Monday, May 28, 2012

The Heart of an Indie Author

The Heart of an Indie Author

As some of you know my name is Quinn Loftis and  I am the author of The Grey Wolves Series. I published my first book in June of 2011 and since have published 2 others. The fourth in the series will be coming out in 10 days. I am still very new to the world of Indie Authors but I have come to realize already what an amazing community it is. I have "met" so many awesome authors and heard their stories on how they came to be authors. We have shared frustrations, triumphs, fears, failures, joys, success, and our stories with one another. I have learned more about writing through these other authors than I ever did in a class room or book and I have been blessed to get to see them each be successful in their work. 

One of the things that I don't think readers understand (and I don't say this to be disrespectful) is the hard work that and Indie Author puts into one book. The hours of writing, the proofing, the cover, the publicizing, altering the website when necessary, blogging, responding to email, face book and twitter- all for the love of putting out a book that will bring a reader joy, sorrow, anger, passion, redemption, jealousy, fear, love. I can attest that there is nothing greater than finishing a book after all of the work, putting it out there and then getting positive reviews. When that happens all the hard work is more than worth it. The most amazing thing about Indie Authors is they don't resent the work, they don't hate doing all their own leg work and footing out all the money for give away's and swag and book tours. They do it because the genuinely love the art of writing.They do it because to them, to us, their is nothing more satisfying than writing a book and knowing you have invoked emotions for a reader, that you have created a world that they want to escape to and hate having to leave even if only long enough to put the clothes in the dryer.

The world of an Indie Author is exhausting no doubt. It is at times very painful when you read a harsh review. It is rewarding, but sometimes that reward is bitter sweet. Above all the world of and Indie Author is a dream come true. Thanks to the awesome invention of the internet, and then the electronic readers it is now possible for people to make their dream of being published a reality. I will not say that what I do now as an Indie Author is harder than being a nurse. But just as being a nurse had it's difficult points so does writing.
 I am so thankful to be able to share with other writers what it's like to do this day in and day out. I have a new respect when I read a book especially by and Independent Author for how much work goes into a novel and when I read a review that attacks the author I try to remember that if you have never written a book then you can't possibly understand the vulnerability and humility it takes to do so and to put it out there for the world to see. I believe Indie Authors are the future in literature. There is so much raw talent out there that gets over looked by agents and publishers who are in a hurry to find the next best seller. When you download an Indie Authors book, I hope that you will think back on these words and smile knowing that the persons heart was poured into the pages and it was done knowing they wouldn't become rich from it, they probably wouldn't become a New Your Times bestseller, they might not even sell more than a few dozen copies, but to have one person read their book. To have one person be affected by their words is enough. That is the heart of the Indie Author.

Thank you so much for your time, 
Quinn Loftis

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Exciting News!

I have some exciting news. If you missed it, I've been working on a WIP titled STEEL LILY. I actually posted a short teaser from it in this post on my personal blog, so if you're curious, go check it out! :) Well, I'm excited to say that Steel Lily landed me an agent!!! ::does a happy dance::

I am officially represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management! ::throws confetti::

When I tweeted about it, I had a friend ask if I would blog about it. While I hadn't planned on it, it seemed like a good idea, so here we are. :)

When I started querying, I had a friend of mine go over my query with me. She helped me make it shine. When we were finished, I thought we had put together a pretty darn good query...definitely the best one I've submitted with. So, with much trepidation, I hit the "send" button to agents. But this time, unlike the others, I only queried agents I *knew* were people I liked. People I knew would be great to work with, had qualities I wanted, and that were well versed in the literary world.

I thought it'd take a while to get bites, but thankfully, I was wrong. I queried Lauren on April 12th, and got a request for the full the same day. I was beyond thrilled! I also got other requests (8 total, I believe) for fulls as well, so I was pretty excited!

Then came the first email. The agent was VERY excited about my book, but wanted some revisions. I agreed with them, so I set to doing them. I got a couple declines, and then it came.

"The Call."

I missed it, because my phone was on silent.


I checked my voicemail and there it was, Lauren Hammond telling me she wanted to talk about representing Steel Lily. I squealed. I scared my 9 month old child with my giddiness.

And I called her back. :)

We talked for quite a while, and it was great to chat and hear her vision for Steel Lily, as well as get to know her style as an agent. I got off the phone wanting to tell her yes, but wanting to give the other agents time to read, as well as sleep on the decision. (ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS give the other agents that have your MS time to read. It's just the nice thing to do. If you physically/emotionally/mentally cannot do that, then at least email them and tell them you're pulling it from consideration. Don't waste their time by having them read something they won't even be able to acquire if they do like it.)

We agreed we'd reconvene in two weeks. I notified all the agents that still had my MS. But...I started to really look into Lauren's other clients. Talked to a few of them. They were all super positive about their experiences, and Lauren's deals on Publisher's Marketplace made me confident in her abilities (ALWAYS check your agents on PM. If they're not recording deals, then will they be able to land one for you??). I talked to my husband, my writer friends, heck, even non-writer friends about it. I really liked what I was seeing, but I thought I should wait.

I made it through the weekend.

After an email came from an agent who declined, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had told my husband I was going to feel bad having to tell them no, because I wanted Lauren. He looked at me, with all his sensibility (God love him), and said, "If you know who you want, then why don't you just accept her offer?"

Made sense to me.

So I emailed the remaining agents and let them know that I was going to accept Lauren's offer. I couldn't wait. I knew who I wanted.

I called Lauren, we chatted, and I said "HECK YEAH I WANNA BE ON TEAM HAMMOND!"

Or something of that derivative. :)

So that's my story. I'm thrilled to have Lauren as an agent, and I can't wait to see what she does with Steel Lily. Hopefully in the future I'll be able to tell you that it has a home, and you'll be able to pick it up in a bookstore near you!

As for any writers that may be reading who are still looking for an agent, don't give up. It only takes one yes. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Interview with Inara Scott


Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Inara Scott
Hello Inara and welcome to The Writers Voice!

Who reads your manuscripts before you submit them?

My husband reads everything I write. He used to be a middle school teacher, and is now a principal, so he really connects well with kids' brains, and is amazing at giving me feedback. I have a critique partner, who writes adult romance, and she is my sounding board for plotting and always one of the first to see my work. After it gets through these people, it goes to my agent.

Do you have a day job? Do you hope that writing will be your full time career in the future?

Right now, writing is my full time job!

What are you working on now?

Revising a new YA, which is a paranormal thriller. I'm also thing about the third book in my Delcroix series. I will probably be writing that next!

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?

Twitter. Ice cream. Butterscotch chips. Biting my fingernails. (I have lots!)

Where do you do your best writing? Do you like to have certain surroundings?

I write best early in the morning when there's no distractions. A cup of coffee (lots of cream and sugar) enhances my mood. :) Sometimes I turn off my wifi to force myself off the Internet. This definitely helps my focus.

If you could live in one book for a day, what would it be?

Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey. I desperately wish I could imprint a dragon.

To all our readers out there, thank you for following The Writers Voice and happy reading!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My first novella!

I'm celebrating a new release this week! I'm excited about it because it brings back characters I love and also it's the first novella I've ever written.

Overtime is the continuation of the story from my book Troy High. Ever since Troy High was first published three years ago, I've gotten lots of emails from readers asking what happens after that story ends. Do the couples formed in that book stay together? Is Hunter ever able to play football again? Does Lucas ever get over Elena? Is anyone ever punished for the prank war?

So I decided to write a story that reunites the Trojans and Spartans once more and helps answer these questions. The dedication for the novella says, "To everyone who asked for more stories about Cassie, Greg, Elena, and the others--this one's for you!" And it really is a story I wrote just for my readers. Thank you to everyone who told me how much they enjoyed Troy High and asked for more to the story. I had SO much fun bringing Cassie and Greg and everyone else to life again. I have to say that Lucas was my favorite to write about in this book. He has all the best lines and he's so devious. I think the characters grow up a lot in this story and I enjoyed seeing how the events between the schools have changed them.

Here is the summary of Overtime:

Five months ago, the epic rivalry between the Trojans and Spartans ended in flames. Now the two schools exist in an uneasy ceasefire as a community event threatens to push them over the edge.

Cassie Prince just wants to focus on her new relationship. But is happiness possible in a place where loyalties run deep?

If you enjoyed Troy High, I hope you'll check out Overtime. It's available now in ebook format and is a very low price for a limited time. You can find out more and where to buy it on my website. You can also check out Troy High on my website too if you haven't read it yet and buy it either in print, ebook, or audiobook format.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Remembering Why We Write

I try to attend a writer's conference every three to six months.Writing is a lonely venture. Just me and these imaginary people who talk to me sometimes. I spend most of each day seated behind my desk, typing on my computer. It's a life I love, but I need to get out every now and again, and conferences provide that opportunity.

While the food is usually mediocre and the strange hotel beds creak in ways that wake me early, the workshops and the networking opportunities provide me with a bit of oomph. That is, I come away with  a nugget or two that will help me in either my craft or the business side of being a writer. And sometimes I come away with a bit more--with a reminder of why I write in the first place. (Hint: it's not for the book signings, lovely as they are.)

The SCBWI  Oregon spring conference I attended this past weekend was one of those that gave me "a bit more" and will no doubt be helpful the next time I question why I do this crazy art-making called novel writing.

Two different editors said things that really struck me.

First, Melissa Manlove, editor at Chronicle Books (check 'em out here) addressed her passion to create books that will resonate with young readers who have, perhaps, never experienced that magic which lies inside a book. She pointed out that it only takes one book for a non-reader to become a reader and that everything changes for the child who makes this transition. "Once you become a reader, it will change your whole life," said Manlove. Um. Wow. Yes. I might have cried a little when she said this. It's why I write. Because reading changes your life.

Next, Andrew Karre, editorial director of Carolrhoda Books, Carolrhoda Lab, and Darby Creek, issued a prescriptive for writers of young adult fiction. He insisted YA writers shouldn't write for teens. Rather, we should think of ourselves as writing about teens. Now, the difference is subtle, and may even seem to fly in the face of what I found so moving about Manlove's observation that books change lives.

As I thought through the apparent conflict between the two most moving things I heard at the conference, I began to see ways in which the two ideas co-exist. You see, a writer's job isn't to figure out how to write that book that will change someone's life. Rather, the ability of a book to affect someone (even profoundly) is an outgrowth--a side effect, if you will--of writing. The calling of a writer is to make the best art he or she can. If, each time I sat down at the keyboard, I asked myself the question: how can I change the life of a teenager through what I write, I would simply freeze. That is too weighty a calling, too large a task, and quite honestly, it's out of my control. But I can tell the kind of story I like and write it to the best of my ability; those tasks falls within the pale of "things I control."

And so, with the awareness that books can change lives and the awareness that I write about and not for teens, I'm inspired to sit down today and not rise until I've put in my 2,000 words, telling the best story I can. How about you? What inspires you to sit down and write?

Cidney Swanson is the author of the RIPPLE trilogy about a girl who turns invisible, the boy she's crushing on, and the neo-Nazi geneticist after them both. You can visit her at and
read a sample here

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's About Who (and What) You Know + BECOMING Giveaway

Along with fellow YA authors Tiffany King and C.A. Kunz, I recently had the pleasure of speaking to the students of Deltona Middle School and University High School about what it's like to be an author. We explained that some of us work full-time jobs and still manage successful writing careers, and we encouraged the students to write in their spare time if they had any interest at all. We also discussed the ins and outs of self-publishing and what that means versus being a traditionally published author.

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:

Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.

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!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Interview with T. K. Richardson


Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
T. K. Richardson
Hello T. K. and welcome to The Writers Voice!

Have you ever cut a scene out of one of your novels that you wanted to keep? Why did you do it? Can you tell us about it?

Yes, I did have to cut several scenes from Return the Heart because the word count was too high. Also the scenes I cut didn’t help the plot move forward. One of my favorite scenes did, however, reveal in more detail the relationship between all five of the characters. It was such a fun scene, too. They were in the kitchen making strange smoothie creations. It was so fun, but I did have to cut it. Still sometimes I’ll read over it and wish there was a way I could have kept it.

What was the trigger for your last novel? Your aha moment that sprouted its idea?

Well, my latest novel continues the series. Shield the Heart follows Return the Heart and I just love this novel for so many reasons. I hope fans of Return the Heart love it as much as I do.

Is there one novel in your life you love to re-read? Do you continue to learn from it every time you re-read it?

Yes, the one novel I re-read over and over is War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Every time I read it it’s like another layer is peeled away and I’m able to see it even more clearly. Whether it’s a character’s motives, the descriptive scenery, or dialog – it reveals itself more and more with each reading.

How do you know that your plot will hold the weight of your novel? Do you write more plots that novels then pick and choose?

Honestly, I don’t even think about it. I don’t outline or plan the story ahead of time. I let the characters develop the story, plot, etc. and it comes together naturally. I don’t think about craft as I’m writing, either. When the first draft is finished I walk away from it for a while and let it simmer. Later, during the multiple rounds of editing I apply the polish. So far, this has worked for me.

Is the way you structure your novels a choice or does it come to you organically?

It definitely comes organically. I’d love to be able to sit and plot or outline a story, but it never works. I just let the characters come to me and do what would come naturally for them. It’s not always what I would like them to do, but it’s what they would do. I think it makes the story and the characters more real, or more alive.

Have you ever used or gotten ideas for dialog from conversations you have overheard or had with others?

No, not really. Sometimes, though, I’ll hear a name, or read about a far off place and ideas come to me. Many character and story ideas come to me when I travel, too. For instance, I was flying out of Charlotte, North Carolina over the summer. It was completely dark outside and when I looked out over the city the lights far below me looked just like shimmering candles floating in a dark pond. The sweetest idea for a fairytale emerged and I’ve toyed with it ever since. So, yeah, things like that happen all the time. I just wish there was more time in each day to write it all down.

To all our readers out there, thank you for following The Writers Voice and happy reading!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Interview with Courtney K. Walker


Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Courtney K. Walker
Hello Courtney and welcome to The Writers Voice!

What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write?

The ending. Many books start off really strong and then sort of fizzle out at the end. I wrote and re-wrote and edited the ending so many times, trying to get it just right. The initial ending really stunk (and I'll never ever say what it was!).

What scares you most?

About writing, or life in general? Loud noises scare me every day. With writing, I am scared of rejection and criticism, even though I know it’s a vital part of the process. I’m also scared of losing whatever it is that keeps me wanting to write every day. In life, I’m scared of uncertainty, of losing control, of not recognizing happiness while I have it in my hands.

Do you start writing when you have a plot mapped out or start plotting when you have started writing based off a spark of inspiration?

 Inspiration is how I roll. I don’t even have a schedule for when I clean my house; I just attack whatever is bugging me at the moment, and before I know it six hours have gone by and I’m somewhere in the storage room organizing cans and boxes of cereal. With writing, I’ll often have a thought or a dream, and then I just go from there. It’s more fun that way…sort of like an adventure where you have no idea how long it will last or what you’ll come across along the way. I LOVE it! Of course, the problem comes when I’ve exhausted that initial energy and don’t know where to go next. THAT’s when the plotting comes into play.

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you? 

Absolutely. The moment when Claire and Daniel became real, when I realized that all I’d created in my head had found its way into the mind and heart of someone other than me.

Aspiring writers often hear, "Read what you want to write," "Hone your writing craft." and, above all else, "Be patient." What other advice would you give them?

All of the above. Also, for novelists: If you don’t love what you’re writing, STOP. And start all over. You write your best when it means something more to you than just trying to get to the finish line.

Is there rhyme and reason to how you choose character traits?

I know this makes no sense (which I guess means there isn’t a rhyme or reason), but it starts with a picture of them in my head, and then that character sort-of reveals themselves to me as the story progresses. That’s probably pretty typical for authors, I would imagine, or else it would all be too formulaic.

To all our readers out there, thank you for following The Writers Voice and happy reading!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to stay relevant & Johnny Depp (yeah, I said JD) GIVEAWAY

How to Stay Relevant  & Johnny Depp GIVEAWAY

How to stay relevant in 2012.  Writing books for young adults is hard to do when you aren't a young adult. Look at Johnny Depp, he is 49 this year and teenagers still love him (as well as those of us that have loved him since 1989). He is beyond awesome and hot, he is cool.  He not only dresses young, he takes the kind of parts that appeal to women of every age and he stays mysterious.  He only takes roles that appeal to his inner artist and passes on things that he doesn't feel are right for his career.  He doesn't do interviews often, and he keeps his private life...private.  He didn't start that way, he had to get out there and sell himself.  He was an easy sell (obviously).  We should all tap into our inner artist and bring forth our teenager and our teenage idol.

As a writer, mysterious is cool for people like Stephen King and JK Rowling, but chances are you aren't as well known...yet.  I'm closer in age to Johnny Depp (in the same decade) than I am with Taylor Swift, giving me a disadvantage.   I have to remember that teens want to absorb everything they can about a character, the writer behind the character, and the story line.  Novellas are a great way to get a quick story out about a character that readers are wanting to know more about.  It will keep your book alive while you write the next novel in the series.  Check out what people like Kelley Armstrong or Julie Kagawa are doing on their websites.  They are great at keeping their audience up to date and they are amazing writers.  You don't have to do every interview that is requested of you, and you don't have to tell the world your business.

If you don't have a handle on the whole 'social networking' ask someone to do it for you.  I'm sure you have a family member that adores the fact that you're a writer and they would be honored to help you.  Don't be afraid to ask.  My son has 14,000 followers on Twitter... I ask him to retweet my tweets all of the time.  It takes him about thirty seconds to complete the request and I have touched more potential readers.

Until the day I'm able to be mysterious - I'll continue to be eccentric.  Now for the giveaway -

1 reader will get a 9x11 poster of Dark Shadows starring Johnny Depp & 1 e-book The Light Tamer (shameless, aren't I)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interview With Victoria Simcox

Have you ever gotten an idea for a book or part of one of your novels from something or somewhere unexpected?

I would have to say that most of my ideas are unexpected. I rarely plan too far in advance what I'm going to write. My ideas come to me as I write.

Did you always know you would write a novel? Why did you finally decide to write one and when?

Though I've always been creative, mostly in painting watercolors, I didn't think I would be a writer. It was actually a vision of my story I had while sitting in a movie theater watching a flick the inspired me to start. I only saw the first scene of my story, probably half a page of writing.  Then when I started writing the story, it just started flowing to me.

What are five things that are must haves when you are writing?

 My computer or lap top, peace and quiet, contentment, relaxation, and sometimes a cup of coffee. Though I've written with a lack of all of these at times, these are what make writing most enjoyable.

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally?

C.S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. As a preteen these stories were so magical to me, and I used to wish I could go to Narnia like the Pevensie siblings did.

What is the hardest emotion for you to convey?

 Hmm ... that's a tricky one. Probably being too serious; I love humor in all situations, so I have to be careful with that.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

I'm blessed with an awesome family. My three children are very talented. The oldest two are musicians and the youngest a dancer. Also, my only daughter and I are pretty much best friends.

Which came first for you--the characters, the idea for the setting, or the plot?

… Another tricky one; I'll go with the characters. But even though I think of them before I write about them, I don't put too much thought into them until I actually start writing about them. Then they come to life on their own. Actually, that's why I love to write; I feel like I'm being led by my characters, getting to know their personalities as I'm writing. Seeing them doing what their doing as they do it. Though of course there are times I'll say "Nah … that isn't working," and then I edit. :)

Check out Victoria's personal blog @

Monday, May 14, 2012

Life of an Author = Roller-coaster

Have you ever heard that life is like a roller-coaster, full of ups and downs, twist and turns? I know I have, and it’s a line I’ve come to grasp at its core as a writer, because the career/ life of an author is exactly like a roller-coaster.
Let me explain, first of all, with my overactive imagination, when someone offers insight like the line above, I literally see a roller-coaster and establish a connection with the experience I’m going through. Think back to the first time you stepped foot on a roller-coaster, more than likely it was right after you reached the appropriate height for the ride that the ‘big kids’ were riding. You were at the theme park to have fun, make memories, and in someway explore. How do I relate this to writing? Most authors have lived a little before they begin to write, you have to, I’m not talking about traveling the world or climbing Mount Everest, you just have to ‘feel’ what you are writing, and the soul of any story is the emotions behind the characters, no matter how paranormal or set in reality it may be. Living a little may just mean that you have felt, or endured a relationship like your characters. So, a new writer has now reached the appropriate ‘height’, or life experience to begin this ride.

As a young child you sit in your seat and the harness comes down over you and locks in place, noticing that the harness is a few inches above your shoulders, you may doubt that you really are big enough for this ride. In the life of a writer, it’s the same way, it's not hard to believe that the shoes you have just put on are a little too big for you to fill, which is completely normal, novels were among the first forms of entertainment, therefore, great writers have been around for centuries. 
On your first ride on this roller-coaster the friends that have come along with you distract you from any fears that you may fall out of this machine, by laughing, talking to you about how excited they are, they make you feel like you can ride this ride, not once, but a thousand times, and you relax into your seat, trusting that this is going to be the most amazing thing that you do that day, or have done so far in your life. In writing it’s the same way, once you announce your commitment, you will notice an excitement in the ones around you, the pride that lingers in their eyes when you speak of the story you are creating...adrenaline becomes a part of your daily diet, your story chases you every second of your life, even into your dreams.
After all the rules are clearly explained by the attendant the ride begins, the wind whisks through your hair as the ride gains speed, your heart races with excitement, you keep saying “I can’t believe I’m doing this - ME - I’m doing this”. Which is how a writer feels when a wondering daydream begins to shape into a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Then, as any exhilarating ride would have, a climb begins, shifting you back in your seat, allowing you only to see the clear sky above you. At this point for a writer, even though your body is feeding you adrenaline, causing your heart to race, you’ve relaxed into your place, you are going through the climb every writer must make, completing the final stages of your novel, the dreaded polishing stage, the final edits, creating a summary, a cover, reaching out to bloggers, and literary peers, all the while, with a pounding heart, your wondering what is going to happen when you reach the peak of this climb.
All rides are different, much like the careers of writers, the ride may reach the peak only to twist and turn hundreds of feet above the ground, or it may race back to the earth only to jolt you up into the sky again. No matter the ride, you feel your insides shifting with the velocity of the ride, your shoulders will slam into the harness as your world is flipped upside down, you will find yourself going through every emotion from terror to exhilaration, at times laughing, others screaming.
Every novel I have released has taken me on a different ride, sometimes there are dramatic down falls, and exhilarating lifts. Those falls maybe those silent days when you don’t hear from a reader, or come across someone who is not your biggest fan, the uplifts are when you feel like you could have written a book about the ABC’s and conquered the world, simply because everywhere you glance you see a mention of the fictional people you have created. You maybe thinking that this is how as a writer I associate this career, in that one ride, but the truth is this is just the public side of writing, the points where as writers and readers we cheer each other on, and if a fall comes we reach out and pick each other up, and in the end smile and say “do you want to ride it again?” then race to find yourself in a long line of people who are waiting for this adrenaline filled experience, but the private side to this career is another ride, one that carries the same emotions, but on a more personal level.

When I begin a story, I begin a ride. I’ve pulled ideas into a daydream and have an notion of where I’m going, and I’m prepared for my characters to surprise me with their ups and downs, I am the story. I may be looking you in the eye, talking about the latest events in the media, but in my mind, I’m in another world, a world of my own, waiting for the next chapter to unfold before my eyes, living in a constant state of excitement. When the story is written, complete, even if I’m consumed with the marketing of my past novels, or preparing the last novel I’d written for publication, inside, I’m craving one more ride, one more story, one more escape that will take me on the ride of my life, through emotions I would only dare to feel in my own life, through scenarios that are so unreal that they feel real to me. 

The biggest down by far are those places in between novels, when your looking for a different ‘ride’ a new source of adrenaline. For me, those points have never lasted more than a few weeks, but man, those are some long days, days where you run out of closets to clean out, social posts you could make, where you have caught up on everything in your life, and realize how long a twenty-four hour period is.....I despise that time!

I’m just overcoming one of those periods, and now I hear my characters calling my name to give them my full attention again. At this point when I’m beginning a story I’m grateful that ‘THE VOICES ARE BACK’, but at the same time I fear that next bridge, space between my novels. 

Out of everything I have learned in this career one thing has really stayed with me, the higher the high, the lower the low...meaning enjoy cloud nine while your on it, bask in it, soak it up, so when the fall comes, the low, you remember that emotion and you fight to get it back, and the next time you fight to get higher. It doesn't matter if your stories go as far as your dreams envisioned that they would, all the matters is grasping that next daydream, corralling all your emotions into your core, and writing as fast as your fingers will allow you to, I could not imagine a more powerful addiction than this career.
Writing is like a roller coaster, and it’s an exhilarating  life, one that I would not trade for any other career.
Writers do you agree? Readers are there points in your life when you have chased a feeling like this?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Guest Post by Chris Karlsen

Transporting a reader

One of the best compliments a writer can get from a reader is: “I felt so close to the characters, I could hear their voices in my head,” or “I didn’t want the story to end.” When you’ve touched someone in that way with your words, you feel on top of the world. It makes all the rejection letters you received, all the hours spent struggling through a scene and the days where you can’t seem to string two sentences together worthwhile.

As story tellers, we strive to take the reader on a journey with us, to let us transport them to a different world. For me, my first novel, “Heroes Live Forever,” was a love story involving a mortal and a ghost. Does the reader have to believe in ghosts when they open the book to the first page? No. But as a writer, I would ask to let me weave this romance in a way that while you read those three-hundred plus pages, you start to believe. You want to believe.

In “Heroes Live Forever,” there’s a scene that made me choke up a little when I wrote it. A long, well-established author friend read the scene. This was before I belonged to a critique group and I needed feedback. My friend smiled at me when she finished and said, “You made me cry and I never cry reading books.” That made my day. Later, I joined a critique group who read the entire manuscript. They loved the humorous scenes and character’s lines. And every smiley emoticon they added gave me another shot of encouragement.

A man stood a few feet away. At least what was visible looked like a man. He appeared to be a knight, similar to the one in her favorite painting, except semi-transparent. He wore mail and a dark blue surcoat with a leopard embroidered on it in bronze silk. Tall, with shoulder length hair, in the soft lamplight, his eyes were as black as his hair.



In the sequel, “Journey in Time,” the hero and heroine are caught in a time portal while horseback riding and sent back to the 14th century. Does the reader need to believe in time-travel? Again, no. Is time-travel possible? Well, no one has done it yet—that we know of. But who’s to say it isn’t going to be possible someday?

Even if the reader doesn’t truly believe in time-travel, most have fun speculating whether they’d like to go back in time or forward in time. I get to elaborate on what might happen if they found themselves in England in the year 1355. I like to recreate the world through the senses. What the characters see, hear, smell, touch and taste becomes this different world for the reader. How the characters react makes you want to turn the page. Through the written word, I can put the question in the reader’s mind: What would I do?

It’s great to take a question you’ve given the reader and then keep throwing in twists and turns. It’s not simply a matter of what would I do without: running water, electricity, modern medicine, the list goes on and on. The medieval period, as times are now, was fraught with dangers, made far worse through superstition and political intrigue. To be fair to the time and place, memorable characters and beautiful settings can color those twists and turns.

“Alex, what is going on?” she asked in a frenzied whisper.
“Shh.” After they mounted, Alex sidled over, so close their boots touched. “We’re riding into a very perilous situation. I’ll explain everything when we’re alone. Your life, my life,” he stressed, “depends on you being quiet until then.”
Confused, it took Shakira a few seconds before she nodded yes.
“Remember what I told you,” he warned and trotted ahead to chat with a knight he called Simon.


There’s a scene in “Journey in Time,” where Shakira is fighting off an attacker. A reviewer for Romance Radio Network, Desmond Haas, told me when he got to that scene he didn’t want to read more (it’s a fairly graphic scene) “but couldn’t stop reading.” What wonderful words to hear for an author. I was able to transport at least one person that day to a world I created. As a story teller, what more can I ask?

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Guest Post with Bethany Lopez (Confidence... it will come!)

Confidence… it will come!

Hello! I am Bethany Lopez, and I write a Contemporary Young Adult Series called Stories about Melissa. The first book Ta Ta for Now! is available now, and the second book, xoxoxo, will be released on March 2nd.

I did not always believe that I would be able to make that statement. Yes, I have always loved to write, and English was my favorite subject in school, but my self-confidence was not always there.

I was the quiet girl in school, at least to the majority of students… the people that did not know me. To my friends, however, I was loud, crazy, and always making them laugh. It took a lot for me to be able to open up to others. I moved around a lot growing up and was constantly having to make new friends. I was very aware of being the new girl, or the odd one out, and that had a lot to do with the way I presented myself to others. I had a huge fear of rejection, and that played a big part in my disbelief that I could ever be an Author.

When I was in high school, I loved getting the opportunity to write for my classes. I tried writing a few stories, and still have them in the garage, but I never believed they were good enough. I would write a story for a while, but eventually would just give up. It took years before I started to build confidence. As I started to meet more of my personal and professional goals, like earning my first Associates Degree, raising kids, and getting promoted at work, my confidence began to build. As I began to mature, I started to approach every new person I met as if we were already friends. It helped me to be myself from the first meeting and break the ice.

Being self-confident doesn’t mean that I don’t still get my feelings hurt, that is just part of life, but I am better able to overcome those feelings and focus on the positive.

The point that I want to make is that no matter how hard things seem… they will always get better. Other people’s opinions can hurt, but the only opinions that matter are those of the people that know you and love you for who you are!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Young Adult Paranormal Romance- 
What's up with that?

I wrote an article not too long ago on why I chose to write about were-wolves. Out of all the other paranormal, supernatural species, I chose were-wolves. I wrote it because I was asked that question a lot. Today I had a lady who I was talking with about my books ask me why do I write YA Paranormal Romance books. I smiled and said, "I'm glad you asked". What did I tell her? Let me share it with you.
            First and foremost I love the supernatural and paranormal. It's interesting, it's the unknown. The things that go bump in the night and things that are just beyond fantastical are exciting to me. I like being able to step into a world that has nothing to do with the one I live in. Don't get me wrong, I love my life. God has blessed me immensely, but he also gave us imagination and how fun it is to use it. To be able to create a world that could never exist. But if it could anything I imagine could be a part of that world. Vampires, Were-Wolves, Fae, Djinn, Mermaids, Giants, Witches, Wizards on and on we could go. The characters are only part of the paranormal world. The atmosphere, the lay of the land, the vegetation, the water all of these things can be altered, built on in the paranormal realm.
            Second I love the young adult genre' because these books still for the most part leave something to the imagination. There is an innocence about them that makes them even more appealing. The characters, though at times have been dealt difficult cards or go through difficult things in the story, aren't jaded. Their relationships as intense but pure. The love that can be built into them is strong and real and something we all have longed for at one time in our lives. There is still a level of sensuality to the relationships but it's done with class and kept sacred.  I think that young adult characters are fun to write because they are still maturing and growing into who they will be.
            Lastly, the romance. Why not just YA Paranormal? Well, like any little girl, or any teenage girl I too at one time wanted my knight in shining armor. God has blessed me with my hero and I've been blessed to be married to him for over 12 years now. There are ones out there that are still waiting for theirs, who still want to believe that unconditional love does exist. The truth about romance in real life- it's messy, it's hard, it's often times the first thing to go in a long term relationship. Romance is important, it's important to a relationship that is growing into something serious. A writer can take the YA romance genre' and help girls see that you shouldn't settle for something just because it's good. There should be a spark, something that you can't explain that starts in your toes and works its way up to the tips of your hair. Will a real life relationship be like in a book, no, we wouldn't read them if they were. But I feel like with the romance in my books I can help others see that you don't have to settle, you can choose to be selfless and love the other person through thick and thin. I can use it to show girls how they should be treated by a guy who truly cares for them. And I hope that I encourage them to take the physical aspect of the relationship very seriously. A relationship goes to a whole new place once that line is crossed. I don't try to push my beliefs on others through my books, but I do try to make it clear through the characters experiences how important it is to think about the consequences of physical intimacy.
            Now, did I really give that poor lady this long explanation…no. But I gave her a very condensed version. I really enjoy the genre' I write about. I love reading the other YAPR books by other indie authors. I think it's a really fun genre' and look forward to hopefully writing many more books to add to its already growing numbers.

~Quinn Loftis

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Insurgent, & Why I Love It

So, I try not to fangirl too much, but I have to say it: I *LOVE* Veronica Roth's Divergent & Insurgent. They have captivated me unlike many other books, where I can sit them down and be okay with it. Veronica Roth, however, is mean.

You heard me, she's mean.

She won't let me stop reading her books!

I'm telling you, at least for me, her writing DEMANDS to be read. You can't quit turning the pages, because you're desperate to know what happens. Even in the non-action areas of the book, you're gripped. She won't take no for an answer, and you'll be loving every moment of the book.

And that, my friends, is what I aspire to become. An author that demands the pages of her books be read; that readers can't help but to continue on.

I think it's what every writer wants. If we didn't, then why would we write? But what I want to point out, is that if we want to become better writers, we have to do our homework. I love how agent Russell Galen put it (I'm paraphrasing, because unfortunately I can't find the exact quote): "Like a book? Read it once, but then take out your highlighter and re-read it, pointing out where you felt emotions and WHY you felt them." In my mind, Galen is a genius of an agent. He understands that we as writers have to hone our craft. We can't just "read for enjoyment," although I don't think that reading and enjoying it is a bad thing! Don't misinterpret me. What I'm saying is this: we need to be learning, growing, and becoming more adept at our craft by reading and researching.

For me, I write YA. Therefore, I need to be an expert in the YA genre. There's more to YA than Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Twilight. Sure, they're great series and yes, I've read them all, but to truly succeed in ANY arena in life, we must become experts. Reading and becoming well versed in the publishing industry is a natural step to becoming a better writer.

So tell me, folks, what/who do you read to become a better writer? For me, I love to read Cassandra Clare and JK Rowling books to pick apart why they're so great - why I enjoy them so much. Veronica Roth is quickly becoming another. I study Publisher's Marketplace like it's going out of style. What do you guys do? Any tricks to the trade you care to share? Post them in the comments! And of course, go get Insurgent and read it yourself. You won't be disappointed. :)

Happy Reading, everyone!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Musical creativity

At the last school visit I did recently, I was asked to give advice on how to get started developing a story idea. Basically, what's the first thing I do when I decide to write an idea? And I felt kind of silly, because the first thing I do isn't writing, it's listening.

If you visit my website, you'll see that on each of the pages for my books I have a playlist included. These are the songs I first listened to when I started working on each book. They do grow over time. Sometimes I'll remove songs from the list if a certain part of the story changes between the original idea and the final product. Sometimes I add new songs in during revisions. But I always go through my iPod and find songs that speak to me in some way for this story.

For example, my book Surfacing is about loneliness and recovery after a huge loss. When I first got the idea for the story, I searched for songs that fit that tone I wanted. Most of the songs on Surfacing's playlist reflect this somber, detached mood: "The Sound of White" by Missy Higgins, "Go" by Hanson, "From Where You Are" by Lifehouse, "Please Do Not Let Me Go" by Ryan Adams, "Name" by The Goo Goo Dolls.

On the other hand, Troy High, a modern day retelling of the Trojan War, includes a lot of action with pranks between the two schools in the story and so its playlist has a completely different tone. "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, "I Think I'm Paranoid" by Garbage, "Vindicated" by Dashboard Confessional, "Local God" by Everclear, among others.

Writing is very visual for me. I find pictures of people who look like my characters so I can keep their images in front of me while writing about them. I collect pictures of the area where my stories take place, and even pictures of homes that look like the ones my characters live in. Music is a visual aide for me because it helps me to fully imagine the scenes in my head. Sometimes if I'm stuck in a certain place, all it takes is for me to listen to that book's playlist to get the scenes in my mind. I can't listen to the music while I'm actually writing because I find it too distracting, but I do listen to the playlists a lot while brainstorming and especially when I'm first imagining the plot and characters.

I know I'm not alone in this! I've seen several other writers include playlists on their sites. What about you? Do you use music to help in your writing? Or for readers, do you find that certain songs remind you of books you love?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Read a Book, Feed the Kids

I'm very excited to announce a week of royalties donated to one of my favorite charities: Feeding America. As my readers know, the teens in my books eat--a lot. But not all children are so lucky, and Feeding America provides food for those who would otherwise go hungry.

From now until May 12, I'll be donating the proceeds from the 9.99 sale of my trilogy set (about $7) to feed kids.

Get all three books of the top-rated Ripple trilogy, together in one volume, featuring bonus content—Will’s Killer Pizza Recipe in a letter to Sam! Contemporary fantasy with adventure, mystery, a little romance, and unforgettable characters. These books have gathered over 175 Amazon reviews, averaging 4.7 stars - discover what you've missed!

Please visit to buy a copy for yourself, a mom in your life, or a friend--a week or so of reading for you, two weeks of food for a child in need.

Thank you so much.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Guest Post from Alexandra Lanc

Waiting For “When” By Alexandra Lanc

For an author, there is nothing more exciting than seeing a finished product -- that small, little button online that says “purchase”, that shiny new paperback with your name on it -- but when the thrill of finally releasing your work for readers to devour loses its high, it can sometimes be hard to find the strength to keep your optimism up.

Are you wondering what I’m talking about? I’m referring to that moment in all author’s lives where something horrible happens -- when there are no sales, and no reviews.

We all have rough days. It’s a part of life, and it’s definitely a part of writing, and is quite possibly worse than editing or re-writing. But when sales are bad, and reviews are scarce, it’s often hard to remember why we started writing in the first place. We begin to wonder if anyone is reading, if our work is any good, or if we should just give up. And when we try and explain to others where our frustration spawns from, they simply say “Don’t worry, things will get better. Your sales will go up. Just give it time”, and we become frustrated all over again (unless, of course, the person you’re venting to is an author as well, in which case they know exactly how you feel).

When sales are bad, we all look for an easy alternative -- a sale on our poorly-selling book, or some free copies to reviewers -- and while these things can be good, often they don’t help as much as we would like -- because, face it, we all want our books to be bestsellers, at the top of the charts, made into films. And if we don’t want that, we at least want someone to love our stories as much as we do.

But it’s in times like this that I believe we have a choice. We can either let the sales frustrate us, or we can move onto something else, and make the best of what we’ve been given. Because I believe that every story has someone who will love it -- and that person may not find your story today, and they may not find it tomorrow, but eventually, they will find it, and then will be able to share it with others who will love it just as much as they do.

In the “modern” world, it’s often hard to remember that nothing happens overnight, and that if it does, it didn’t really happen overnight, but simply seems like it did. Things take time, and the more time spent on a project means it will only be better. So though waiting for “when” -- when your book will be read, when your sales will go up, when stars will be added along with reviews, when you’ll get that new idea -- can be frustrating and even heartbreaking at times, in the end, waiting is worth it, because when we wait, great things are bound to happen.

So if you’re stuck in the middle of frustration, and are waiting for something to happen -- be it that book deal you’ve been dreaming of, that feedback from readers that you’re craving, or that boost in numbers that will make your heart sing -- don’t stop waiting, because, more than likely...your time is just around the corner, waiting for you just as you’ve been waiting for it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dragonswood (Signed) by Janet Lee Carey GIVEAWAY!

A big thank you to Janet Lee Carey for the opportunity to host this giveaway for Dragonswood!

Wilde Island is not at peace. The kingdom mourns the dead Pendragon king and awaits the return of his heir; the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is strained; and the regent is funding a bloodthirsty witch hunt, hoping to rid the island of half-fey maidens.

Tess, daughter of a blacksmith, has visions of the future, but she still doesn't expect to be accused of witchcraft, forced to flee with her two best friends, or offered shelter by the handsome and enigmatic Garth Huntsman, a warden for Dragonswood. But Garth is the younger prince in disguise and Tess soon learns that her true father was fey, making them the center of an exciting, romantic adventure, and an ancient prophecy that will bring about peace between all three races - dragon, human, and fairy.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shameless Self-Promotion (Hey, If I Don't Do It, No One Will!)

Many people seem to think that writing a book is the hardest part about being a published author. Au contraire. I would argue that it's probably the easiest!

Let's think about this for a minute. Imagine you get this grand idea to produce glowing widgets. Would you then single-handedly design the widget, identify and purchase all of the needed parts, assemble those parts, develop a sales and marketing plan, find the perfect consumer base, sell the product, manage the expenses and income resulting from the burgeoning widget boom, and handle all P.R. and management decisions--all while developing the design for the next, new-and-improved widget for which you'll then do all of the above again?

Okay, okay. You can stop laughing now.

What I've just described above, by and large, is the lot of an author, especially an author who's just getting started. Over time, if you're an indie author like me, you "outsource" a number of tasks (editing, cover design, book trailer creation, etc.) to free you up to write your next book. One task that most typically remains the author's responsibility, however, is marketing.

This, my friends, is the hardest part about being an author. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we're selling ourselves (okay, part of ourselves) every time we put one of our books on the market. There's no getting around it, though. Even traditional publishers have largely backed out of extending marketing dollars to unproven authors, leaving them to fend for themselves.

As a result, authors need to make use of every possible avenue to promote their books...which brings me to the main point of this post: my new book, Defy (Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy). Released on Monday, April 30th, Defy ushers in the next generation and a new class of Estilorians, the Kynzesti. I'll leave you with the book blurb and a trailer to help pique your interest, and thank you profusely for indulging me in this bout of shameless self-promotion!

Defy (Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy)

Seventeen-year-old Tate is about to make her parents’ dreams come true. Unfortunately for her, their dreams foretell her death.

Eager to explore more of the Estilorian plane and prove her abilities, Tate goes against her parents’ wishes and leaves the area of protection surrounding her home. Her choice puts her on a deadly path…one that leaves her alone, severely injured and battling for her life.

Her possible savior arrives in the form of Zachariah, a male who has removed himself from Estilorian society for more than fifty years. Fighting an unexpected connection to Tate, he must decide whether saving her life is worth destroying his.

As Tate struggles to find a way home, she ends up drawn into a dark Mercesti plot involving multiple murders and a powerful ancient artifact. With the unpredictable Zachariah as her only source for aid, she’ll soon find out if her abilities are strong enough to help her defy her Fate.

Defy Trailer by Flatline Films

Where to purchase Defy: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Smashwords