who needs a second chance.’ Knowing where I was just days before writing this novel, I think it’s the perfect dedication for this book. Even now I’m getting a little teary-eyed thinking about it, hahaha.

 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Thematic-wise, I think John Green is my biggest influence. I love his style and his stories. I almost ran into him at the Pittsburgh Pirates playoff game back in 2013. Almost.

 

What is one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?

My friends were there from the start. They’d come hang out as I sat and typed or edited for hours upon hours every day for months on end. I appreciate their patience and support, even now, almost two years after I started writing Embassy.

 

Do you have any advice for other writers out there who are looking into publishing or just writing a story in general?

Don’t just sit down and think you have something to say. Go out and live. Explore. Do something you’ve never done before. Go swimming in a lake, go climb a mountain, go walk through a forest. Volunteer somewhere. Cry over someone. Be human and experience your humanity. Then you’ll have a story to tell.

 

Where can we as readers stalk you on social media? (Pinterest, Goodread, FB, Blog etc etc.)

http://www.salexmartinauthor.blogspot.com

 

You can buy Embassy on that website, too, and all my social media links are in the header of the site.

Interview- Laura Anderson Kurk

Hello Readers! I am still here, I promise. I apologize for not doing any writing posts as of late but I have been a crazy busy person and especially now with my cousins visiting and thanksgiving this coming weekend!  (I’m in Canada Y’all 😉 ) I am also gonna see if my cousin want’s to do some sort of discussion/review of a movie or book while he is here…cause I think he would be all for it. Anyways, This is me trying to apologize for my absence and mention that I will, in fact, start posting very very soon but until then, here is another interview from author, Laura Anderson Kurk 🙂

LAURA ANDERSON KURK, author of Contemporary YA laura1Laura Anderson Kurk is one of those lucky souls who gets to live in a college town. In fact, it’s her college town—College Station, Texas, where she drove in under cover of darkness when she was way too young and proceeded to set the place on fire. (Actually, she stayed in the library stacks for the majority of her tenure as a student at Texas A&M University, but in her imagination, she was stirring things up.) She majored in English for the love of stories, and due to a massive crush on F. Scott Fitzgerald. She continued on to receive an advanced degree in literature. She writes contemporary books for young adults, a genre that gives her the freedom to be honest. Her debut novel Glass Girl is an unconventional and bittersweet love story, and its sequel Perfect Glass makes long-distance love look possible. She’s crazy about her husband and her two ginger-headed kids. Laura blogs at Writing for Young Adults (laurakurk.com). On twitter, she’s @laurakurk.

                 1.Could you tell us a bit about your novels?

Glass Girl

new2 Glass GirlGlass Girl is a story about all the ways grief changes us. When Meg Kavanagh finds herself in the unthinkable role of grieving sister, she discovers some harsh truths—parents aren’t perfect, life’s not always sweet, and the dead don’t write back. Her famous artist mom grieves by slowly disappearing, and her dad copes by moving them to a small town in Wyoming.   What she finds in Wyoming blindsides her.   His name is Henry, and he’s a rancher’s son who pulls Meg into his larger-than-life world and shows her that being sensitive is not an excuse to sit this one out. Meg learns that the best things in life—like falling in love and finding mercy—require uncommon courage. And with the help of a strange set of friends, a locker room disaster, and a trip she’ll never forget, she finds that the things she thought would break her—school violence, loneliness, and separation—can be overcome.

Perfect Glass

new Perfect GlassThe sequel, Perfect Glass, follows Meg and Henry through the next stage of life as they learn what they’re made of. Things get messy when Meg gets involved—first with Jo Russell, the eccentric old artist, and then with Quinn O’Neill, the intriguing loner who can’t hide how he feels about Meg. Her senior year doesn’t turn out like she planned it, but sometimes the best parts of life happen in the in-between moments. Henry has committed to one year in an orphanage that needs him more than he ever dreamed. Thousands of miles from Meg and the new punk who has fallen for her, and absent from the ranch that’s in his blood, Henry finds out what it means to trust. When you’re so far from home, it’s terrifying to realize you’re not who you thought. But the perfect glass of calamity makes the best mirror.   An identity crisis, long distance love, new temptation, and growing pains teach Henry and Meg how to hang onto each other and to what really matters.

  1. I loved both novels, so I now have to ask, what inspired you to write Glass Girl and Perfect Glass

I was curious about survivor grief, especially sibling survivor grief, in a culture of school violence that seemed to be occurring more and more frequently in the U.S. I had watched the siblings of some of the Columbine victims as they moved numbly from interview to interview and it made me wonder about their emotional landscape and the kind of grief that had to be peculiar to these kids. When I released Glass Girl, I never really thought I’d write a sequel, but I knew that there was a story behind Henry’s perfection in the first book. We had so far only seen him through Meg’s weary eyes and he stepped in as the hero in so many ways. The second book gets real and shows what happens when the All-American boy is stripped of all his crutches and must rely on himself in a foreign land. And I wanted Meg to grow and mature and share her deep-water compassion with someone who truly needed it.

  1. Did you write an outline before writing the novel?

I don’t typically outline novel-length works. I often wish I did. I kind of start with a beginning, middle, and end in mind and then attempt to write in a linear way. Although my chaotic brain ends up skipping around a lot more than it should. An outline would help. But I feel like a book that begins with a skeleton framework but builds in lots of room for surprises and organic realism is the only kind of book I can write. An outline might force me to ignore interesting tangents that make all the difference in the end.

  1. What was the hardest part of writing both Glass Girl and Perfect Glass? 

Writing is the easy part for me. It’s all the nonsense that happens after writing that is difficult. If I had to pick one thing that’s hard during the creative process, it would be finding enough consecutive hours in a day to get into a true state of flow.

  1. What is one way you relate to your main character(s)?

I relate to Meg’s over-sensitive nature and her inability to turn off her empathetic radar even when she needed to for her own survival.

  1. Thats how I related to her as well! I am very much like that. So, Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That help is all around. That we all struggle at different moments in our life with things like anxiety and depression and grief, but that help comes from all kinds of places if we’re willing to accept it. That it’s okay to throw your whole heart into loving others.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing Glass Girl and Perfect Glass and what was it? 

I learned a great deal in the process of writing both books. I learned about storytelling and craft. I learned that there’s no need to fear honesty in writing. That I’m not alone. That some stories will gnaw at your soul until you tell them. That young adult readers are some of the most open-hearted, soulful people in the world.

  1. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Laura L. Smith is definitely one of my writing mentors because we are able to share so much of this journey with one another and we keep it real and relevant. She’s a true gift to my writer’s soul.   I also consider certain writers to be mentors even though I’ve never met them. Sara Zarr, Deb Caletti, Jandy Nelson, and others whose work I adore and who are open enough of their own process that I feel like I can sit at their feet and learn a lot.

  1. Yay! So I’m not the only one who would choose Laura L. Smith 🙂 What is one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?

I’m deeply connected to Jesus and I feel like my work has a role to play in a larger scheme. I’m not sure how that all comes together or what exactly is happening behind the scenes, but I trust that He is using me for a purpose and that he’s given me words and love for story for a reason even if it’s just to touch one life in a meaningful way.

10. Do you have any advice for other writers out there who are looking into publishing or just writing a story in general?

  Read constantly. Read great literature. Read short stories and poetry. Read about craft. Follow writers on social media who love words and meaning. Follow Anne Lamott. Read Toni Morrison. Find stories that stir something in your soul and figure out what it is that makes that so special. Then practice. No one is born a writing prodigy. It’s a skill that is earned through hard work and patience and keeping your eyes open for meaning. You’ll find the story you were meant to tell.

11. Where can we as readers stalk you on social media? (Pinterest, Goodread, FB, Blog etc etc.)

  website/blog: laurakurk.com.   Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laura-Anderson-Kurk-Writer/215071391875250   Twitter: @LauraKurk   Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/authorlaurakurk/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4092458.Laura_Anderson_Kurk   Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Anderson-Kurk/e/B003FGA86W/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1412087043&sr=8-1

Interview- C.F. Barrows

Hello once again readers!

Today I have another interview for you all and I am so excited! Today I am interviewing my really good friend, Carissa. (Or better known in the publishing world as C.F Barrows. 😉 ) So let’s jump right into this because I am excited!

 

 

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C. F. Barrows writes not only to entertain, but to share with her generation the good news of Jesus Christ. She is a homeschool graduate, and lives in Northern Indiana with her family, a hyperactive dog, and hundreds of fictional characters birthed by her own over-active imagination.

 

Hello, and Welcome! Could you tell us a bit about your books? 

Well, I guess technically, I have two novels. There are many more lurking inside my brain, waiting to be written into existence, but as it is, I guess there are only two which I can currently discuss. 

‘The Sehret Chronicles’ is a Christian Fantasy series geared mostly towards teen and young adults. It takes place in a world called (as one might guess) Sehret, and centers on some of the people who live in it. ‘The Follower’ (the first book) is the story of two scouting patrols who are trapped in a cave-in together and, with their main routes back home blocked, have to band together to escape. It was my first novel, and my perfectionist self wants to rewrite it, but I’ve been told it’s a strong allegory of faith and the battle between good and evil. Here’s the full blurb: 

“Three hundred years ago, the Rhenor nation split into two, the Reshan and the Khanor. One dwells in the Outerlands, the other in the mountains – and although the nations have made peace, their people have not. One fateful day, two small patrols meet in an outer cave in Khanor territory. The youths, spurred by mutual distrust, brawl, and the ensuing cave-in cuts off their main routes back to both the Reshan and the Khanor civilizations. Their only choice is to join forces and follow the one remaining tunnel – one that runs through an area known simply as the Forbidden Regions – to find their way back to their homes. Along the way, the beliefs of every traveler are put to the test, and the secrets of a few may threaten the safety of all. For as they go, Lusefar, lord of the Saethen, sends his agents against them, licking his lips as a ravenous dragon.” 

The prequel, ‘The Merchant’s Son’, follows three of the main characters approximately seven years before the events of ‘The Follower’. It’s my favorite of the two, probably because it’s newer and there were fewer characters to wrangle, therefore enabling me to develop the ones I had more fully. I guess it’s also an allegory, both of the battle between good and evil, of the slippery slope of temptation, faith, and self-sacrificing love. Here’s the blurb for that (because I’m lazy and it’s easier to copy and paste than figure out how to better explain myself): 

“Sheth Terrem is the son of traveling merchants, making one last stop in the bordertown of Lans before they return home with their newly-acquired merchandise. But then tragedy strikes, and a simple promise sends Sheth to live with a man he’s barely met, who seems as though the last thing he wants is an orphaned teenager to look after.
Sern Jesyn expected to look after the boy for a day, perhaps a week or two at the most. With unrest in the streets and among those who walk them, living alone is trial enough. Now that their time together has been termed indefinite, and long-suppressed memories come back to haunt him, he is uneasy at the thought of following through on his word.
But what neither of them knows is that their trouble did not end with the riot. Rather, it lives on in the surviving rioters, and in a boy called Siran, who has begun to find keeping his nose out of his older brother’s business both difficult and increasingly dangerous.” 

What inspired you to write ‘The Sehret Chronicles’? 

In high school, I contracted something called Lyme Disease. It’s a degenerative auto-immune disease which is difficult to diagnose, so I had it for a year and a half before we got a diagnosis and started treatment. During that time before my diagnosis, my mind and body were crumbling, and my faith began to erode with them as depression and confusion engulfed me. It effectively put my faith through the fire, and forced me to question just how strongly I believed, and how much I was willing to trust God. God brought me out of that valley, but through it, ‘The Follower’ was born. I channeled a lot of my own inner struggles and beliefs into it, so a lot of the struggles of the characters were my own struggles repackaged, and the revelations to which they came were those which God taught me through that struggle of an unknown illness. ‘The Follower’ was meant to be a stand-alone, but I fell in love with the characters and realized there were many stories left to be told with them, so it became a series. Funny, considering that the original story concept was just a random scene that I jotted down in my notebook and added to for fun whenever I got bored. 

 

That is probably the coolest thing I’ve heard on how a story was created. (Not cool that you have lyme disease but as to how it came about) So, since I’m a plotter I have to ask, did you write an outline before writing the novel? 

Ha. Funny story there. Yes, I did write outlines, both for ‘The Follower’ and for ‘The Merchant’s Son’. I also plotted out the series as a whole. But through the actual writing process, I have discovered this: I cannot follow a set plotline to save my life. Usually, what happens is that I start writing the novel, get a couple of chapters in, and realize that I have no idea what I’m doing. So I sit down and write an outline (as detailed as possible based on what I’ve already figured out), and I follow it faithfully for, oh, say five chapters. Then a major plot twist smacks me in the face, and in my excitement (or possibly just in reaction to having been smacked in the face), I toss the outline out the window. Okay, not literally. But I might as well. I become a pantster at least by the halfway point, and usually have to regroup and recruit friends to help me brainstorm a solution for the mess I’ve made for myself. 

 

That’s me with outlines too. I outline then a plot twist surprises me then I just go from there. Now, tell me what was the hardest part of writing your novel? 

I guess it would depend on which novel you mean. With both of them, and with other projects, my biggest problem is sticking with the story once I’ve hit that “I have no idea what I’m doing” stage. With ‘The Follower’, I followed my outline very rigidly for the first several chapters, and I feel like it restricted me to some extent, which was stressful, so I had trouble sticking with it for a while. ‘The Merchant’s Son’ started out being a more mundane story in which Sheth is orphaned, goes to live with Sern, and somehow befriends Siran while he’s living in Lans. At least, those were the bare-bones of what I had to work with, and it sounded terribly boring to me. It took a couple of major plot changes and twists smacking me in the face to convince me that it was worth finishing, but ultimately, it is my favorite of the two. 

 

I’m trying to hard not to fangirl over all the character here. (Conceal it, don’t feel it.) Okay, so since I read the books I’ve been dying to know, what is one way you relate to your main character(s)? 

Oh, boy. Only one way, huh? I’m not sure I can do that. I guess for ‘The Follower’, I relate to Sheth’s struggle in maintaining his faith in the face of trials, Jorthen’s desire for perfection, and Kyra’s desperation to appear strong when she’s falling apart inside. In ‘The Merchant’s Son’, I can relate to Sheth’s bookishness and Sern’s battle between his own nature and what Yahveh wants him to do. In both books, there is an overarching theme of trusting God even when you don’t know what He’s doing, and I guess when I wrote that, I was really teaching myself more than the characters, so I can relate to their struggles in that area. 

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

…Oops. Did I answer this one too soon? Oh, well. I guess the general message of the series that I want readers to grasp is that God is there, and that He has a plan, even when things get hard, even when we don’t understand what He’s doing. He’s so much bigger than anything we can comprehend, and He never leaves. He’s worth trusting. 

 

That is great! A message I think everyone needs to hear! Did you learn anything from writing ‘The Sehret Chronicles’ and what was it? 

I guess for one thing, I learned that if God is in something, it will succeed despite my doubts and weaknesses. ‘The Follower’ is not a perfectly written book. I’ve gotten numerous reports of confusion from early on in the book, largely due to the number of characters. I am a perfectionist, so even letting anyone read my most painstakingly edited work takes a great act of courage. But even with the book’s flaws, I’ve heard so many more people say how much the book has blessed them and helped them grow in their faith. As much as I would love for everyone to be dazzled with my writing, it is more important to me that the message gets across without sounding preachy, and that it really does something to help people. And by God’s grace, that’s apparently what has happened. 

 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

…I have to choose? *hides* Okay, um… Not that I’d imitate all his content (especially in his recent years), but I guess Ted Dekker was a significant influence on my writing. From him I got my love of allegory, and of illustrating the contrast between good and evil, and I think I take after him somewhat in my style (though obviously, he’s much more amazing). However, I have also been told that C. S. Lewis is a strong influence, and I intentionally patterned a couple of the villains after Screwtape and Wormwood from ‘The Screwtape Letters’. And then there’s Tolkien, of course… Sorry, I can’t pick one. I just can’t. 

 

No pressure. I don’t think I could just pick one either. (Great choices by the way) What is one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members? 

In 2010, I joined ChristianWriters.com, a community of Christian writers looking to share in fellowship and encourage one another in their writing/publishing journeys. I haven’t been that active recently, but I got a lot of useful feedback and encouragement in the most formative years of my fledgling writing career. The members there even prayed for me when I said that I was struggling with writing ‘The Follower’ within my given deadline. It was awesome. I felt accepted, despite my lack of age and experience, and it was just so helpful for me. 

 

Okay, so not gonna lie. I totally checked out that site and signed up before posting this…just saying 🙂 So, last but not least, do you have any advice for other writers out there who are looking into publishing or just writing a story in general? 

Don’t give up. I know that the path ahead looks daunting at times (if not most of the time). I know the terror of sharing your writing with others who might not appreciate it in the way I hope they will. I know the lure of plot bunnies that try to pull you away from your main project with their promises of a more interesting story. But if you stick with your project and give it over to God, I promise it will be worth it, whether you end up publishing it or not. Nothing is written in vain. You either accomplish what you set out to do, or you learn from the experience. Getting anywhere in the writing world requires developing a thick skin, so to speak, and learning to realize that if people don’t love your work, it is not a reflection on you personally. You can always work harder and make your writing better. Negative feedback is not the end of the world, and failure in the short term might set you up for greater success in the long run. 

 

Oh yeah! Where can we as readers stalk you on social media? (Pinterest, Goodread, FB, Blog etc etc.)

Well, let me just write up my list here… 

Pinterest (Has storyboards and character profiles, writing prompts, humor boards, as well as a myriad of other random things): http://www.pinterest.com/CrazyWriter94/ 

Goodreads (I’m not very active here, but you can follow me anyways): https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5587583-carissa 

Facebook (For news and updates on books, sales, giveaways, etc.): https://www.facebook.com/pages/C-F-Barrows/356238444468516

Blogger (For randomness pertaining to books, writing, faith, and whatever pops into my head on a given day): http://www.digressionsofadementedscribe.blogspot.com 

Interview- Laura L. Smith

Hello Readers!

Today I am interviewing yet another author and I am pleased to get this opportunity to talk to Laura L. Smith, Author of novels ‘Hot’,’Skinny’, ‘Angry’ and the ‘Status Update Series’

IMG_1920Hi Laura, So great to have you here! Could you tell us a bit about your novel?
It’s Addicting is the third book in the Status Updates series. It revolves around four college roommates and the struggles and triumphs they encounter as they navigate the demands and freedoms of college life.
What inspired you to write ‘insert title’?

I live in a college town and am surrounded by vibrant college women. They are so full of potential, energy and life, yet plagued with so many pressures to perform, to fit in, to juggle school, social and family life. These women inspired me to write this series tackling some of the things they have to deal with like relationships and homesickness, grades and finances, sharing a small living space with new friends and knowing how far is too far. Specifically, It’s Addicting deals with the little things in life we enjoy or use to comfort us or build ourselves up. What happens when those small pleasures become vices? When we rely to heavily on a habit or a relationship or a mindset? When do they cross the line to become addictions that dominate our decision making? And how do we deal with that? It’s Addicting follows Claire, Hannah, Palmer and Kat in their sophomore year of college. It explores the various coping mechanisms and pleasures they seek ranging from exercise to boys and how that changes them. It is a faith-based novel, so it really explores how worldly things can come in conflict with our faith and how challenging it can be to balance living in this world, but not being of this world.

Did you write an outline before writing the novel?
No. I’m not an outline kind of girl. But I always have an idea, a sketch of what the book is going to be about. It’s Addicting had characters, and each of them had a specific “addiction” she was going to deal with long before I started writing it. Since it was the third book in the Status Updates series, several of the ideas evolved as I wrote the first two books, thoughts like, “at some point Claire is going to have to face this,” or “Kat’s going to have to watch how hard she trains. It’s awesome, but it seems to control her sometimes.” I took those ideas and nuances of the characters and started brewing their sophomore year. I had some ideas for a spring break trip, because it’s an integral part of college, and an international travel program to Germany, because all of these books have an international element, but the details come as part of the writing process.

What was the hardest part of writing It’s Addicting? 
I always find the editing process to be the hardest part. It’s difficult to cut scenes or dialogue that I worked so hard to craft. It’s also challenging to add to scenes that I’d hoped were completed. But editing is also so rewarding! It’s like taking a rough, rocky gem from a stream and polishing it until it’s smooth and glossy. Editing truly improves writing. In fact, it is an integral part of the writing process.
Editing is definitely a struggle for me but once I do it it feels great to have finished 🙂 So,I absolutely love the characters in this series meaning I have to ask, what is one way you relate to your main character(s)?
Wow! There are a million ways I relate to all of my characters, and yet, they are also so different than me. There are slices and shreds of me in all of them. I was a ballerina, like Claire. I am a writer, like Palmer. I have a close relationship with my older brother, who is my only sibling, like Kat. Hannah is kind of the “mom” of their group, getting people tea, writing notes on their white board. I actually am a mom, so I do those kinds of things for my family all of the time. I love to travel, and all of the places the characters have ventured are places I’ve visited; Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, the beach. I love chocolate and coffee houses and going for runs and music, and the girls all find themselves doing these things, because these are experiences I want them to have.

That is great! I love how as the writer you are also a little bit of all your characters. 🙂 So,  is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My hope with this novel, with all of my books really, is to remind readers that they are beautiful creations in Christ, that their identity doesn’t have to be wrapped in the world’s expectations, but can be wrapped in Christ, that they are wonderfully and fearfully made by their Creator, and that we need to keep our eyes fixed on that, because when we do, all of our struggles are easier, there is more peace and strength and joy in our lives.
What is one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
God. He is the author of the universe. All of my ideas come from Him. Literally. I’ll be sitting and writing and entire scenes and characters spring forth where there was nothing. He gives me divine inspiration. I write for Him.

Do you have any advice for other writers out there who are looking into publishing or just writing a story in general?
Write. Write. Write. And then write some more. The more you write, the better you get. The more you comment on blogs, write your own blogs, write letters, enter short story contests, write poetry, etc., the more you’ll exercise your writing muscles.

Where can we as readers stalk you on social media? (Pinterest, Goodreads, FB, Blog etc etc.)
Just about every where 🙂
My website and blog are http://www.laurasmithauthor.com
FB https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laura-L-Smith/41514076249
Twitter @LauraLynnSmith
Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/laurasmithbooks/
Instagram http://instagram.com/laurasmithauthor
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5577597.Laura_L_Smith

 

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LAURA L. SMITH, author of New Adult/Young Adult Fiction

Laura L. Smith loves God, her husband, her four children, writing and speaking. She writes real stories for real girls. Her previous books include Skinny, Hot, and Angry. She is a featured columnist at Choose Now Ministries and speaks at schools, churches and campuses around the country. Smith lives in the college town of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Interview- K.M Weiland

Hello Readers! Today I am honoured to be joined by author K.M Weiland for an interview! The fact that I have this opportunity is very exciting!

Now, let’s get started 🙂

What inspired you to start writing?
One of my earliest memories is a story I came up with when three or four. I don’t remember a whole lot about it except that I was the hero in a tree house, and I saved my entire extended family (we were at a family reunion) from some unknown evil.

So, really, story-telling chose me. I’ve always been dreaming stories; writing them down was just the next step in a natural progression.

Wow. That’s awesome. I really love how your childhood imagination never really leaves you when it comes to writing sometimes 🙂 or when it’s the thing that started it all.

Do you write an outline before writing your novels?
Always. In a nutshell, my process goes something like this:

1. Craft a premise sentence.
2. Brainstorm ideas.
3. Explore character backstory.
4. Interview characters.
5. Identify settings and/or world build.
6. Write an extended outline (in which I flesh out and structure each scene).
7. Condense that outline into the most pertinent notes and type them up in Scrivener.

What do you find, is the hardest part of the writing process?
Every book is its own adventure. Something that’s easy in one book can end up being surprisingly difficult in another. Major rewrites, when they’re necessary, are probably my least favorite part—but they offer their own rewards too. Honestly, I enjoy aspects of every part of the process.

Rewrites and I are never on agreeing terms. So, what is one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
My critique partners have been great, especially my longtime critter Linda Yezak. We’ve been critiquing and supporting each other since before my second book came out. It’s awesome to know another writer has your back and is able to both help you grow in your own writing and also commiserate about issues non-writers wouldn’t necessarily understand.

That’s awesome. Critique partners are amazing. Do you have any advice for other writers out there who are looking into publishing or just writing a story in general?
First, write the best story you have in you. Second, don’t expect to find success with your first novel. It can happen, but it’s not likely. Keep writing until you’re personally confident in the book and are no longer hearing about any major problems from your critique partners. There’s no reason to self-publishing or querying agents until you’ve reached that point.

 

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K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

 

Thank you K.M Weiland for doing this interview and thank you, my wonderful readers for stopping by to read this interview! (More coming soon 🙂 )

 

Until Next Time!

Adriana Gabrielle