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Author Spotlight: T.L. McDonald

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An Interview with T.L. McDonald

By: Michelle Lynn

What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

I have three books out right now in a completed trilogy, The Marked Series. The first book is titled Marked, followed by Fated, and Redemption. My series is a young adult urban fantasy about a 17-year-old girl who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and inadvertently gets caught up in a prophesy foretelling the start of the apocalypse at the hands of a chosen one with dual fates. He’ll either become the world’s savior, or it’s destroyer, but which path he takes will be directly influenced by the choices she makes.

Who’s your favorite character from your books?

Of course I love my main three characters Hanna, Jared, and Will, but I have to admit—and maybe this is bad—but Blondie, the villain of the story just might be my favorite. He was just so much fun to write.

Your debut series is a paranormal of epic proportions with all of the markedexciting staples of the genre. What was the most difficult aspect of writing in a genre that is so incredibly popular right now?

Being unique. There’s a lot of things the paranormal genre has in common, a formula so to speak, and I wanted to try my hand at being a little different, which I hope I accomplished. Instead of dreamy fallen angels the main character falls in love with, mine are malicious and sinister. Instead of my main character discovering she has supernatural abilities and that she’s been different all along without knowing it, her abilities come from a transference of power when she’s marked with a mystical symbol by a dying boy in a side alley outside a club.

Cliff Hangers. We love to hate them, but YA fiction has embraced them completely. Did you worry about how readers would react when your first book ended this way? Was there a strategy to the madness?

I did, but I had hope and crossed my fingers that it would be a good reaction, lol. Personally, I love a good cliffhanger because it makes me excited to read the next book in the series and that was my goal for my readers. I wanted the book to stick with them. I wanted them to shout out, “Oh my, I have got to find out what happens next.”

In Marked, it seems like secrets are the name of the game. Everyone has them and they drive the story, but you managed to reveal them slowly as the book progressed so as not to overload the reader. Can you tell us something about untangling such a web? How do you make a complicated story simple for the reader?

Raw talent. Ha ha. Just kidding. An outline or a general sense of your beginning and ending is the most important thing. Though I’m usually not one to have a detailed outline because I like the story to progress naturally, I did keep notes—mostly in the form of sticky notes plastered all over my work area—to help keep track of things. I wanted the book to feel organic and grow so to speak, so it was important to reveal things slowly just like how it would be revealed in real life because if everything is laid out all up front, it would make for a very boring book. I wanted the reader to become just as invested as the main character was in figuring out what was going on.

What authors have inspired you to write?

R.L. Stine was the first author that inspired me. I’ve always loved the horror genre and I used to gobble up his Fear Street books like they were candy. I used to read them and think Someday I’m going to do this. Tahereh Mafi also inspired me. I read her Shatter Me series and completely fell in love with the style, so much so that I completely rewrote Marked, changing it from 3rd person past tense to 1st person present tense.

What age were you when you started writing?

I was young, like somewhere between 6 and 8 years old. Of course back then my stories were barely legible and made no sense, and were always of the horror genre. I’ve still got them tucked away in a box somewhere. It’s fun to go back and look at them every now and then. After that, it’s all I ever wanted to do and I’d write every chance I got, whether it was for my friends or to fill out a journal in English class, which I did by the way in high school. We were supposed to turn in two pages every week, writing about whatever we wanted, so I wrote a book. J

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Yep. I think at some point every writer does. The trick is to just push though it and write even if it’s terrible because you can always go back and fix it during the editing stage. It also helps to find things that inspire you to get the creative juices flowing again, such as listening to music and allowing yourself to daydream, reading a book from your favorite author or genre, watching an addicting TV show, and what if-ing everything. Inspiration can be found everywhere.

Marked book cover symbol

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I like to just write. It feels more natural to me to just let the ideas come as they may. I do however keep notes—on my phone, scraps of paper I find at the bottom of my purse, napkins at a restaurant, on an obscene amount of sticky notes—because I tend to come up with ideas for scenes on the fly and at all hours of the day. The books I write are constantly percolating in the back of my mind with new ideas and directions forming, so I don’t want to be restrained by the traditional sense of an outline.

Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

Actually, I kind of do. When you spend months or years writing your characters they become a part of you, so when you reach the end of the series it sort of feels like you’re moving away and leaving all your friends behind.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

My biggest challenge was pushing the submit button. Sure, I’ve wrote things before that I’ve shared with my friends and family, but this was going to be for the whole world to see. It made me nervous. Of course I ran into other challenges too because I’m a little impulsive and jumped right into the publishing lake without testing the depths of the water first. One of those challenges being the marketing side of things: covers, blurbs, graphics for ads, and so on. There’s just so much to learn, but it’s so worth it if you get to do what you love.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

If I could change anything it would be working on the editing portion a bit more with Marked before I submitted. Like I’d said in an earlier question, I tend to be a bit impulsive, and I was just so excited and nervous, but mostly excited to get it out there…typos and all. I’ve since re-edited and re-submitted, but my future goal from now on is to have all the I’s dotted and the t’s crossed before I submit. We all live and learn.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

I’m still in the beginning stages, but I can say it will be a young adult urban fantasy with touches of horror and that the main character will be a hybrid whose blood will have some very unique qualities to it.

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What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

 

The toughest criticism would probably have to do with my grammar skills…or lack thereof. Commas and I sort of have a love / hate relationship with one another. But as I said before, we live and we learn, and I’d like to thing that commas and I are becoming fast friends. Some of the best compliments I’ve gotten has to be when a reader said my books were just as good as Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments books—which happens to be one of my favorite series—and another said they loved them just as much as Stephanie Myers Twilight series—which I also love. I also had a reader love my series so much they tattooed Hanna’s symbol (from the original cover of Marked) onto their arm.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

My advice would be to have a good support team in place. The writing part is easy; it’s everything else like marketing, for example that can be daunting. Luckily, there are some fabulous Facebook groups out there where you can connect with other authors who are more than willing to help you out and give you feedback. I belong to a few of them and I have to say, I’ve learned a lot.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I don’t know if it’s strange or not, but I have to have music playing whenever I write. Some people may find that distracting, but I find it inspiring. For me, the music adds to the atmosphere of the world I’m creating.

What others are saying about T.L. McDonald:

“The author does a great job of weaving a vivid tale filled with twists and turns and creating characters that are truly relatable.”

“MARKED is a rollercoaster ride of mystery mixed with the classic YA elements we all know and love, and it sets up perfectly for the next installment in the series.”

“I found the story entertaining and I wanted to read about the characters. I cared about them and I wanted to find out what the mystery was. The author did a good job in creating tension and keeping the mystery interesting for the reader.”


You can find T.L. McDonald at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE!

You can find her on Facebook HERE!

She’s on Goodreads HERE!

Don’t forget to check out some other posts on our blog HERE!

Author Spotlight: Rebecca Jaycox

rebeccaAn Interview with Rebecca Jaycox

By: Michelle Lynn

What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

I’ve written the first two books of my planned trilogy, “The Inheritance Series.” The first book is “The Other Inheritance,” and the second book is “The Other Queen.” The books are about seventeen-year-old Reggie Lange, who longs to be a normal girl but discovers she has extraordinary powers. The awesome book description says it better than I could.

otherOne girl. Two worlds. Hunted in both.

Seventeen-year-old Reggie Lang is used to dealing with her alcoholic mother and fighting school bullies, but fate has thrown her a curve ball.
A biker dude shows up in her dreams, babbling about magic and a world called the Other. As the incidents keep piling up—like bringing a frog back to life in class—Reggie has to confront the mounting evidence that she’s not the normal girl she craves to be.
Reggie’s life is changing, and she has no idea why. Or whether she should believe the man in her dreams, who claims she’s in danger and that only he can keep her safe. But if there’s one thing Reggie will learn, nowhere is safe.

Who’s your favorite character from your books?

Brwyn, my Elf Changeling. He’s fun, powerful, and sexy. He wasn’t created until the third draft, but I’m so glad I went with my gut.

Fantasy is an exciting, but incredibly challenging genre to write in. What made you choose it to start your writing career?

It chose me. I discovered Star Wars at age 10 and never looked back. I might try contemporary fiction one day, but right now I’m sold on fantasy.

In The Other Inheritance, you’ve created an entirely new world full of magic and also a lot of danger. Can you tell us a little about your world building process?

When I start to write, I sketch out a rough outline of my world and then when I dig into the chapters I start filling in the details. Since my world is magicpunk, I like to look at steampunk images for inspiration.

What was your biggest challenge in writing a story that takes place in a world entirely of your own making?

Keeping track of the details! To make a complete world, you have to have rules and then keep track of those rules.

What authors have inspired you to write?

Some of my favorite genre authors are Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, and Maggie Stiefvater. They write such exciting urban fantasy and fantasy fiction, and I try to measure up to their talents. I haven’t quite gotten there, but they are definitely writers I aspire to be.

What age were you when you started writing?

Ten.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Yes! It’s the worst. I can’t write and then I feel guilty about it. Talk about a vicious cycle.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I usually have a rough outline to start with that gives me the freedom to be a pantser a little during the process.

Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

Sure. I’d love to get a drink with Brywn.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

“The Other Queen” just came out on April 1. It’s the second book in my “Inheritance” the other queenseries, and I’m very excited about it.

One world. Two girls. An evil determined to destroy them both.
Reggie has escaped the dark mage, Andrius, and finally made it to her guardian, Rhys. But if she thought things would be easier, fate has other plans.
Her father’s situation is more dire than she first thought, and she learns her mother and best friend are being held hostage by Andrius.
Her dreams are being haunted by the Black Queen, a bizarre, terrified girl begging for Reggie to save her. With her loved ones’ lives hanging in the balance, Reggie and her friends race to devise a plan to defeat Andrius. And the Black Queen could provide the key to breaking the dark mage’s hold on the Other.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Never give up. It will happen. And always try to improve your craft. Find a writing group and listen.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Um, I can no longer write on my computer. I wrote my latest release “The Other Queen” by hand.

What others are saying about Rebecca Jaycox:

“The excitement and the danger at every turn. It doesn’t let up. I love these kinds of stories- full of magic and adventure. Ms. Jaycox does a brilliant job of including the mystical element without making the book too fantastical and unreal.”

“This book is amazing. It is great to see a female like Reggie who is strong and brave and doesn’t need a man. The character and world building are just amazing.”

“Jaycox’s writing flows effortlessly and draws you completely into the story. Her descriptive passages make you feel as if you are actually in this ‘Other’ world. There was never a dull moment. Chase scenes, magic battles, and hateful evil villains. What more could you ask for?”


You can find more about Rebecca Jaycox at her YAAR page HERE.

Find her on Goodreads HERE.

Find her on Facebook HERE.

Don’t forget to check out more of the blog posts and interviews from YAAR HERE.

Author Spotlight

An interview with author Paul Mosier

By: Michelle Lynn

  1. What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

Completed novels begin with Breakfast At Tuli’s, which I self-published in I think 2013. paulIt’s for grown-ups, and about a young woman with a compulsion to have relations with men she finds pathetic or repulsive. It’s narrated by her pet fish, who is in love with her and who is grappling with the hopelessness of his own situation while waiting for Tuli to find happiness. It’s very sweet when you get past the premise. My second novel is called Genre, but I haven’t done anything with it. It examines the origin of characters and the author’s ability to control them while poking fun at writers, writer’s groups, agents and genre fiction. The third is the first I wrote for a younger audience, and is called Story Girl. It is in some ways a young person’s version of Genre, but they are two different stories for sure. In fact 25 year old Shawnee encounters 13 year old Shawnee in a scene that appears in both books. It was right for those stories. Though Tuli and 25 year old Shawnee appear in each others stories in a scene that appears in both Genre and BAT. That was fun. I self-published Story Girl and had the first proof copy delivered to our hotel in Santa Monica for my older daughter’s 11th birthday. The next novel, Train I Ride, is also for younger readers, middle-grade specifically. It’s about a girl who turns 13 while riding a train from Los Angeles to Chicago, and who has nobody in the world but the strangers she meets on the train. Then since this book found me an agent and my agent found me a book deal, I am continuing to write middle grade, which I am happy to do! My next book should be out May 2018, and the one I am wrapping up now May of 2019.

2. Who’s your favorite character from your books?

I feel so much love for the characters in my stories. But since I also believe that happy is the writer whose favorite story is the one he is working on today, I’ll say Summer from Summer and July, the novel which will hopefully be an executed option for a third book from HarperCollins. Summer is a prototypical California Girl who is adventurous and apparently carefree, and who is viewed through the adoring eyes of a girl named Juillet, a gothic girl filled with fake phobias who is visiting Summer’s neighborhood in Santa Monica for the month of July. It’s hard for me not to adore Summer when I’m seeing her as Juillet sees her.

3. In each of your books, your protagonist is a middle-school girl. Can you tell us about the reasons behind that?

storyThe protags of my first two books were women in their 20’s, which is an age that I have some distance and perspective of. I first wrote a novel for younger readers specifically so my older daughter could read me before she aged into the first two I wrote, and I found it really satisfying. It was the novel Junonia by Kevin Henkes that made me feel I could write for 10, 11, or 12 year old kids with an emotional depth that would be satisfying. I should have known before then but I didn’t read much as a kid. Having girls who are now 8 and 13 puts me into their perspectives, and girls have always been more interesting to me than boys. Now that I have a contract that is specifically middle grade, the age is a must, and though I tumble boy characters in my mind, my protagonists always seem to end up as girls.

4. You’re a writer and a father of two girls. How does each of those aspects of your life affect the other?

Being able to share my work with my daughters is really satisfying. My older daughter Eleri in part inspired Maggie from Story Girl. They are big readers, and I think they think it’s pretty cool that I write. Making most of my livelihood as a writer gives me a lot of flexibility, which is a wonderful thing when you love your children and want to be around them. They enrich my life and give me a greater understanding of childhood, though I also remember it awfully well.

5. Were there alternate endings to Train I Ride that you considered?

My editor wanted to see what happened when the train arrives in Chicago. I felt like the ending I wrote was among the best things I could ever write, so I gave her what she wanted by having Rydr’s chaperone rehearse with her what she will be doing, so we see it without ever having to get there. But more to the point, I think, is that I knew that if she was met at the station by a rich uncle it would make the story meaningless and be a great disservice to the many, many children who have lives that resemble Rydr’s. I asked friends who are social workers what happens to a girl in Rydr’s circumstances, and the answers were heartbreaking. Where does she go? The answer is, does anyone want her? Is there a friend whose parents will take her in? Yet I think it ends on an up note. Not because of what she gets, but because of who she has become.

6. What authors have inspired you to write?

I feel like I am more directly inspired by poets and lyricists. In the case of Train I Ride, Elvis Presley and Allen Ginsberg. I didn’t read a lot as a kid. I write more than I read today. I try to read really well when I do read. In the last year that has been Douglas Adams, Harper Lee, Miranda July, George Orwell, and of course my writer friends! But I don’t write because of a love of books or admiration of writers, but because the muse keeps knocking me up.

7. What age were you when you started writing?

I remember writing when I was very young. I asked my dad what I should write a story about when I was about 6, and he said “write about a boy who runs away to join the circus.” I thought that was a terrible idea and asked for a better one. But I paid homage to that moment in Story Girl, decades later. By fifth grade I was ignoring schoolwork during class to write stories to entertain my classmates. I wrote through high school, though my writing was derailed by my being a practicing alcoholic until I was nearly 25. I never write a novel until NaNoWriMo 2011, in the month I turned 47.

8. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Happily I haven’t experienced writer’s block much if ever. Maybe because I believe I paul 2don’t have to see past the hood ornament of the story I’m writing. The day I began Train I Ride I had been writing a memoir-ish thing, and I asked myself when I would have my next novel idea. That afternoon the lyric train I ride, sixteen coaches long entered my head. I thought it sounded like a good first line for a novel, but I didn’t know who said it, boy or girl, man or woman, why they were on the train and where they were going. But I wrote it down, and the rest followed. I think my own head has very little capacity, especially for vast stories. It’s preoccupied with bills and healthcare and that kind of thing. But the muse has a gigantic hard drive, and she knows I believe in her, so she believes in me.

9. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

Mainly I just write, like Dory. Or maybe its swimming that she just does. I end up outlining after I’m well into it, but I believe that if I outline a story before I am deeply involved with it, it can only deprive me of the surprises, the opportunities that may come without one. Outlines make the muse feel sketchy and unwanted.

10. Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

They aren’t? I guess I don’t really believe that they aren’t real. I do however feel such strong affection for them that I have felt sad at writing the last words, and a sense of duty to them– their entire life is the one that comes through my fingertips, and I want it to be as beautiful as possible. Or stand out of the way of their expressing their beauty. I feel like they’re just characters that the universe presents to me. I don’t create characters, I meet them. If I tried to create a character I think it would be a cliche.

11. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Breakfast at Tuli’s was a screenplay a few years before I tried to reverse adapt it for NaNoWriMo, which is kind of cheating versus those writing brand new ideas. At least it was my own screenplay, and it was substantially different in that I had to choose who tells the story, and decided upon Tuli’s pet fish, Fish, who is inert in the screenplay. It was a good choice. Then it’s all a challenge, Writing is difficult. Editing it at writer’s group. Having 110 agents say no to it– I think it’s a lovely book but it’s a bit strange. Making the physical book when I finally decided to was comparatively easy. I formerly made my living as a painter so I did the cover. Createspace has tools such that if one’s book looks terrible, there’s nobody but the author to blame. Maybe 200 people have read the book, but I’m very proud of it. Nobody forgets Tuli or Fish.

12. Most of the authors we interview on this blog are self-published or with small publishers, but you’re with HarperCollins. Can you tell us what it’s like to have such a big publishing house behind you?

Having self published I can tell you that it’s SO GREAT TO BE WITH HARPERCOLLINS. I feel very fortunate. The distribution is great– there’s like 20 copies at the library in Singapore. I went to the Powell’s in downtown Portland, where it was a staff pick, and signed the 14 or so copies they had. And then at their airport store in Portland. Having strangers throw back favorite lines to you on Goodreads. But the people at HarperCollins also make it a better book than what I could have done myself. My editorial group edits authors like Neil Gaiman. They’re very good at what they do. From my editor, to the line editor, and the typographer, who is responsible for the whole look of the book, under the jacket and on every page from front to back, and the cover artist, and the marketing people and publicity people, the school visits coordinator– they spend an average of 2000 hours on every book they do, which is considerably more than I did. And it’s everywhere. Because of who they are, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and everyone else reviews it. Happily all of the six most important reviewers gave it a positive review, three of them starred reviews. And money. An advance that made me consider quitting my job on the spot. So to summarize, IT FEELS AMAZING. I haven’t come down since my wonderful agent called me the morning of July 15, 2015. (takes sip of water.) I feel very lucky. Don’t wake me up.

13.  Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

The second book of my contract is another middle grade novel called Echo’s Sister. It’s paul2different for me in that it bears a strong resemblance to my actual life– it’s about a 12 year old girl whose little sister has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. This is what my family has been going through for the past year and the next year. It’s not our story, but it’s very much informed by it. I don’t think I would have ever been interested in writing about cancer because it sucks and because I’d be superstitious. I initially resisted when it played in my head like a novel, but I think it’s a mistake to refuse the muse. I knew I’d write a happy ending before I began. I finished it about 9 months ago but am wrapping up the edit this week. It’s been difficult for a lot of reasons, but I think it’s gonna be damn good.

14. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I don’t take criticism very badly. I usually think I’m right and the critic is wrong. I do take a lot of suggestions at writer’s group. But working with a Big 5 editor is a new experience. If you pay someone to edit your book you can fire them or ignore them, but when they pay you a ton of money to edit the book and try to make it the best book it can be, it’s different. As they say, you’re the writer, it’s your book, but it’s their money and their name on the jacket, too. And the editor will one day say “I published that book.” They don’t say “I edited it and HarperCollins published it.” A publishing house is filled with editors who publish books. The last thing I’ll say about criticism is that if you put a book out there, before you read reviews on Goodreads, look at the 1 and 2 star reviews of your favorite book ever. Look at the 20,000 people panning Catcher In The Rye. Then you can look at your first 2 star review and say another 19,999 and I’ll be as terrible as Salinger.

15. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

I won’t say read, read read, which I don’t think is valid advice. I’d say write, write, write. Show the scene playing in your head. Don’t think you need to see the whole thing before you begin. Trust the muse. Keep a journal. Carry it with you.

16. Do you have any strange writing habits?

Not really. I find that certain locations are better suited to it. My couch late at night. Certain coffeehouses and cafes but not others. I still use my journal to write about what I’m writing, but I can only write the prose on my MacBook Air. Every novel demands a novel approach to tackle the problems it presents. But generally it gets easier and I get better at it. Oh, I do find that I can only write successfully when the laptop is open, the power in on, and I am sitting at it. That is a bit odd I suppose.

What people are saying about Paul Mosier:

“Not afraid to delve into difficult subjects but also capable of showing optimism.”

“Mosier is quite respectful of his young audience. Sad. Funny. Moving. Complex.”

“Heartbreaking, funny, poetic, smart, and tough.”

Paul can be found on Facebook HERE!


Check out the YA Author Rendezvous new releases HERE. We have some great ones!

See our five steps to getting published HERE!

Check out the YA Author Rendezvous’ talented authors HERE!

Author Spotlight: Korey Ward

korey ward - authorInterview by T.D. Shields

An Interview with Korey Ward.

Tell us about you! Where are you from? What’s your family like? We want to know it all!

Well, I grew up in the small town of Flatwoods Ky. I was raised by my grandparents on my mother’s side. They took sole custody of me when I was about six, because I was in a really bad place at that time in my life. My father took off shortly after I was born, and my mother is an alcoholic who likes to throw wild parties. I could literarily write a book on all the things I’ve seen and experienced just with in the first 5 years of existence. And perhaps I will one day. I owe my whole life to my grandparents because without them I probably wouldn’t have one.

When and why did you begin writing?

My writing, I believe, was a progression of little ideas before I ever even dreamed of writing an entire novel. My first experience with writing, that wasn’t part of my schooling, was in the form of little poems that would pop into my head from time to time. Then after high school I formed a rock band called Fates Tragedy. We were together for about 8 years, and were becoming quite successful locally before we all went our separate ways. I wrote the majority of the lyrics for the band, which I found easy transitioning from poetry to structured lyrics. It wasn’t until after my daughter Zoey, was about 8 years old that I even thought about writing a book.  We were rather poor at the time and we couldn’t even afford cable and it was well before streaming services such as Netflix, so we started to buy a book or two a month and I would read it to my daughter, and even act it out occasionally. After reading the likes of the Grey Griffins series by : J. S. Lewis, and Derek Benz, someone suggested to me that I should write my own stories to read to Zoey since I had a vivid imagination. That is when I began writing the first lines to what would later become Rise of the Shadow Seekers. It wasn’t until years later that I buckled down and finished the book, due to my wife’s constant encouragement.

What books do you have published and where can we buy them?

I have two books published at this time. The first Being Rise of the Shadow Seekers: The First Seeker. It was published on November 3rd 2015 under Korey L. Ward. The second book is Strawberry Sorbet: A Noir, published on Valentine’s Day 2016, under my pen name, Landon Wake. You can find all of my books on amazon, BAM online, and Barnes and Noble online.

What project are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a psychological suspense thriller called G.P.S I can’t reveal any more details than that at this time, other than it will be published under my Landon Wake pen name. In case you were wondering, I use Korey L. Ward as my young adult/ kid friendly books, and Landon Wake as my more adult themed books.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing for me is the stick-to-itiveness. With life and work and family and just not being in the mood, gets in the way sometimes, but you just have to push through it.

What is the best thing about writing?

The best thing about writing to me, is that feeling of completion, and knowing that others will get the chance to hopefully enjoy the labor of my love.

Just for fun… If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

If I were a superhero, I would have the power to heal all diseases. If you really want to save someone I think that is the best place to start. Superman could catch a person falling from a tall building, wouldn’t be able to save that person from the cancer that will take their life next week.

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading Intensity by Dean Koontz right now.

Who are your favorite authors?

My favorite authors are the king himself Stephen King. Dean Koontz, Joe Hill, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. J. S Lewis, and Derek Benz.

Where can readers find you to say hello and keep up with your latest news and new releases?

You can find me at koreylward.com, Facebook, Twitter, and other various social media.

And finally, anything specific that you would like to say to our readers?

Yes, of course. I would love to thank you all for giving me a chance. I strive to entertain you all and poor my heart and soul into all of my books. I also have to give you props for actually reading to the end of this whole thing, Ha! Check you later.

Korey, out.

Author Spotlight: Christopher Mannino

Christopher ManninoInterview by Michelle Lynn 

  • Hey Christopher, thanks for doing this. We’re all pretty excited to learn more about the man behind the brilliant world of deaths, so let’s get started. First, can you tell us a little about your books?

 

School of Deaths and Sword of Deaths form the first two parts of a trilogy called The Scythe Wielder’s Secret. The final novel, Daughter of Deaths, will release in 2017. In School of Deaths, a young girl named Susan is pulled from her home in Maryland and brought to the College of Deaths, where she’s forced to train to become a Death, Reaping souls from the Mortal World to the Hereafter. She learns that she’s the first female Death in a million years, and faces sexism and bullying from all her peers. She eventually forms a group of close friends, and as the series progresses realizes that her presence in the World of Deaths is no accident. A war between the ancient original reapers, the Dragons, and the Deaths is about to erupt, and Susan’s right at the heart of the conflict. In Sword of Deaths, Susan and her friends find an ancient artifact that may help in the oncoming confrontation. In Daughter of Deaths, the Dragons attack, and Susan and her two closest friends undertake an epic journey across three worlds hoping to save the Deaths.

 

  • You’ve written some great character that people can really identify with. Who’s your favorite?

 

I really like Frank, and the arc his character goes through, progressing/maturing from the first book through the end of the series. I also intentionally paralleled Susan’s arc to Frank’s.

 

  • As a woman, I loved Suzie. Girl Power! She’s the lone girl character of any importance. As much of a dream as that would sound to most girls, I’m sure it created some problems or unique situations when writing? Can you tell me about that?

 

Yes! In the very earliest draft, the sexism wasn’t even an issue. The main character was Billy, and the College was co-ed. However, as I worked on the book, I wanted to increase the main character’s isolation, and that led me to realize that the overwhelming majority of grim reaper portrayals are either men, or are parodies. I wanted to make a female Death who wasn’t a parody, and was a strong heroine in her own right.
However, as a man, writing in a girl’s point of view, particularly a teenager’s, can be problematic. In one scene in book one, Susan has her first period. It’s an intentional scene, both in terms of the fact that it sets her apart, and also it serves as foreshadowing for several events. I wrote the scene, then gave it my wife to help me re-write it, and later had two female beta readers pay special attention to it, but I’ve still had students tell them that scene in particular made them a bit uncomfortable.

 

  • So, death, huh? Your characters are training to be grim reapers. Does spending so much time dwelling on death get exhausting?

 

Death’s the only absolute certainty in life. While the book has extremely dark undertones, I intentionally kept the tone light, particularly in the first two books. The focus in my series isn’t really the reapings or the occupation, it’s the world that the reapers live in. From a social justice perspective, the Deaths in the book are not the horrors, the sexism and racism are. For me, and for the characters, the focus is on what we can do in our lives, not a fear of what might happen after.

 

  • Personally, I love dragons. So, I was pretty psyched when I read your book and realized they were going to play a part. How do you find a new take on such a popular and often done creature?

 

I love dragons too, and it was fun to write about them. Especially in Daughter of Deaths, when we see the world of the Dragons up close, I think you’ll find extremely different dragons than usually appear in fantasy or elsewhere. For me, the series has an underlying theme of addressing sexism, bullying, and racism. As one of the races, Dragons became a non-homogeneous collective. I think too many stories lump all dragons together as being one certain way. I think each dragon would have its own issues and own society.

 

  • Were there alternate endings that you considered?

I always knew exactly how this series would end. However, without giving anything away about the end, all of the plot strings wrap up, but the door’s left open a crack.

 

  • These days, there are so many amazing books out there. What authors have inspired you to write?

 

My favorites growing up were Tolkien, Asimov, and Pratchett. They were my initial inspirations, joined later by authors such as Gaiman, Rowling, and Ken Follett.

 

  • What age were you when you started writing?

We were given an assignment to read three books, then pick an author of one of the three and copy their style. My three were: “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Mabinogion” (A Welsh myth cycle- I used the four book Evangeline Walton translation), and Robert Holdstock’s “The Hollowing.” This, while half the class chose “The Cat in the Hat” as one of their three. I ended up writing a short story in Tolkien’s style about the Ents searching for the Entwives. It was my first written story, and I’ve enjoyed writing ever since.

 

  • Do you ever experience writer’s block?

 

I honestly don’t believe in writer’s block. I have trouble progressing at times (extremely rarely), but since I get so little time to write regularly, I have to be efficient about my writing time. I don’t have time for writer’s block.

 

  • Do you work with an outline, or just write?

 

 

In the past, including for The Scythe Wielder’s Secret, I used what I called an image outline. I’d start with a concrete idea, and then develop a series of images. Many of the art pieces on my SITE are images from my image outline, that I later described to my cousin (the artist). I have vivid pictures in my mind, like photographs, and know I want them to be in the story, but don’t necessarily know how they’ll connect- I just write after that.

However, the more I write, the more that’s starting to change. I’ve been working on my current novel by outline sections of about six chapters at a time, still connecting the image outline, but less by the seat of my pants. At the same time, I’ve already started a detailed outline of the book I’ll write after that, including eleven pages of pure plot outline, and a thirty page glossary of places/characters. This is new for me, and we’ll see how it impacts the writing.

 

  • Our characters become like friends to us. Some of the time we spend more time with them than we do with the people in our lives. Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

 

But they are real. As long as we can imagine them, they’re real in a sense.

 

  • We all want the ability to do the extraordinary. Sometimes writing allows us to do just that. If you could have any power in real life, what would it be?

 

Shape-shifting! It covers most of the other powers I’d want, including flight.

 

  • If you could have any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

 

Indian

 

  • Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

 

I did not want to self publish. I queried hundreds of agents and publishers, before eventually finding the publisher who printed the book. It took me about a year to find a publisher, and then another year to go through the editing process.

 

  • If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

 

I’ve learned a lot about both writing and publishing since my first book came out, and definitely feel that I’ve grown as an author significantly. There is a sport called boskery that appears in the first two books. While I do think it adds to the novels, I’m not sure I would include it at all if I was to write them over again.

 

  • Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

 

Two years ago, Susan Sarnio was brought to the World of Deaths.

Fighting sexism and bullying, the first female Death helped reinvent the College.

Now, her friends journey deep into the heart of enemy territory, hoping to rescue her. Ancient secrets come to light. The horrifying truth behind Susan’s arrival in the World of Deaths is at last revealed. War erupts between Dragons and Deaths, and the fate of three worlds hangs in the balance.  Daughter of Deaths, the epic conclusion to The Scythe Wielder’s Secret releases in 2017.

The final novel in the trilogy is told from the same three points of view as book two. The series has now moved completely from light fantasy (Harry Potter/Percy Jackson style) to epic fantasy (Lord of the Rings/Eragon style). There’s a lot that happens in book three, and the end just may shock you.

 

  • Criticism can be the hardest part of being an author. How do you deal with it?

 

It hurts, but you move on, and focus on the positive acclaim you’ve gotten. In the end, I write because I have stories to tell. Not everyone will want to hear them, but the stories still need to be told.

 

  • There has never been a better time to be a writer. The publishing world is wide open and more books are being published than ever before. Do you have any advice to give to writers thinking about jumping in to this crazy world?

 

Never give up.

 

  • Do you have any strange writing habits?

 

I like to write with Pandora on- I play film scores, or trailer music such as Audiomachine.

 

  • And finally, for some fun – Dogs or Cats?

 

BOTH- although I only really like cat sized dogs. (I have a shih tzu)

 

  • What is your biggest fear?

 

That someday I’ll meet Susan on one of her colleagues for real. J

 

Thanks for joining us, Christopher.

 

Don’t forget to check out the exciting world of deaths in The Scythe Wielder’s Secret!

 

An Interview with Author Michelle Lynn

Interview by Bethany Wicker

It’s time for another author spotlight! Up this week is Michelle Lynn, author of four of my favorite books. Time to learn more about her.

 

So, you have four published books. What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

 

I do! The Dawn of Rebellion trilogy is a dystopian story about two sisters trying to find their way in a desperate future. The US has long since been destroyed and is now controlled by different factions. The UK controls Florida with their slave camps. When Gabby, the older sister, is taken to one of these camps, Dawn must do everything she can to save her. What she finds in this strange land is not what she expected.

 

Choices is quite a bit different. It’s a contemporary romance, but its message is deeper than a simple love story. It’s really about breaking free of other people’s expectations and discovering what will make you happy. It’s the first in a four book series. The second, Promises, will be released in March.

 

 

There are so many great ones to choose from, especially with two different series, but who’s your favorite character from your books?

 

This is tough, but I’d have to say Gabby. She doesn’t always do the right thing, but she would do anything for the people she loves. Her story is a tragic one. I also love Jason from Choices, but that’s for a simpler reason. He’s just the perfect book boyfriend.

 

 

What was it like shifting from a more action-y book like Dawn of the Rebellion to an endearing romance one like Choices?

 

Refreshing. After I finished the final book in the Dawn trilogy, I was mentally exhausted. For a while, I tried writing other things and then would stop because I couldn’t find my creative mojo. So, I decided to try a light romance. It ended up being anything but light, but it wasn’t so draining and I found that I loved it.

 

 

Were there alternate endings that you considered for either of the series?

 

Not for Dawn. With Choices, I had a different ending written, but then one of my beta readers told me it sucked. I needed the tough love because she was right. So I rewrote it and the new one felt right.

 

 

What authors have inspired you to write?

 

Sooo many. I’ve always been a huge fan of fantasy and my favorite is Robin Hobb. There’s also Stephen King. I actually don’t like his books – at all – but he is an inspiration. If you read interviews by him, he’s a genius when it comes to technique and, more importantly, motivation.

 

 

What age were you when you first started writing?

 

I know most people want to hear that I’ve been writing since I was young and it was all I’ve ever wanted to do. The truth is that I hadn’t written more than school assignments until I was 24.

 

 

A dreadful thing: writer’s block. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you work through it?

 

For me, it’s about motivation. There are a lot of times when I just don’t want to start writing. I have to force myself to sit at my computer until something comes. It usually does.

 

 

Everyone has different writing styles. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

 

I just write. I’ve tried to outline, but stories have a way of taking on a mind of their own so any outline would end up being obsolete.

 

 

As an author, you can become attached to your characters. Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

 

Haha – this is a weird one. But, truthfully, yes. They’re truly special people. But, then I look at some of the people whose traits I’ve imbued in my characters, and realize that parts of them are real.

 

 

So, fun question to break things up. If you were a super hero, what would your name be and what power would you have?

 

I totally want to be able to fly. I have a disability that impacts my walking so that would help. Lol. I don’t know about a name.

 

 

If you could have any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

 

Australian, hands down. A few of the people I’ve become good friends with lately are Australian and they’re always saying awesome words that I don’t know the meaning of.

 

 

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

 

I didn’t really have any. I didn’t send it to any publishers because I didn’t yet know if I’d even finish the series. I just put it out there – probably earlier than I should have.

 

 

Which series was more fun to write or was it an equal feeling between Choices and Dawn of the Rebellion?

 

They were very different and both fun – but, I’d say Dawn. The action scenes were great. And everything that happened had these huge consequences for the entire world. But, I feel like Choices and its sequel are my best writing to date and that thought alone makes them special. I’m very proud of my newest book that’s coming out next month.

 

 

So, we’re all looking forward to it, so can you tell us about your upcoming book?

 

Promises is about Maggie and Elijah, two minor characters from Choices. Since they were kids, Elijah is the only person Maggie could count on in her messed up life. She went from a drunken father to a drunken husband, all while Elijah stood on the sidelines as her best friend/emotional support. It’s been a few years since Maggie’s marriage blew up and she is finally ready to see what’s been right in front of her the whole time. Only, things aren’t that simple. There are secrets that Maggie has been keeping from Elijah. As those start to come out, their relationship may not be the same.

 

 

As an established author of four books, do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

 

You have to love it. If you don’t, then quit right now. It isn’t easy. Some days it downright hurts. If you’re not doing it because you love to write, you won’t make it.

 

 

Do you have any strange writing habits?

 

I have to write at the same time every day. For two hours every morning. If I try in the afternoon or evening, I can’t do it.

 

 

Time for some random questions to spice things up. What toppings do you like on your pizza?

 

Pepperoni. I know. Boring.

 

 

Are you a dog person or cat?

 

Both. I like a house full of animals – including a bird.

 

 

What is your biggest fear?

 

Never getting over my disabling illness and having a normal life.

 

 

What’s your favorite pastime besides reading and writing?

 

Watching hockey. Can’t get enough of it!

Author Spotlight: Sarah Wathen

sarahwathen-page1

 

Written by L J Higgins

 

It’s time again to meet one of YAAR’s talented authors! Today we interviewed Sarah Wathen, author of the Catchpenny Series.

 

 

  1. Tell us about your Catchpenny Series.

Catchpenny is an offbeat romance—one novel released in 4 serial parts. The original title was Wicked Lover, and that’s exactly what Meg Shannon is…in all of the ways you might interpret such a phrase. She’s in her senior year of high school, so imagine the consequences of playing that role. Meg has plenty of enemies and slut shame is a big theme. She does find love, yet finding her true worth as a human being is the ultimate quest. In that way, it’s also a coming of age story.

 

  1. Why did you release it as a serial?

I had intended it to be a pretty short read in the beginning. My first book, The Tramp, is part of a long epic story, with tons of characters, history, and interweaving plot lines. With Catchpenny, I wanted to take a breather and write a simple love story. Of course nothing about love is simple, and writing about it isn’t short or simple either. I finished Wicked Lover (part one) and while I was working through it with my editor, part two just couldn’t help itself from happening.

 

  1. Your main character in Wicked lover is a teenage girl who is obsessed with poker. Do you play?

I would say Meg’s a gambler in almost every sense. Love interest Tristan would say she gambles with her body, but not her heart. I do play a little poker, but my game is Blackjack and I learned from the best. My Aunt Maxine taught me everything I could know about cards and she was a true romantic, a guiding force in writing this book. She passed away right before Thanksgiving last year and Catchpenny is dedicated to her.

 

  1. The world is captivated by young love, which seems to be a main theme in Wicked Lover. What do you think we find so enchanting about it?

Young love is pure. We can all remember when we felt so powerfully about another person, before all the worries of adult life got in the way: finances, marriage, family, career. Back when we were invincible and our worlds were filled with boundless hope and endless possibility. Of course, I remember young love being pretty painful, too, when I really stop to think about it. Reading a book about it is much more fun!

 

  1. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

I’m always influenced by whatever good book I am currently reading. Right now it’s The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro, a collection of short stories. Makes me feel like writing a short story, which I’ve never done.

 

  1. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

There’s plenty I would change about the money I wasted! I made so many mistakes it’s ridiculous. But I guess I learned from them all, too, and in a way, the knowledge I gained is priceless.

 

  1. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Catchpenny is the collection of four serial parts: Wicked Lover, Battle Ax, Cactus Heart, and Gold Mine. It was fun to release the books as a serial at first, and since I’m a brand new author, it was a great way for readers to get a taste of my writing before diving into a full novel. Yet after finishing the serial, I really wanted to give people a chance to read the story as a whole.

 

  1. How did you come up with the title for your books?

“Catchpenny” means something cheap, bought for pennies. In the beginning, that how Meg thinks about herself (though she doesn’t realize that). Her journey from a Wicked Lover, through to the Gold Mine in the end of the series, is about her discovering her worth. The two books in between are titled for key concepts in each, but I can’t give that away!

 

  1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I’ve been told that my first book, The Tramp, moves too slowly by some. It’s hard for me not to take that to heart and just stay the course of my plan for the series. I hate that I feel like changing the story because of what some people think, because I think it’s a great book and I do have a plan for it as a series. It was written with a lot of purpose and not every book needs to move quickly, like Catchpenny does. Mostly, I think I made some marketing and genre mistakes. Because the best compliments have also come from The Tramp! Maybe it moves slowly, but apparently that’s because I’m a darn good “wordsmith” and I’m great at painting a rich, visual landscape. That doesn’t happen when you rush through a book! You need to settle in. I guess my favorite books that I’ve read are of the settle in variety.

 

  1. If you had a superpower what would it be?

Mind control, so I would never have to worry about marketing ever again!

 

  1. What else are you working on at the moment?

I’m marrying writing and making art together in a graphic novel. It’s a really exciting project and a huge challenge for me. The story comes from a series of Flash Fiction that I wrote back in April last year called Gaslight. The short, 300-word segments are perfect for graphic novel chapters!

 

  1. Tell us about your cover design.

Each of the four drawings on the Catchpenny cover were covers for the four serial parts. The first one, the cover for Wicked Lover, was a charcoal drawing with a long history for me in grad school. This weird little figure began as a chalk smudge on velvet paper, then came alive as I discerned a tiny being and filled in details with a pen. I wrote it’s birthdate down and “pregnant, dancing, armored bodice.” Next, it became a series of silk screens, each print different. Finally, she was fully realized in the detailed drawing I used for Wicked Lover. When I found the drawing in a flat file, she was just perfect for this strange creature that Meg Shannon is in the beginning of Catchpenny. The figure becomes more human and more beautiful in each part, then finally takes flight. It’s such a great metaphor for discovering yourself.

 

  1. Your website shows that as well as writing you have a passion for art. Which do you prefer and why?

They are apples and oranges, though both ways to create. Writing and making art couldn’t feel more different to me, and I need them both. Here’s a good way to think of it: when I paint I listen to rock, when I draw I listen to jazz, and when I write I listen to white noise on noise-canceling headphones. I was classically trained in painting and up until a few years ago, that’s how I would’ve defined myself. Now I realize that, as an artist, I just choose the hat for the moment. Last year I was “a writer,” this year I’m “an illustrator,” and before that I was “a painter.” It’s all art.

 

  1. Are you a coffee or a tea drinker?

I’m drinking coffee right now, but I prefer wine.

 

  1. Is there anything else you would like your readers to know about you?

Yes! I work closely with my musician husband when I write, and the title Wicked Lover is from a song that his band, Her Last Boyfriend, wrote. It’s the song in the book trailer I produced and you can check it out here: http://bit.ly/WickedLoverTrailer

Also, HLB has decided to produce an EP album of four songs, one tune for each serial part of Catchpenny. It’s not finished yet, but they are doing some really cool stuff that goes so well with the story in the book. I love it! The second song is a remake of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The fourth is an alternative rock version of the famous wedding song, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” Follow my blog, and I’ll keep you informed: www.sarahwathen.com

 

An Interview with L.J. Higgins

New Release January 2016Written by T.D. Shields

  1. Tell us about your book, Dawn of the Dreamer.  Do you have a favourite part or character?

Dawn of the Dreamer is set in the year 2023.  It follows the story of Amelia who, due to new technologies being unable to change her dreams, has been labelled a Dreamer and is therefore made to feel different and unlike her friends and family.

My favourite part to write was the fire scene. I can’t pinpoint why exactly, but it came to me so
easily and I really enjoyed writing it. As for characters, I couldn’t decide between Amelia and Jonah.

  1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was around twelve years old. I use to write stories and short novels then take them to my teachers for them to read and give me feedback. I have a folder full of old, cringe-worthy stories. I’ve always loved reading, so I guess it stemmed from there.

  1. How long does it take you to write a book?

Dawn of the Dreamer took eight months, but Fall of the Dreamer only took me three to four. I’m getting better at mapping out and planning my novels, which makes the writing process easier and quicker.

  1. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Schedule? What is that? I’m a stay at home mum and between getting kids to school, keeping my daughter occupied all day, and trying to keep a clean house and a happy husband I don’t have much of a schedule at all. I write when I can fit it in, which usually means very late nights.

  1. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I’d like to say I don’t have one. But I’m sure if someone came and watched me write they’d find quite a few.

  1. How do you overcome writer’s block?

I haven’t had to yet, and hope I never do have to. I’ve had motivation block before. But YAAR’s group usually helps with that one.

  1. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Relax with a green tea and read a good book, spend quality time with my family, I love to paint, draw and craft (I have my own shed dedicated to this)

  1. What does your family think of your writing?

They are all extremely supportive. They don’t always necessarily understand the hours and effort that goes into writing and publishing, but they have always told me to go for it.

  1. What made you decide to write for a young adult audience?

Because they are my favourite type of books, and because I think YA covers the period of a person’s life when they go through the most change. Trying to work out who they are and what they want to do with their life.

  1. Where did you come up with the idea for Dawn of the Dreamer? Was there something in particular that triggered the idea?

I’d started a blog, and noticing that I was reigniting my passion for writing, a friend of mine bought me notebook and inside she put a post it note saying that she couldn’t wait to read my future novel. With no word of a lie, that night I had a dream that sparked the idea for Dawn of the Dreamer and the Dreamer Trilogy.

  1. What project are you working on now?

Fall of the Dremer (Dreamer Trilogy, Book Two) will be released on the 28th January, so I have been working on getting it ready. I’m also writing Book Three of the trilogy, while also mapping out the story for my next series. There is also a stand-alone book I am working on that is more contemporary but still young adult.

  1. Anything else you’d like to tell your friends and fans?

At the moment I am running an amazing giveaway where you can not only win softcover copies of Dawn of the Dreamer, and Fall of the Dreamer but also a Dreamer singlet, a beautiful Dream Catcher, Journals and other great Dreamer goodies. You can find out more on my Facebook page.
I will also be a part of a 5 Author Extravaganza with four other YAAR authors on the 30th January. It is an online event where we will play games and giving away prizes. You can join us by clicking on this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1665268217072460/
And of course, Fall of the Dreamer will be released on the 28th of January as both an Ebook and softcover book!

Author Spotlight: Lauren Mayhew

laurenmayhew-page1 (1)Written by

L J  Higgins and Michelle Lynn

 

It’s that time again where you get to meet another one of YA Author Rendezvous amazing authors. Lauren Mayhew is the author of Reality is in a Dream and we can’t wait for you to learn more about her and her book.

 

What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

My first book is called ‘Reality is in a Dream’ and it’s part of the Liliana trilogy. I am currently writing the second book in the series called ‘Mourning Memories’.

Reality is in a Dream follows a girl called Liliana who we meet on her 16th birthday. From the moment that she wakes up, strange things start to happen in her life. Not only does she start dreaming about family members that don’t exist in the waking world, she realises that she has powers she never knew about. We follow her over a year, as she tries to figure out what is real and who she can trust.

 

Were there alternate endings that you considered?

Initially, Reality is in a Dream was going to end without the epilogue. I was going to use the epilogue as the beginning of Mourning Memories, but it wouldn’t have worked. It would have made the beginning of Book 2 drag a little.

 

What age were you when you started writing?

Whenever we were asked to write a story or a poem at school, I remember getting really excited, so I know I was interested in writing from a really young age. I don’t think I came up with a big story line for a novel until I was about 15 and I started writing properly when I was about 17 or 18 I think.

 

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I have had writer’s block for most of this year. I think I got so caught up in trying to promote my first book, as well as going to work full time, that I struggled to find the time to write. That meant I wasn’t in the writing head space I was in for writing my first book, so I’m still struggling to get back into it.

 

Lauren Mayhew - Reality is in a Dream PlanDo you work with an outline, or just write?

I usually havea beginning and an ending in my head, so I start writing straight away. Then I get to a point when I realise that I have no idea what happens in the middle of the book, so I then write a plan. It’s basically a bullet point list of the book in sections. I end up writing notes on it everywhere when I think up something that needs to be added in. It ends up being quite a mess, but I understand it.

 

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

I would definitely take my time and not rush into it the way I did. I got so excited about it all, I didn’t do any research. Now I know about beta readers, so my second book will be done a lot more professionally!

 

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

It’s hard to talk about without giving away the twist at the end of the first one! All I can say is that Liliana’s parents kept a big secret from her about herself. She finally begins to understand the true reason why Duana wants her above all others with powers.

 

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

On the first book that I ever started writing (a love story which may never be completed!) someone read the first three or four chapters and basically slated the whole thing. They said that I should delete everything that had been written so far and start the story from then on. I would have accepted their comments had it not been for the way they ended it – “Hope this helps!” I cannot begin to explain how angry this made me!

 

The biggest compliment would be from my boss’ 11 year old daughter, Sophie. The first time I met her she got very excited at the fact that I was writing a book. When it was released, she read it in one sitting, loved it and started telling all her school friends that she personally knew an author.

 

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I write everything by hand, some might think that’s strange nowadays considering the amount of electronic devices we have to type things up, but I really struggle to write straight to a computer.

 

I also write down the date each time I start writing. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea!

 

Dreams can be difficult to write. In Reality is in a Dream, you’ve managed to make the dreams a major part of the story without breaking the action or boring the reader. What made you want to tackle such a big challenge?

Firstly, thank you!

 

For me, the dreams were basically half of the story. Without them, I would have had to do a lot of information dumping on the reader and long explanations between Liliana and Justin, as she started to remember more and more about Samson and Asher. That would have slowed the story down a lot more.

 

It just made more sense to write it as dreams so that the reader was finding out this information at the same time as Liliana. That way the reader is more involved.

 

I also tried to make sure that the dreams added significance to the story and gave important information. So many dreams in books are pointless page fillers and I wanted to avoid that!

 

If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?

I’d love to be able to have the power to tell if someone was telling the truth or lie. It might not sound like a great power, but I know of a few politicians who would be quaking in their boots! I think the obvious choice for a name would be Truthsayer. I’m not a big fan of dressing up, so I’d probably just try and blend in with everyone else.

 

What people are saying about Lauren Mayhew and Reality is in a Dream:

 

“Telling a story like this requires an expert hand. When you have to use your mind to know the points when we’re in the “real world” and when we’re not, and Lauren Mayhew did a very good job of this. The characters were well-developed, and Liliana herself was a good lead character, a typical teenage girl trying to solve an unsolvable puzzle.”

“The writing kept me enthralled and wanting to read more which is all I can ask of any book. At its heart, this book was romantic- about people trying to find their way back to each other. What better story is there than that? I can’t wait to read more.”

 

Check out Lauren Mayhew’s page on YAAR to learn more!

 

 

 

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