Then we opened it up for questions. The most common question? "Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for your books?"
This is a great question, and one that is frequently asked in interviews. What I found interesting is that my fellow authors responded the same way that I do. "Write what you know."
I don't think there's any better advice to new writers. High school students will probably find it easiest to write a story based in high school. A young adult in her early twenties might get started with a college-themed story. Once the groundwork is laid and the writer is comfortable with her setting and characters, new elements can be incorporated into the story. Make the protagonist a youth-sleuth, for example, and you have a modern-day Nancy Drew. One doesn't have to stray far from reality to have a compelling story.
My first published novel, Becoming, was written using this advice. The book's opening setting is Newnan, Georgia, a city where I lived for five years. My female protagonist, Amber Hopkins, is loosely based on a 17-year-old young woman with whom I worked while serving youth in Atlanta's foster care (and mental health) systems. The real young lady so inspired me by overcoming a challenged life that I wanted to immortalize her in my books.
When I shared this with the students, it caught their attention. A number of them were in foster care themselves, or had been at some point in their lives. The idea that one of them might inspire a story like Becoming seemed to give them inspiration. I actually hope that it inspired them to write their own stories!
And now, on to the giveaway! I'm going to give away either a signed paperback version of Becoming (if the winner is in the U.S.), or the complete eBook Daughters of Saraqael trilogy (to keep the value about the same) if the winner is international. In order to qualify to win, you need only comment on this post stating that you'd like to win, and one thing that inspires you.
Here's the blurb to further entice you:
As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.
To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.
Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.
Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.
Good luck to all who enter!