Sunday, February 24, 2013

Recovering the Muse and Surviving a Delayed Book Release

Hello Writerly Friends & Readers,

Book delays. They happen to all authors at some point in their careers. I know it has happened to me before. In January of this year, life decided to throw some punches at me that I didn’t see coming. My mom was hospitalized, car woes had me down, and then I wound up being hospitalized for a short time earlier this month. Those events were enough to throw me fully off the writing track. And then my muse decided she couldn’t handle the stress either. So she locked herself up in her little apartment and told me to give her a call when things calm down.

While I was in the hospital, I kept thinking: “Aw man, my readers are going to be so upset that I have to delay this super hyped buzz book”. It’s called the Prelude, my first time dabbling in a full blown romance with no supernatural anything. I mean, I’m already nervous as all heck about this release, and now I have to tell my street team that it’s going to be delayed by a month. They’re probably going to send the firing squad out after me, aren't they? Wrong! Instead, the opposite happened.

On the day before I headed out to the hospital, I posted a note to my readers saying that I’ll be offline for an extended period of time. When I returned online a week and a half later, I found all sorts of well wishes posted on all of my online homes. The world understood that life happens. Sometimes books actually get delayed.

As an indie author, I know how tough it can be to meet a deadline. It’s even worse when writer’s block sneaks into the picture on top everything else. But what I’ve learned from this experience is that it’s best to take care of your health, your family, and your friends when the need arises. The world will understand. And the muse will feel even more amused when she doesn’t feel pressured to deliver fresh prose while she’s stressed out. This is the way of thinking I’ve adopted. I only hope that it helps you out as well.

Yours in Prose,
KaSonndra Leigh

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Writer's Conduct

The Writer’s Conduct

When I was still writing my debut novel Dehumanized, I was following a few of my favorite authors on Facebook and was mostly observing how they conduct themselves in their posts. Most of them were professional, only posted things that pertained to the topic of their books, and barely ever said something of their personal value. I thought to myself that that’s how I have to act as well once I was published. I needed to be mature, PG-13, and to the point. Like a businessman who was attending a meeting. And for a short while after Dehumanized went live I did just that. I only posted when necessary, on Facebook or Twitter, and never spoke out about the non-book related things in my life. I figured that’s what we do once published, be professional and all that. Well, I was wrong.
Well, not wrong per se. When it comes to the stories you got to promote and be professional about it, but there’s no need to be all stick-up-the-rear all the time. Once Dehumanized was out there I started connecting more with other writers, people who I now call friends, and saw that they weren’t all business all the time. They talked about their personal lives, made jokes, spoke their minds about movies that they didn’t like, and really were just themselves. So I finally learned that even though I had this book out I could still be myself. I could still make jokes, still shoot with my friends in the comments on one of my or their statuses, and most importantly just be myself.
What’s the point of following an author you like if all they do is post once a week reminding you to buy their books? You want to know who that person is, want to know the voice of the words you read so fervently, and just what makes us freaks tweak.
So now if I have something to say I say it. I try to not go crazy, of course, but if I find something amusing or entertaining I share it.
Here’s an example of the kinds of things I like to share with my followers/friends-

(Scene from Supernatural. This is an actual scene. It’s hysterical.)

So if you’re a writer, don’t think you need to act a certain way because of it. Just be yourself. It’s hella more fun!
-Michael Loring
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Friend me on my personal Facebook!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is in the air

Ah, Valentine's Day. The day of love and romance and pink hearts. Actually, even though I'm pretty sappy about romance, I'm not really big on Valentine's Day. My husband and I already exchanged gifts a couple weeks ago, and we probably won't go out to eat until tomorrow since it's hard for us to go out on a Thursday with his schedule.

But I am still just a little bit sappy about it, so today in honor of Valentine's Day, I'm sharing the "first kiss" scene from my book Shifting (Swans Landing #2.5), which will be published on February 25th.

 Excerpted from Shifting (Swans Landing #2.5)

I licked my lips, which had gone dry. “What do you want?” I asked again.

“To figure something out,” she whispered.

She bridged the space between us, raising herself on tiptoe. Her face moved closer, a small fraction of an inch as each second passed until finally, her lips pressed against mine.

She was soft and warm and the smell of her perfume seemed to wrap around us. My hands moved on their own, resting on the curve of her hips, steadying her as she leaned into me. Her hand on my chest moved upward until her fingers threaded through the ponytail at the back of my neck while her other hand slipped around my waist, pressing against my back.

Before this moment, I had kissed two girls in my life. But Sailor and Mara were both finfolk. I had never kissed a human girl before. She tasted earthy, not like the salty tinge of a finfolk kiss. Her kiss made me think of sunshine on meadows, open fields of earth I had never seen except in pictures.

“Hmm,” she said as she stepped back, breaking the kiss.

My mind reeled with the effects of her kiss. It took every bit of restraint I had not to pull her to me again. I wanted that closeness, the feel of someone next to me, the touch of her skin against mine. I wanted earth and sky and sun.

“What?” I asked, my voice cracking.

“You taste like the ocean, Fish Boy.” She ran her fingers through my ponytail again, tugging on the ends of my hair. “See you around.”

I was unable to do anything except watch as she stepped out from under the stairs, walking back toward the road in front of Moody’s, her hips swaying casually as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

You can find out more about Shifting and the rest of the Swans Landing series on my website.

How do you feel about Valentine's Day? Love it, hate it, over it? How do you characters feel about it?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Adult Books: Do They Have to be Graphic?

About a month ago, I participated in a literary event at a local middle school with several other Young Adult authors. While we were killing time between classes, we discussed our current and future projects. One of the authors mentioned that she intends to write a New Adult novel, but she isn't sure how comfortable she'll be while writing scenes with graphic sexual content.

I can empathize. Well, let me rephrase: I also have concerns about writing scenes with graphic sexual content. It isn't that I'm uncomfortable doing so. Actually, I wrote adult romances before I decided to write YA. The issue is that my brand is a YA brand. Many readers of all ages contact me and express how much they love the fact that my books feature romance and sensuality without being too graphic.

That being said, I told the other authors that I wouldn't write a NA book. I wasn't going to risk alienating my core audience by writing a book featuring scenes that might make them uncomfortable. Like this other author, I had come to associate New Adult books with those that depict graphic sex.

I've since learned that this isn't necessarily the case. NA is a genre that bridges the gap between late teens and mid-twenties, a period when many young people are just figuring out how to be adults. Yes, this period of time often encompasses exploring one's sexuality, but it also includes topics such as learning how to balance school, a social life and a career, living on one's own for the first time, becoming of legal age to drink alcohol, and similar topics. Also, the treatment of these elements (how graphic they are) varies by author.

About two weeks ago, I realized I was going to write a NA standalone novel. No one could have been more surprised. I had started working on another YA series and had gotten as far as drafting character sketches and doing some world-building. But there were these two characters in my head telling me that I had to write their story, and it's going to be a contemporary NA romance...without graphic sex.

I turn to you, readers, and ask if you feel NA books have to include graphic sex to compete with other books in this genre, or if you feel books that "fade to black" when things get hot and steamy are as satisfying to read. Inquiring minds want to know!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Interview with Victoria Simcox

What gave you the idea for a fantasy book like The Magic Warble and The Black Shard?

I remember I was sitting in the movie theater watching the first Harry Potter movie when I envisioned my main character, Kristina, walking down a snowy sidewalk. At the time that was all of story I had. I went home that night and wrote my first page not knowing where the story would go.

If/When you have writers block what do you do?

I used to get writer's block, but then I realized it came to me when I got too stressed out and felt like I was pressured to write. I had to remind myself why I started writing to begin with—because I enjoyed it, not because I had to; then I relaxed. If you are an aspiring author and going through writer's block and feeling like there's nothing you can come up with to write about, or your imagination has run dry, then take a day off—go see a flick, or do something you enjoy to relax. You'll be surprised how ideas come to you when you're in a happy relaxed state of mind.

Are some characters harder to write than others?

No, I have a vivid picture of my characters in my head which makes it not to difficult for me to form their personalities. I think I draw a lot from people in my life. But I create a character from different character traits of more than 1 person.

If you could meet any person dead or alive...who would it be?

C.S Lewis: His Chronicles of Narnia have been such an inspiration to me. It would be so cool, say for instance, to have lunch with him and pick his brain on how he came up with his beloved stories.

What do you prefer coffee, tea, soda, water...

I prefer coffee to tea and I admit I'm pretty religious about having my coffee each morning and afternoon. I try not to drink soda other than when I go out to eat or to a movie, then I always have a diet coke. Eight glasses of water is my daily goal though I rarely meet that goal it's more like 4 if that.


 Check out Victoria's personal blog @

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Interview with Samantha Young

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

What would you like for readers to take away from your novel/novels?

Over and above anything else I want to have entertained my readers. I want them to have escaped from their lives for a while – to have felt as if they had been taken on an adventure, where they experienced everything my characters felt.

Do you feel that aspiring writers should start out by writing what they know?

I think that’s a difficult question to answer because I write paranormal fiction. The first novel I completed is about a war between supernatural races. I know nothing about being a wolf or a witch… But then I do know about feeling different, about grief, about friendship, about love… I think it’s about finding a balance between writing what you know and having the ability to put yourself into a situation and draw on what you think you would feel if ‘this’ ever happened to you.

How do the novels you write differ from the novels you enjoy reading?

Lol they don’t. I love reading paranormal and fantasy fiction, adult or young adult. I’m also a huge dystopian and science-fiction fan.

If you could choose any part of the world to live in for just one year, where would you go and why?

I’d love to live in Boston for a year. I’ve actually toyed with the idea of taking off to Massachusetts for a few months. I’ve always wanted to live in the US for a while. I like Seattle or Boston, but Boston is winning me over because I have a few friends from the East Coast and it doesn’t seem such a huge transition from Scotland to Boston as other areas of the US might.

What are your biggest concerns about people around the world currently?

Actually my biggest concerns are closer to home. It makes me sound so old when I’m only twenty five but I’ve been shocked by the younger generation in Britain over the last few years, especially during the London Riots – I was appalled and ashamed of them. There seems to be an attitude of expectation from some British youth, as if they have a right to luxury just because they breathe. Some of them need to be reminded that there are children who don’t have basic necessities in life. Oh… and it would be nice if more of them would pick up a book… that might help educate them on how much better off they compare to many children across the globe. Note that I know this is not all kids – I’ve been travelling around schools in Scotland doing Creative Writing workshops and a lot of these kids are book enthusiasts and so clever!

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

Friday, February 1, 2013

Interview with Kelly Creagh!

Please give a warm welcome to our guest author of the day
Kelly Creagh

What would you like for readers to take away from your novel/novels?

Most of all, I want readers to walk away from the Nevermore trilogy with a new perspective. Whenever I start out writing a book, I never sit down and ask myself what’s the message. I let the story tell me as I go. And I think with Nevermore, the message is about looking past the masks we show the world, and the identities and social roles we hide behind. Isobel, my main character, is a cheerleader. But there’s so much more to her than being blond and athletic. Varen is a goth, but what he shows the world in his grim exterior is just an exoskeleton. Nevermore takes stereotypes and flips them. So, more than anything, I want to leave readers with a new depth of perception regarding the people in their world—those that they know well, and strangers they see at a glance. Also, if readers happen to come away with a deeper appreciation for Edgar Allan Poe, the man and his works, I’d be very pleased with that as well! ;)

When you were growing up, what did you want to be?

She-Ra, Princess of Power. Then it was a baker. As a kid, I remember going to Win-Dixie with my mom and, while she shopped in the deli area, I would watch the bakers decorate cakes. I still love baking and pastry decorating today. Often, when I get stuck or I’m caught in a rut with my writing, I’ll bake cupcakes or cookies. I decorate them and send them off with one or more of my brothers. And if I wasn’t a writer, I think I’d love to open up a sweet shop! Actually, “Dessert Island,” the name of the shop where Varen works, was a name I was holding onto for that exact reason. As I grew older, I wanted to become an actress, and I went to a performing arts school in high school and got my undergrad degree in theatre as well. I feel as if my training in theatre has equipped me well for writing, particularly in composing dialogue.

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

My greatest joy as a writer is interacting directly with readers. I love speaking to young adults in schools and at signings. Their enthusiasm for my work is my greatest reward. The knowledge that I’m able to touch someone’s heart with my stories is why I do what I do, and what I work and strive for. As a personal standard, I remind myself daily that my readers are my priority. It’s the best feeling in the world to reach someone through my art. There isn’t a big specific moment that comes to mind, but lots of little encounters and run-ins that add up to a great feeling of personal satisfaction.

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

There are two. The first book that I fell deeply in love with was Phantom, by Susan Kay. I was seventeen when I read it, and I think I devoured it in a day. I have a vivid memory of having to leave the book to sit down to family dinner, and then rushing back to its pages directly after. That book still stands today as my all-time favorite. The second is The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. This book was recommended to me by a friend while I was having a tough time with my writing. I’ve since read the book a number of times and I recommend it to everyone who is pursuing an artistic life.

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

All of my friends know this about me, of course, but I think it’s less well known among readers and the blog-sphere. I’m a professional bellydancer and instructor. Middle Eastern dance is a huge passion in my life and I love sharing this amazing art form with others. I also love educating audiences about the dance, and have high esteem for professional dance troupes like The Bellydance Superstars and The Indigo. My two favorite dancers are Delilah and the incredible Zoe Jakes.

If you could have any extraordinary gift or super power what would it be and why?

I would love to have the ability to go back and visit myself during key points in my life. If I could zip back to certain points to have a quick and encouraging chat with myself, I think that would be a very valuable power indeed. That said, I do realize that, typically, in fiction and movies, this never tends to end too well, does it? Interruption of the space time continuum and all that…

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?

Gah. I’ll often get caught up in the details of my research. A Google search often becomes a wild goose-chase. Lately, I have learned to turn the need for distraction into useful action. For example, if I have to step back from the work, something like painting a room can help me chill my mind out. Anything that involves repetition, like beading or sewing or driving or baking can help me achieve a sort of meditation and, while I’m concentrated on these tasks, answers come. Television is a big distraction for me, which is exactly why I don’t have it. I’ll watch a single show on my computer sometimes for a break, or I’ll go to my parent’s house to catch some Duck Dynasty or Say Yes to the Dress (Bridesmaids.) Those shows have an element of ridiculousness to them that I absolutely love, and laughing and gasping in shock at them is a great stress reliever, too!

Thank you Kelly for joining us today on The Writers Voice!