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An Interview in Pictures with Lauren Mayhew

An Interview in Pictures with Lauren Mayhew

By Michelle Lynn

You can learn a lot about a person through the things they see, the things they find important. Sometimes it is a bigger insight into their life than their words. 

So let’s look inside the mind, inside the life, of an author. I’ve asked them to answer each question with a single picture. No caption. Just an image. 

  1. A picture that you think represents who you are.

    lauren 1

    2. A real-life picture that could have been taken in the world of one of your books.

    lauren 2

  2. Do you have a writing companion (pet or child)?

    lauren 3

    4. Your favorite book of all time.

    lauren 4

  1. Your bookshelf.

    lauren 5

  2. A picture that represents something you love to do (outside of writing or reading).

    lauren 6

  1. Favorite place (Beach, mountains, city, etc.)

    lauren 7

  1. Something that makes you smile.

    lauren 8

  2. Something that inspires you.

    lauren 9

 

From Lauren: I’m a twenty-four year old dreamer from England, with a passion for the written word – I hope you enjoy the worlds that I have created for your enjoyment.


Lauren is a talented Young Adult author and can be found in many places:

Amazon
Facebook
Website

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Author Spotlight – Amalie Jahn

An Interview with author Amalie Jahn

By Michelle Lynn

amalie

Amalie Jahn is a brilliant young adult author. She writes multiple series including some of the best time-travel books I have read. Her stories deserve some recognition and I am happy to introduce her to the readers of the Young Adult Author Rendezvous.

 

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

The Clay Lion Series includes three YA time travel books which are each stand-alones in their own right – The Clay Lion, Tin Men, and A Straw Man. Each book follows a different main character on a trip back in time to save someone they love. In The Clay Lion, Brooke travels back in time in an attempt to save her brother Branson’s life. In Tin Men, Charlie searches for his birth parents. And in A Straw Man, Melody tries to save her boyfriend, Nate, from the throws of addiction. I’ve also written an NA trilogy called the Sevens Prophecy Series about a group of psychic strangers who are destined to save the world.

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

When you spend hundreds of hours with your characters day in and day out, crafting their personalities and sharing in their triumphs as well as their defeats, they become part of your family. So, choosing the one you love best is a bit like picking your favorite child. Diplomatically, I enjoy them all for different reasons, but if you’re making me choose just one, I supposed Brooke would be my favorite. There’s a lot of me inside of her, from her dogged perseverance to her desire to control the uncontrollable. Sharing her journey was a way for me to sort out some of my own issues, and I’ll always be grateful to her for that.

  1. Time travel – probably one of the coolest, but also most difficult ideas to write about. What were some of the challenges you faced in dealing with it?

The idea for the story about time travel came to me in a dream. I woke up and jotted clay liondown a few notes so I wouldn’t forget them. When I revisited my ideas at the start of the manuscript I began to realize that a lot of what was plausible in my subconscious imagination would not work realistically in the world I wanted to create for my characters. I struggled a lot with the fundamentals of how time travel was going to work in my world, and those struggles manifest themselves in many middle-of-the-night rewriting sessions, when I would wake up in a cold sweat realizing entire chapters would have to change because theoretically the timelines just wouldn’t sync. For example, in an early draft Brooke’s parents remembered Branson’s initial death after her first trip back in time, but of course that would be quite impossible because by going back in time, Brooke started along a new timeline in which she was the only one with any memory of that first death. There was also the issue of Brooke traveling inside her own conscious to avoid the possibility of running into her past or future self during her trips. I made rules for myself and then immediately break them. It nearly drove me mad. And although I’d like to say writing about time travel got easier as I made my way through the series, the struggle continued with the second and third books. I did the best I could with the challenges time travel presented, but at the end of the day I just had to trust that readers would read past the small plot holes and focus more on the storyline. I’m happy to report this seems to be the case.

  1. I’m a huuuuge fan of your books and one of the things that always amazes me is that even though time travel plays a big role, they don’t seem like science fiction books. The storylines seem more about relationships than the details of actually traveling back in time. Was this on purpose?

Absolutely. I’m not really a big sci-fi girl. I enjoy a good Star Trek episode as much as the next person, but what has always been the most important thing to me as a reader is my connection with the characters. I have to be invested. I have to feel what they’re feeling in a way that immerses me in their world. I wanted The Clay Lion to be Brooke’s story, her journey out of a dark place and into the light. Time travel was simply the means to propel her forward on that path of discovery. With that being said, as readers move through the series, the characters begin to delve more deeply into the more specific ramifications of time travel. Melody’s experience in A Straw Man is a deeply disturbing with regard to the significant damage it can cause.

  1. The Clay Lion is probably one of the most heart-wrenching books I’ve read. It’s a love story, but I found it also to be about family and learning some hard life lessons. How do you balance a desire to write about romance with a story filled with grief and so much pain?

Isn’t that the balance of life – taking the good with the bad and making room for them both? I knew what was eventually going to pull Brooke out of her depression in the midst of her grief was love, in all its forms. She starts out so broken, but when she allows the love back in, the healing process begins. I believe this is true in life, that love helps us overcome, and I wanted the simplicity of a blossoming romance to help Brooke find her way. As an author, I couldn’t keep taking from her without eventually giving something in return.

  1. What authors have inspired you to write?

Oh jeez, so many. From my childhood: Judy Blume, V.C. Andrews, Jerry Spinelli. The first book that taught me about the emotional power of the written word was Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. I read a ton of Dean Koontz in my twenties and still revere him for his prolific body of work. The author that made me want to become a writer, however, was Christina Schwarz. I distinctly remember reading Drowning Ruth and thinking “I want to write like this someday.” I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

  1. What age were you when you started writing?

I remember writing fiction as early as second grade. I wrote short stories in little steno notebooks I kept hidden under my bed. My spelling was atrocious (still is!), but I learned at a very young age how writing could be used as an escape and a way to sort out problems one story at a time. It’s always been a form of catharsis for me.

  1. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Yes and no. Sometimes when I sit down to the computer I’m not sure how a particular scene is going to play out or (more rarely) what comes next. At those times, I either let my characters take over or work on something else for a day or two until the perfect solution presents itself. Most times, if I’m stuck, I force myself to write through it, knowing I can always come back and revise if necessary.

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

among tsYes to both. I always have some sort of rough idea of where the story is headed, but it’s never very detailed. I liken it to knowing that I want to drive across the United States from New York to California, and I know I want to see Cincinnati and Las Vegas along the way, I just don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there. The characters make those more specific decisions for me. Which roads to take. Which detours to make. I love it when they surprise me along the way with ideas of places to stop I hadn’t even imagined.

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

Wait. They aren’t?

  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?

Oh, yes. When it came to publishing I basically did everything wrong because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. If I had to go back again I would be more patient. I would have spent more time learning about the industry before diving in head first. With that being said, my publishing journey has been an amazing learning experience as well as one of the greatest joys of my life, missteps and all.

  1. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Absolutely. The final book in the Sevens Prophecy Series is due out this summer, and I’m patiently waiting for a release date for a YA contemporary I’ve written about a farm girl from Iowa named Tess Goodwin who moves to North Carolina when her father reenlists in the Army after September 11th. It’s a friendship story (and a love story) about Tess finding acceptance in the last place she’s expecting.

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

tinWell, I believe you can’t actually call yourself and author until someone tells you your book is “garbage.” Thankfully I’ve only encountered a few comments as painful as that. I know most publishers encourage their authors not to read reviews, but can’t help myself. The truth is, as much as the good ones brighten my days, the critical ones often shed light on areas I need to focus on improving. I think the trick is not falling under the delusion that just because your body of work is successful as a whole that you don’t need to continue growing in your craft. Learn how to tighten the plot, be more descriptive, or improve the flow of dialogue. I know that I can always do better and that my readers deserve the best work I can produce. And as for the best compliment I’ve gotten? Nothing makes me happier that when I hear I’ve made a reader cry. Knowing someone has connected with my characters at such a deeply emotional level makes reading the handful of “garbage” comments worth it.

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

Don’t give up.

Keep pushing yourself to try new techniques.

Write the story inside you, not the story you think will sell a million copies.

Read a lot. Then read some more.

Find a good editor.

Believe in yourself.

  1. Do you have any strange writing habits?

It has to be quiet when I write. No music. No television. No kids playing in an adjoining room. I have a desk set up on my treadmill, and I walk while I write so I’m not sitting on my butt all day. I go pretty slow, though, because I’ve found if I walk too fast my brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and my writing gets pretty mushy. About 3.5 mph is my max before I’m spouting nothing but gibberish.

What others are saying about Amalie Jahn:

“There’s a very profound message hidden in these pages. You get glimpses of it throughout but you don’t truly understand it until the very end of the story.”

“It will tear your heart out of your chest and piece it back together again, stronger than it was before. You will experience every emotion from A to Z and back again, and you will have grown as a person for having read it.”


You can find Amalie Jahn on Facebook HERE!

Check out Amalie Jahn’s website to learn more HERE!

See Amalie Jahn’s page at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE!

Check out more of our blog posts HERE!

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Flash Fiction: Scrambled

Flash Fiction: Scrambled by Author Debbie Manber Kupfer

“Mrs. Dumpty is just as klutzy as her husband. Why they can’t just stay off that wall it beats me.” The King sighed. He’d tried sending in his men and the horses again. Didn’t work though. One of these days he’d give up and just make a huge pan of scrambled egg.

But today wasn’t the day for that. Today was Valentine’s Day. So he’d call in Cupid.

“Can’t do it,” said Cupid. “Not my area.”

“Don’t care,” countered the King. “You owe me a favor. Remember that stray arrow last year?”

“Yeah, I remember. You’re never going to let me forget that, are you? I’ll see what I can do.”

“Cheers mate. If anyone can get the Dumptys back together I know it’s you.”

Cupid flew down the wall. The Dumptys lay on the floor groaning. It looked bad, real bad. He worked for three hours straight but in the end had to call the King back.

“I’m sorry your majesty.” He sighed. “Even I couldn’t bring them back together.”


Want more from Debbie? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew with the express permission of Debbie Manber Kupfer.

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Author Spotlight – Susan Faw

An Interview with author Susan Faw

By Michelle Lynn

susan

 

Susan Faw is a Young Adult author who writes intriguing and award winning fantasy books. Her stories can be enjoyed by readers of all ages from young adult on into old age, you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

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

My titles, in order, are:

Soul Survivor
Seer of Souls
Soul Sanctuary
Soul Sacrifice

These titles make up The Spirit Shield Saga. It is now a complete series.

The books follow the struggles of a fractured family of godlings, struggling to control the souls of the world. When sibling rivalry is elevated to the level of the gods, survival is highly over rated!

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

I seem to do evil antagonist really well. I think I have had a lot of experience with the evil side of mankind so it lends to limitless fodder to feed on, when creating my evil characters. So my vote goes to Helga.

  1. Alright, I have to do this one. You just won the overall at the Chanticleer book awards. That’s a big deal! How do you feel?

seerOMG how do I feel? Shocked. Amazed. I keep checking the awards on my wall (I put them in a shadow box to protect them) to make sure they are still there, like they might vanish or something. I think all authors are introverts at heart, so I keep looking for the other author with the same name. There must be a mistake, right?

It just goes to show that you can have a crap load of bad reviews (I have plenty, and those early troll-baited “DNF 36%” reviews hurt. Badly. I actually had Seer of Souls scheduled for a new round of edits I thought it was that bad. I was supposed to start them in January. I postponed them because making the first cut. And then the second cut. I mean you can’t mess with a manuscript that is in the running, right?

I always thought I could write. The biggest thing, for me, about this win is the sense of VALIDATION. It’s not just me saying this. Someone else says it, and not because I begged, not because I traded favours. The impartiality of it means so much!

  1. So, fantasy, huh? I’m a massive fan of the world you’ve created in Seer of Souls. What is the biggest challenge to writing in a genre where everything has to be made from your own mind?

Well, I live in a world of my own making every day. So do my characters. I think we both live in the same world, so it’s more like we visit back and forth. I like to live in their world more than mine, so I do! And if I really get stuck I go find some wacky element to bring into play and watch how my characters react to it, such as the flutes or the soul fetches. Adding an unusual element always gets the creative juices flowing!

  1. Gods living among humans has been done before many times, yet you still manage to pull something unique out of it. What’s your secret? – promise we won’t tell <;

I think most other series have left them as gods. I liked the idea of the gods sacrificing themselves to save the world. It’s a very common religious theme, right? But forgetting that they did so makes it fun, as the quest to discover who they are becomes a race to their own doom. (I am trying to not give away too much here, so I will say no more!)

  1. What authors have inspired you to write?

Hands down, JK Rowling, and Robert Jordan, for the uniqueness of their series and their seer 2skill at their craft. I also credit Brandon Sanderson, more so for his podcast, Writing Excuses. It was the first podcast I listened to, to learn the craft of writing a book, especially fantasy. His podcast was pivotal in my growth and eventual decision to become an author.

  1. What age were you when you started writing?

If you consider writing to be story-telling, then I have been writing since before I could write. When my sister and I were about four or five, we would play this game where we would pick a picture at random from the National Geographic and we would have to create, on the spot, a story to explain the picture. We would play this for hours and I can remember laughing at the silly stories we came up with.

  1. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I would call it more writer’s slow down. Most writer’s block is, simply not understanding where your story is going. For me, I am pantster through and through. I never know where it’s going. So what I do is throw in one of those random elements again, and figure it out from there. For example, I dropped a meteor on Ryder’s band in Seer of Souls, where it wiped out half of a village. I left it completely unexplained because I didn’t know where it came from either. But then in Soul Sanctuary, I figured it out. It was an explosion from the mountain during one of Helga’s experiments. She was responsible for it :-p. Whew. That was a close one…

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

Pantser baby, all the way! I find outlines kill my creativity. I have an over-arching idea of where the story is going, but it’s more like A,B,C, you know, the three act structure, than an outline.

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

Yes, and not just my characters but other people’s characters too. I really wish I could meet Harry Potter. Just once.

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

seer 3When I finished writing Seer of Souls, I really had no idea what to do with it next. Those podcasts from Brandon Sanderson were craft related, and he is a traditionally published author, so he really didn’t address the indie world. I knew people were indie publishing but I had no idea what to do or where to start. I had a friend who was an editor (she is retired now) and she pointed me towards some people I should be following (Kristen Lamb was one of the first, and Rachel Thompson) and it was through the connection with Rachel Thompson that I heard about Booktrope. I queried twice before being accepted in. Booktrope was a hybrid small press, and I got my start there, for they took my book and helped me find my editor and my cover designer, who are still with me to this day. They helped me get Seer of Souls published, in February of 2016 before they closed their doors on May 1st, 2016.  It was the start I needed and after that closure, I had learned enough to take it to the next phase as a fully independent author.

  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?

Not really. I needed the help to figure everything out. I will be forever grateful to Booktrope for giving me the foot up. Their model was unique, a blend of indie and traditional. I was sad to see it go down.

  1. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

As The Spirit Shield Saga is now complete, I am working on a brand new series entitled “The Heart Of The Citadel”. It will be a series combining dragons and djinn (genies)…or if you wish (say it aloud with me) Djinn and Dragons! Hahaha

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

The toughest criticism has been that my characters lack development. Patently false, but it still stings.  My best compliment? From a reader, that they couldn’t put the book down and stayed up all night just to finish it.

From a reviewer, came this email, from the Book Pipeline Competiton, just after my Chanticleer win.

Dear Susan,
With regards to your submission for the 2016 Book Pipeline Competition, below is the internal feedback from our judges, commenting primarily on the entry’s film or TV potential. Although the notes are relatively brief, we trust this will help give you a bit of insight into our process.

Seer of Souls

This piece is incredibly well-written. The vivid exposition and intrigue, engaging plot design and heightened stakes all exposed in the opening chapter acted as clear evidence to the writer’s skillful abilities in the fantasy genre. This narrative felt as though it had the potential to reach the heights of an epic fantasy series like LORD OF THE RINGS while at the same time adding something new and fresh in the midst of familiar tones and fantasy elements. Immortals being born as human beings and a magic system that finds its roots in established fantasy works added with the maturity of a well-established voice all came together with the potential of creating an excellent fantasy-adventure. There is no doubt that the writing employs the use of large cinematic descriptions that would translate very well to screen and if this narrative’s execution proves as provoking as the writing style, it could very well attract producers and studios interested in finding the next epic fantasy film.”

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

Write what you love. Write with passion. Write the best you can, being conscious of quality and heart. Do this, rinse, repeat. We write because we love to tell stories. So tell them!

  1. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I listen to a CD of Lord Of The Rings music over and over and over, by Peter Hollens. It becomes mood music.

I also write on the deck under my patio umbrella. I will spend all day there in the summertime. I love to write outside.

What others are saying about Susan:

“I love fantasy if it’s well-written. The world-building has to be competent, the characters engaging and the plot well-realized and significantly short on holes. Susan Faw’s Seer of Souls checked all three boxes.”

“A great edition to an over saturated genre, and the author has real talent holding the reader’s attention through the complex storyline.”


Susan can be found on Facebook HERE!

Check out Susan’s book page at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE!

You can see some of our other posts HERE!

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Author Spotlight: T.L. McDonald

tl

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.

IMG_1650

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!

Story Seeds by Susan Faw

Story Seeds by Author Susan Faw

Short stories for when we just need the inspiration.

“I am purity of thought. I am steel sheathed in oil. I am justice made flesh. I am a blade master.”

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The thought skidded across the vacant space where normally lodged his fears, devoid of the normal sensations that fueled it. He packaged the sensations and pushed them into a blackened box, a box that constantly burned. He fed his fears to the flame and the box swallowed the ashes.

He recited the catechism, blocking out hope and despair in equal measure. Emotion had no place in the ritual of the blade. There was only form and shape, steel and flesh. All other realities were extraneous.

His opponent was at least a hand taller, with a corresponding reach, but his advantage lay in his speed, in his ability to dance the swords as light ballerina on pointe. In actual fact he practiced the traditional dance as often with his sister as with other blade masters, as the foot work of the dance gave him a swiftness and lightness of movement missing in most who claimed the title.

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This dexterity had saved his life more than once.

He was not sure it would be enough this time.

Patel stroked the air with his blade, with practice strokes that whirled around his form and the blurring caught the sunlight in a sizzling arc that made his eyes blink bright trailers.

The crowd shifted, gasps and “ooh’s” rising in a wave and murmuring broke out.

Maybe I shouldn’t have challenged the king’s steward. Perhaps that was unwise… he shoved the thought into the box as his concentration wavered. He had no room for doubt. To win this battle would take every ounce of skill he possessed.

He squared with the towering bulk that was Patel, and touched his blade to forehead, then bowed.

Whatever the outcome, he would show himself true. His sister would be avenged. Raw pain lanced across his peace, but this time he stoked it, stroked it. This challenge was for her. Images of her broken body, tossed into a ditch along the roadside flashed into his mind. He held the image of her ravaged body in his vision, feeding his passion and his sense of justice to be served, but the anger, the fear, the grief of loss he fed to the box.

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He would avenge his sister. He would attack swiftly, with all the force he could bring to bear. Full tilt, unto the death. Life was not worth living without her.

“I am purity of thought. I am steel sheathed in oil. I am justice made flesh. I am a blade master.”

He launched himself at Patel, sword a matching blur to Patel’s. A whirlwind of dancing death descended on the unsuspecting steward.

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English Idiom: “Full Tilt”- As fast or forcefully as possible…Originally referring to the combatants’ thrust of a sword or lance this term has been used figurative since about 1700.”

Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.


Want more from Susan? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Susan on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Michelle Lynn with the express permission of Susan Faw.

Walking the Line – Sex in YA

c118acd3c2a99fb465af4dff36bbc17dWritten by K. R. Conway

If you have ever kicked around on YA blogs,

inevitably you come across posts about sex in Young Adult novels. Nine times out of ten, the post will say something about how books portray these moments, whether accurate or inaccurate, fade to black or way too much details.

I’m going to address the top three myths I see about nookie and YA, because quite frankly, there is a whole variety of what can be deemed as accurate in portraying sex.

Argument 1: Too many YA books paint first time sex as a beautiful experience, when it really is kind of . . . awkward.

My thoughts: True, but this seems more likely if both characters are inexperienced. tumblr_n0jrngdlbv1rizz8go1_1280It doesn’t have to always be portrayed as messy, or clumsy. Sex between characters should be a reflection of who they are as people and as partners. What they do between the sheets (IF they do anything between the sheets, because sex should only appear if it is accurate for the characters), should mirror their lives with one another. I’ve seen it done really well in YA books, and other times I wanted to scream (and not in a good way). Should it be an accurate reflection of real life? Absolutely, but such truths should be echoed in who the characters are without sex, and whether or not one is inexperienced or not. Sex between YA characters can be beautifully drawn, but should be honest. The Gossip Girl do-it-on-the-staircase-stuff I’d avoid. I mean come on . . . those wooden treads would suck!

Argument 2: Fade to black is a cop-out in YA. If your gonna write it, write it!

My thoughts: While some writers give a real play-by-play of sex scenes, I find myself far more impressed by those who show alot without showing alot. Plus – I have a teenaged daughter, and while she is fully aware of “stuff” (and heaven knows the stuff that is shown on TV and film now-a-days) I would rather she not read some graphic scene (not yet anyway). An intimate scene between characters can be portrayed vividly, while maintaining a PG / PG-13 rating.

2120642dcf55ac09bd2160fa5551f531Argument 3: All the girl characters become mindless idiots once kissed, and all the boys are dying to peel their love interest’s clothes off like a tangerine.

My thoughts: Bullcrap. You’re just not reading a wide enough variety of YA to realize that some writers deliberately put their female characters in the driver’s seat when it comes to sex. They are also careful to write both the bad boys that don’t give a damn about consent, along with the ones who make sure their girl / guy are in total control of the situation. Both these issues (girl power in the sack and males who boost the control of their love interests) are a critical part of the Undertow series. I wrote the contrast because I wanted the girls who DID read the series to see and understand what true love looks like (and what it doesn’t, in the case of Ana Lane’s father), and what strong females sound and act like. I’m not the only author who is a “girl power” writer – there are many of us (Sarah Maas, Eva Darrows, Jennifer Armentrout, Mary Pearson, and Holly Black to name but a few). So don’t buy the BS that sex in YA is all “boy he-man, girl fair princess.” Some of us write the warrior chick, right down to the marrow of her bones (and her hormones).

Argument 4: Sex in YA is inappropriate.

My thoughts: Maybe – it depends on the story. It depends on the characters and what the author, editor, and about nine other people who are involved in the book’s evolution believe. At the end of the day, however, the choice between characters on whether to do the deed or not reflects entirely on who they are at that moment in time in their lives and whether or not that moment actually occurs in the time span of the book. Like all choices characters make within the story, sex must be a reflection of who they are, as people (or, uh, monsters), where they came from, and how they see and trust one another.

And sometimes, when we view sex in YA, we simply need to remember what it was to be in love for the first time.

You can read more of K.R. Conway’s blogs here.

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Why the Agony of Writing for Teens is Worth It

Girl reading a book on the floor.Written by K. R. Conway

Writers can become burned out.

I don’t mean the hyperventilating, “OMG I have no story ideas!” type of burn out. I mean the grind of the words, the constant push to out-write your last book, the stiff necks, the time crunches, and the piecemealing of a life outside of your characters’ worlds.

You try to balance the requests from bookstores, the demands to meet deadlines, the desperate need to spend time with your family and your children, and (for many of us), the 9 to 5 of a day job as well.

Novel-writing is the ultimate act of endurance, with a finish line that seems to never fully reveal itself. And once you have finished one story, polished and in print, you immediately are looking to churn out the next book.

I started to feel the burn out when I was finishing up CRUEL SUMMER.  In the past 2 years, I had churned out close to 300,000 words related to the UNDERTOW series. Let me tell ya – that’s a lot of freakin’ words!

I’ve worked as a writer since 1999, and in all those years, I never got burned out as a journalist. But in all those years, I didn’t have the fans I have now. And they are like – HARDCORE FANS. They burn through those 300k words in just a couple of days, because they can’t put the book down. Because they must keep going, or they will obsess about Eila and her crew all day long, which is great and all, but I start to panic and think, “I need to get another book done for them, like, YESTERDAY!”

And my fans are voracious readers. I often get messaged that this kid or that kid has read STORMFRONT in a day (112k words) or that they are re-reading UNDERTOW for the 5th TIME! I don’t even think I’ve read Undertow cover to cover more than twice, and that was when it was in its editing phase! Some fans buy EVERY cover version, because they must have them all (0_0)

So, when I start to feel the burn out lurking in my life, I remember those fans. Those that flip out so entirely over the characters, that their Christmas lists are loaded with Undertow stuff.

I don’t get to usually see fans outside of book events, but the other day I saw one reading my book, and what I saw filled me with determination to work even harder.

You see, I drive a school bus during the day, filled with my target audience. While I can only really see the tops of kids’ heads when I drive, I do have to walk to the back of the bus when I pull up to the middle school to unload. The other day, while I walked to the back of the bus to disengage a warning button, I saw one girl sitting and reading, oblivious to the fact that we were at the school. At first I didn’t pay much attention, but then I did a double-take.

I knew that font.

I knew that line.

She was reading STORMFRONT. I didn’t bother her, but kept going and unloaded the bus, but she hung back, sliding into the seat behind my driver’s one. “This is so unbelievably awesome,” she says to me. “I was up from, like, 8 to 11 last night reading. And I reread Undertow over the weekend, but OMG. I love this!”

I thanked her and blushed a tad, thrilled she was enjoying it.

At the end of the day, I drove her home with a bus full of half-crazed teens. I was focused on getting the kids home safely and not losing my mind, so I wasn’t really paying close attention to what she was holding as I unloaded at her stop. But as I saw her walk away, I realized she had gotten off with the book tucked under her arm. I watched, floored, as she walked towards her home, Stormfront in her hands as she read.

She wasn’t on her phone. She wasn’t hanging with the other kids and talking. She was lost inside my book, living alongside my fictional characters, reading as she walked. Suddenly that lurking burn-out vanished and I remembered why I write.

I do it for teens like her, who want to fall so entirely in love with a story that their own reality tumbles away.

I write for the fans, and in turn, they are my creative jolt.

They power me past the burn out.

They are my army and my saving grace . . . and I pledge my undying loyalty to their awesomeness

Know Thy Audience. ALWAYS.

Know Thy Audience Always - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by K. R. Conway

If there is ever a phrase that sends chills through my body, it is: “Well, I’m not really sure if my COMPLETED manuscript is exactly aimed for teens. Maybe it is more middle grade? But then again, I guess it could be adult.”

Oh, dear lord.

There is nothing, NOTHING more important than knowing WHO you are writing for before you even put pen to paper. You need to know EXACTLY who your audience is – from how they live, talk, socially function, what would make your book appeal to them, WHY they would buy it in the first place, blah, blah, BLAH. How do you sell something if you have no clue who would want to buy it? That’s like designing a hot air balloon that can’t fly and saying, “I know this will appeal to SOMEBODY.” Well, heck – you would be 112 years old before you figured out WHO would buy an unfloating air balloon (FYI – this would sell to those funky, futuristic tent designers who want some killer fabric and who would upcycle the basket parts. SEE??? I know my audience!!!)

As cool as your story may be, it NEEDS a set audience to S-E-L-L. So . . . let’s take, uh . . . OH! The Shadow and Bone series by Bardugo. Dark fantasy set in a brutal remake of a Russian-like empire. Totally awesome. Love it. Go read it. Well . . . go read it IF YOU LIKE THAT TYPE OF THING. See???? Audience. I like dark and creepy with a few well placed bodies here and there. I can do fantasy as long as the fairies are the type to murder you in your sleep while acquiring your tooth.

So Bardugo’s audience is the type that:

A. Likes dark fantasy. This would include those who enjoyed the last few books in the Harry Potter series best, and those who liked Lord of the Rings and (if you’re ancient like me) The Dark Crystal.

61sIOGA4rqLB. They are 14 + (maybe a few, high-level 13-y-o readers too). She appeals to those who like vivid world building over smooching scenes. People who are willing to see a character fail and have mixed feelings about the “bad” guy (who happens to be a hottie).

C. Her readers tend to be thinkers. People who like puzzles, especially the ones that require you to out-manuver an opponent. They are the people who tend to be the quiet ones, but their imagination is always running and it isn’t playing Cinderella scenes over and over, if you get my gist.

D. They are bold, but not for the sake of others. They will pierce their tongue not to fit in nor stand out, but because doing so speaks to who they are as a person. They don’t follow the crowd.

E. They like twists and unseen complications. They like to see the characters fail as well as conquer. Romance is okay by them, but it is not the only reason they read the story. In fact, the romance aspect is low on their list of must-haves and they like that the main characters are a bit tortured in their love for one another.

You may say, “Holy heck, Conway – that is a TON of detail. How are we supposed to know that much about our audience?!” Well . . . that’s part of being a writer, and I was a journalist before I was a novelist. As a journalist I had to always, ALWAYS sell my story – not only to my editor, but to my potential readers. I needed to pitch every story to my editor and tell them WHY it was timely. WHY people would read it and WHO would read it. I needed to tell them how I would learn about the topic I was pitching and LEARN ABOUT WHO IS INTERESTED in such a topic.

I basically became my audience, every time, for every story. To become my audience for UNDERTOW, I began reading any and all YA books that were a bit similar. I started watching every teen movie I could find, plus those that were not aimed for teens but had young main characters. I shifted my playlist in the direction of pure Alternative music, hard rock, and a bit of metal.

I was willing to be a teenager – jump on beds (okay – my daughter’s bed at least), leap from the Town Neck bridge, argue over t-shirts at Abercrombie, and generally act like I was 16 rather than . . . well, older. I began to look at the world as a high schooler again – to understand fully what they loved, what tormented them, what mattered to them. Now-a-days it is easy for me to shift from the “run for your lives, MOM IS PISSED!” mode into a full on, nag-worthy, “Can we please, PLEASE, PLLLLLEEEAAASEEE go to the movies???? Can we go dye our hair??? Can we go hang out at the beach with our kites??”

If you have any doubt in my ability to be a teenager, just ask my daughter and her friends. They will tell you I am full-on nuts, but 100% wildly fun. Well . . . until you pick on your little brother or dare to sass me.

Then it’s GAME-ON-EVIL-MOTHER MODE.

And yes – I will totally write my Mean Mom character into a novel at some point . . . as long as it fits with the audience I am writing for. As for now, I work exclusively for the teens I strive to please, and always, always for my fans.

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5 Steps to Getting Published

5 Steps to Getting Published - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by Christopher Morgan

Whether it’s skydiving, visiting the Taj Mahal, riding an elephant or learning to play the piano, everyone has that bucket list they’re trying to work through before they die. Having done all of these things myself already, my own bucket list is much smaller nowadays but one of the last remaining entries was to publish a novel.

This year, however, I was successful at putting a check into that box with the release of Forestium: The Mirror Never Lies. If you’ve ever wanted to put a check into that box, here are the 5 things you’ll need to do.

Step 1 – Turn intention into action

It might sound straightforward enough but the truth is that the vast majority of people that intend to write a novel never actually start. Sadly, the majority of people that start don’t even finish it either, and many of those that do get that far never cross the final hurdle of actually getting their book published. Overcoming this mental hurdle and believing in yourself is the very first, all-important step towards your goal of seeing your book in print.

Step 2 – Write something

Whether there’s something that you’ve always wanted to write or whether you are inventive enough to conjure up something on the spot, your book content is your next hurdle. Many people think that this is the hardest past of the process but that’s not necessarily the case. Don’t worry about making it perfect – just get something down first. You can always go back and make improvements.

Step 3 – Editing

There will be lots of opportunity along your journey to try to scrimp and save and do things on the cheap. This isn’t one of those. Don’t try to do this yourself! Get a professional to assist. Once you have finished your last chapter, the real work begins and it should start with you going over everything yourself – repeatedly – to make changes, corrections, tweaks, adjustments, etc. Then, solicit some beta readers to give you an honest assessment. These should be strangers that have no investment in wanting to spare your feelings. Your Mum will love your work and your friends and family will probably tell you it’s terrific. Ignore them all and get total strangers to give you the honest feedback you’ll need at this point. When you’ve done all of this, engage a professional editor to go over it all. You’ll be surprised at just how much better a good editor can make your manuscript.

Step 4 – Book cover

People do judge a book by its cover, so make sure it’s a good one. Yes, you can make a book cover cheaply and with readily available software programs like Microsoft Word but this is another area where money could be very well spent. The right book cover can make or break a book, so it’s worth spending a lot of attention on this. Engaging with a book cover designer is likely to be money very well spent.

Step 5 – Getting published

Sounds easy, right? Well, the truth is that it can be – depending on which route you take. When it comes to publishing, authors fall into two broad categories: Traditional (trad) or Independent (indie). The trad publishing route typically involves engaging with an agent, who then sells your idea to a publishing house, or at least tries to. This can and does work well for a lot of people. The catch is that you have to pay a percentage to the agent and also to the publisher. But, if all goes well, your book will be marketed far and wide. The downside is that you lose a percentage of your book sales, as the agent and publisher each take their cut. If you publish the book yourself, which is quite easily done nowadays, you’ll retain more of the profits for yourself, although it can be hard work competing against the traditional publishing marketing machines and will definitely require a lot more work on your part.

Don’t forget to check out our awesome giveaway here!

In Defense of Insta-Love

In Defense of Insta-Love - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by K. R. Conway.

I do three things when I’m trolling the aisles of heaven (re: bookstore), searching for a few new books to burn my paycheck on:

  1. Seek out a kick-ass cover.
  2. Read the back jacket.
  3. Read the first page . . . and maybe the Goodreads reviews.

Let me tell ya – I’ve learned one thing about Goodreads and that’s that many readers apparently hate any novels with “insta-love,” but I’m calling out their whining as “bullshit.”

Why?

Because they’ve done it themselves. Repeatedly.

Let’s face it – novels have plenty of this “insta-love” thing going on, BUT I find that it’s (usually) not actually insta-love. It’s insta-LUST and lemme tell ya – we’ve ALL been there.

And lust . . . is dangerous. Forbidden.

Yet we don’t care, ’cause, baby,  we LOVE to lust.

We’ve drooled over the movie star, licked the Abercrombie bag (well, I have), and mentally stripped the barista hottie who’s serving Starbucks (yes, we females are just as guilty of doing it as the males, but we’re sneakier about it). Fellow writer Trisha Leaver would no doubt shove me from her car and haul butt for her TV if she realized the new season of Outlander had suddenly appeared because, well . . . hot Scot in a kilt! (FYI – it’s not on yet, damn it).

Adam Driver - Kylo Ren

Adam Driver is “Kylo Ren” in Star Wars, The Force Awakens

And Lust can corrupt your sanity and your morals. Take, for horrifying instance, my teen daughter: she’s totally in love with Kylo Ren from Star Wars. The second that jerk took his helmet off on the big screen and tried to suck the brain cells out of Rey, my daughter was drooling. DROOLING. Hello? RESIST THE DARKSIDE, GIRL! That’s lust.

And honestly, I’ve never known love-at-first-sight, but I’ve totally known LUST at first sight. Sometimes it evolves into love, other times . . . meh. More importantly, if you go back and really read all those book which have been labeled as “insta-love,” you’ll realize that they are actually insta-lust, which happens every second of every day.

I guess my point is that you can’t bash insta-love because it’s a truth of life (just sorta misnamed by readers). I tried to cover every variation of love in my books because I’ve known all the variations through my friends, family, and my own life.

For many, MANY people, lust usually comes first (Eila for Raef). If you’re lucky, it evolves into love (Raef for Eila). And sometimes hate comes first, then a slow “like,” then love (Ana and Kian). And sometimes lust comes first, but eventually burns both people out and they end up loathing one another while plotting one another’s murders (Collette and Kian).

And other times, a cautious friendship starts first, then love, then lust (Christian and Elizabeth).

But you can’t bash insta-love / lust because you think it’s cliché.

It’s not and we all know you’ve done the insta-love / lust thing with the movies, TV, books, and the Chris Helmsworth lookalike working on the roof next door. Even freakin’ love triangles are real (what a nightmare, FYI – in real life, it’s a major pain in the ass).

So, if I have no issue with insta-love / lust and love triangles in books, then what do I loathe in a novel? That’s easy: dumb heroines and crappy characters. Bad writing and thin storylines.

So, yeah – I’m calling out all you insta-love haters because we all know you’ve done it, multiple times, and lust is good for ya. If you’re gonna whine and protest about something, protest bad writing. Protest shallow characters, boring stories, and weak females, but not the lust.

Because, quite frankly, lust makes the world go round.

You can see Kate’s original Blog Post here.

Most Popular YA Quotes

The Hunger Games Quote - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by Christopher Morgan

Most popular quotes from the most popular young adult authors

Have you ever pondered a popular quote from a popular author? Ever read something and thought Wow! That’s just too good not to share? Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, now anyone can share a special quote with everyone.

Of course, just because you find interesting or poignant, that doesn’t mean others will, right? Well, what if lots of people find the same quote interesting?

Here’s a summary of the top 2 most popular quotes taken from the most popular young adult titles as reported by Kindle readers…

The Matchmaker’s Playbook – Rachel Van Dyken
1) It wasn’t that it had been too long without a girl. It was that it’d been a lifetime without the right one.
2) Lex: Every night after practice he eats at Asian Fusion. Gross. You’ll find General Tso at his usual spot.

A Shade of Vampire 2 – Bella Forest
1) Just because sandcastles are temporary, it never stopped me from making them as beautiful as possible.
2) Derek was to wake once it was time to find the girl who would help him fulfill his destiny.”

A Shade of Vampire 3 – Bella Forest
1) Let the sandcastle collapse. In its place, I will build a fortress—one that the waves of nature and time could never destroy.
2) I might have underestimated my father, but he had no idea how much he had just underestimated me.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
1) The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.
2) District Twelve. Where you can starve to death in safety,

A Shade of Vampire 5 – Bella Forest
1) I know an excuse when I hear one. Don’t you dare deceive yourself into believing that you’re the victim, Derek Novak.
2) eighteen-year-old Sofia Claremont made five-hundred-year-old me feel like a boy.

A Shade of Vampire 6 – Bella Forest
1) we hold our fate in our hands. We always have a choice. Don’t settle for less than the future that you dream of with her.
2) You are who you choose to be. No matter how much light is shed upon you, if you still choose to remain in darkness, that’s your doing, not anyone else’s.

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
1) It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.
2) And it takes too much energy to stay angry with someone who cries so much.

A Shade of Vampire 7 – Bella Forest
1) You’re no stranger to storms. The waves may rage, but you can rise above them.
2) All of the bad and good things that come with living become worthwhile once we find love.

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
1) Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.
2) Life in District 12 isn’t really so different from life in the arena. At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead.

Shades of Vampire 24 – Bella Forest
1) I was left to ponder over the power of a simple apology. A taming of one’s ego, an admission of being fallible… the effect that these things could have on a relationship was profound. I couldn’t help but feel that if more people were ready to apologize in the world, it would be a brighter, happier place.
2) Those ghouls really should charge for their service. Ghoul rehab. Guaranteed results for the assholes in your family.

The Banished of Muirwood – Jeff Wheeler
1) A friend does not abandon a friend during troubled times. That is when the friendship is needed most.
2) I have learned, mostly through painful experience, never to be dismissive of a friend’s accusation, even if it seems unreasonable. More often than not, it is well-meant, the truth, and something I have needed to hear but did not want to. It is an easy thing to be offended. It is difficult to learn something new about ourselves.

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
1) If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
2) May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks,

The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
1) The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.
2) I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

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Book Review and Rating Myths

Book Reviews - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by L. J. Higgins

The book review. Something every author needs and wants. They can simultaneously drive them crazy and make them want to cry and have them smiling from ear to ear. But while reviews are important to authors, I don’t think readers realise how vital they are to not only authors but also themselves. Reading reviews and ratings can help you gauge if a book is worth your money and time, and if it’s the right book for you.

Reasons you should leave a review:

  • For your fellow readers – Reviews are a way for readers to help other readers. By reading through them or glancing over a books star rating you can decide if it is a book you are interested in or not. If every reader gave a quick star rating and review of each book they read, then it would make it much easier for others to find their next favourite book.
  • Meet other book lovers – Through sites such as Goodreads, reviewing books and sharing your love for them can help you meet readers and authors who enjoy the same books you do.
  • To thank the Author who wrote it – Authors not only need reviews, they love hearing what you honestly thought about the story they put so many hours, weeks, months, even years into.

Myths about Reviews:

  • They have to be long and detailed – No they don’t. The only thing they NEED to be is honest. Even one to two lines can be enough to let people know what you thought of a book. Yes, you are more than welcome to write a review that breaks down characters, plot etc. But you don’t have to. It’s your choice.
  • Reviews have to be nice – Reviews are the one time you can ignore the saying ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.’ Reviews are there to not only help readers decide if it is the book for them, but also to help authors learn what their audience loves and dislikes about their books. This helps them grow and learn as writers, so really your HONEST review is helping your favourite authors become the best they can be.
  • You can be mean in reviews – Okay, now I have to take back my words and remind you of the saying, ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.’ Reviews are meant to be honest, not mean. There is no need to personally attack the author or the morals you don’t agree with in the story. Remember, just because the author wrote it, doesn’t mean it is their opinion. Stories are made up, as are the characters, and sometimes characters do or say things that we don’t necessarily approve of as an author, but feel it helps the story in some way.
  • 3 Stars mean a book is bad – For many authors, anything over 2 stars is great. Accompanied with an honest review a 3 star rating can show an author that although you liked their book there were a few things that could be worked on. Here is a rough idea of what star ratings mean on Amazon.

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So there you have it. Writing reviews and rating books isn’t as scary as many people think. You don’t need to be a writer yourself to leave one that is helpful, and you are not only helping an author when you leave one, your helping other readers like yourself. So next time you read a book take ten minutes to head to Amazon or Goodreads to let them know what you honestly thought about their book. You will make an authors and possibly a readers day!

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Author Spotlight: G.K. Derosa

gk-derosa   By Michelle Lynn

What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?
I have one book series out called Wilder: The Guardian Series – there are 4 books in the series plus a companion novella. The story is about a young girl in her senior year of high school who discovers a huge family secret after a pair of handsome brothers move into her small town.

Who’s your favorite character from your books?
I really love my main character, Celeste Wilder. I wanted to have a strong female heroine as the lead and I think she embodies that. Sure she’s silly and naïve sometimes, she is only 17 after all, but she’s also strong and resilient and can kick some butt!

Your series is a great vampire tale. Is there a reason you chose to write about these supernatural creatures?
Who doesn’t love a good vampire story right? I know it’s been done a lot with Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood etc. but there’s a reason why we all keep coming back for more! There’s something so thrilling about the idea of eternal love and then of course there’s the whole bad boy thing. So that’s why J

Whenever a story has a human falling in love with someone who isn’t so human, there are complications – sometimes insurmountable ones. Some books such as Twilight or the Vampire Diaries solve this by simply turning their human into a vampire. You didn’t take such an easy route. How did you deal with these types of issues?
It’s true, it is a difficult challenge but from the moment I started the first book, I knew what I wanted to do with that. I don’t want to give away too much but that’s the beauty about writing YA fantasy, you aren’t constrained to anything. If you can think of a way to deal with a problem and explain it somewhat logically or “realistically”, you can accomplish anything you want in the story telling. 

You’ve chosen not to have a singular supernatural focus in your books. Along with vampires, you have werewolves, witches, fairies, and of course – the guardians. How did you keep all of this straight as you were writing it?
As you mentioned, there are so many vampire stories out there and I didn’t want Wilder to be just another vampire book. I think adding other supernatural creatures and mystical elements makes for a more interesting story. This way the characters all have their unique powers they bring into the mix.

Were there alternate endings that you considered?
Yes there definitely were a few different options I toyed with regarding Aleks and Lilliana. Again I don’t want to give away too much, but after you read it, if you want to know, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to tell you the alternate endings I had in mind. As for Celeste, Roman and Nico I knew from the beginning how I wanted it all to end.

What authors have inspired you to write?
I’m obviously a big fan of YA myself and have read a ton of it! I loved the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and read the series about 4 times already. Then there are authors like Stephenie Meyer and LJ Smith who wrote Twilight and The Vampire Diaries. They inspired me in a different way – no offense to their writing, but after reading their series it made me think I could totally do this!

What age were you when you started writing?
Honestly, I loved writing when I was back in grade school and middle school but then I totally lost track of it. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s that I picked it up again. Wilder was the first novel I wrote and published.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Sure, I think it’s impossible not to, but it happens pretty rarely luckily! I have a very active imagination and love conjuring up the different scenes in my head.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
For my first book, Wilder, I just wrote. I really had no idea what I was doing to be honest! I got more organized after that and you can probably tell if you’ve read the whole series! Even by my last book Wilder Legacy, I still didn’t do a very detailed outline. I like my characters to dictate where the story goes.

Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?
Yes! I was so depressed when I wrote the last book in the series because I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t going to be able to spend time with my characters anymore. You definitely get attached and they become like real people to you.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I decided to self-publish from the get go so I never went through the thrill of rejection from publishers 😉 But I also had no idea what I was doing in self-publishing. I thought writing the book was going to be the hard part, but I was totally wrong. From finding an editor to a graphic designer to formatting and not to mention the all-important marketing, there were so many things to do. But it was totally worth it and I’m so glad that I did it on my own.

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?
Not really… except I wish I had known more about marketing and advertising from the beginning. That would have been extremely helpful!

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Wilder is currently included in Dark Legends which is a collection of urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels with 20 other amazing authors. That has been a huge project that has been quite time consuming lately. I am going to start working on a spin-off of Wilder that I’ve had in mind since I started on the last book. This is actually the first time I’m really talking about it, but it will feature some of everyone’s favorite characters in Oak Bluffs. I’ll give you a little teaser – a hot younger Constantin brother will be one of the stars J But… the main character will again be a female and I think you’re really going to love her.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Oh man, I had one review on Goodreads that was like 10 paragraphs long and she went through and quoted several lines from Wilder and tore it apart. Her criticism ranged from punctuation to dialog to overall plot. She was brutal! Mind you, this person was given the book for free for review! I’m really lucky that I get a lot of great reviews from my fans and they leave lots of wonderful comments on my website. I absolutely love hearing from them. One of my favorites, is this lovely lady who said she could totally see Wilder as a TV show on the CW! She’s an awesome supporter!

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
As Nike says, Just do it! As daunting as it may seem, writing and publishing your novel is incredibly rewarding, not to mention fun! I never thought I could make a career out of something that I enjoy doing so much. Never give up and no matter how scary it is, put your book out there and let people read it. It’s totally worth it!

What others are saying about G.K. Derosa:

“This story has layers upon layers of things happening that all somehow are interconnected. It’s like a bunch of story-lines melded into on in an exciting fashion. Ms. Derosa has once again impressed me, entertained me, and made me want more. She can count me as a fan.” 

“With twist and turns, and a new take on vampires, along with likable characters you root for from the very beginning, I found myself drawn into this world so immensely, that I read the entire thing in one day.”


G.K. Derosa is found at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

G.K. Derosa is online HERE.

Michelle Lynn is found at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

Author Spotlight: Gina Azzi

Young Adult Author Rendezvous Author: Gina AzziInterview by Michelle Lynn.

An interview with author Gina Azzi.

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

Sure! My books are in the young adult and new adult genres. The first book I wrote is entitled Corner of Ocean and Bay. It’s a mature young adult novel that highlights the friendship of Nessa and Jacie during the summer before their senior year of high school. Primarily focusing on teen topics such as underage drinking, family issues, and first loves, the novel explores how Nessa and Jacie navigate these challenges and the impact certain situations have on their friendship.

After writing Corner of Ocean and Bay, I started working on The Senior Semester Series, a new adult and college romance series that follows four best friends as they embark on their senior year of college, new adventures, and love interests! The first book in the series, The Last First Game, focuses on Lila Avers as she completes a medical internship in California and meets football player Cade Wilkins at the airport! Their romance is a whirlwind but things grow complicated as Cade deals with the fallout of a sudden illness and Lila struggles to be there for him. The second book in the series, Kiss Me Goodnight in Rome, follows Mia Petrella to Italy and chronicles her romance with hot Italiano Lorenzo Barca. This book deals with body image issues, family financial concerns, and a looming long-distance relationship. The third book in the series, All the While, focuses on Maura Rodriguez and Zack Huntington and will release January 17, 2017. And the final book is Emma’s Story which is set to release next Spring.

Who’s your favorite character from your books?

Ah, what a tough question! I really like Lila a lot – I think she’s really laidback, fun, and easy to get along with. At the same time, she’s incredibly loyal, family-oriented, and genuine. I also really enjoyed writing Lorenzo’s character as he is rough around the edges, a bit arrogant, and pretty cocky before he falls for Mia.

In your book, The Last First Game, you tackle some pretty huge issues – namely cancer and sexual abuse. Is there a reason you chose to write about these massive topics?

In all of my books, I try to write about themes that are relatable and age-appropriate. The cancer element was really difficult to write about but it’s also something that most people can relate to – having known someone close to them that is struggling with an illness. How do they cope and handle these challenges? How does it change their relationship with this person? Sexual assault was a really important topic for me to include since statistics show that 1 in 5 women on college campuses experience sexual assault. That is mind boggling! It’s also a topic that is finally being covered in the media, discussed in politics, and receiving attention and education on college campuses. The Obama Administration launched the It’s on Us campaign in 2014 to combat sexual assault on college campuses. I think it’s a huge issue that deserves attention and awareness and I wanted to help do so through The Last First Game.

What advice would you give to someone writing about a topic that people tend to have very strong opinions on?

Be sensitive to the opinions of others, be factual in the information you provide, but never be afraid to write about something you believe in/believe deserves attention.

Amidst these big things that are happening to Lila and Cade, you manage to give them some normalcy as they fall in love and learn to rely on each other. Was this difficult?

It wasn’t that difficult since it’s very common for young people to experience a lot of challenges or things that bring them stress and pressure – and in the midst of all of that, still fall in love, form meaningful friendships, have these important relationships with other people. I think people are always dealing with things that are difficult for them but at the same time, trying to cultivate a support system is important, and connections with other people can’t be overlooked.

Were there alternate endings that you considered?

No! haha! I was pretty set on the ending of The Last First Game – I actually wrote it before I finished a good portion of the middle bit!

What authors have inspired you to write?

I’ve always loved reading – I was totally that kid that read under the covers by flashlight at night! Some of my favorite books growing up were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Harry Potter – all of these books and more and so many talented authors have inspired me in different ways to write.

What age were you when you started writing?

Super young! I suppose about 7 or 8 – I used to write and illustrate stories to read to my friends!

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Totally! Sometimes I have to take a step back from my work for several days and just do something completely unrelated before I can go back to it. Having that break from the story usually helps me look at the content with a fresh perspective.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

A little of both. I usually make a general outline with major plot points, themes, scenes and then just free write from there. Most of the time, I begin without knowing the ending and at some point, I sort it out and then write the ending, sometimes before I finish how the story arrives at that conclusion.

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

Haha not really – they’re real to me because they exist in my mind anyway!

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

It was totally trial and error. I went the self-publishing route as I liked the idea of having complete creative control. I did some research about how to go about the process and spoke with some other self-published authors. Through learning about their experiences – and reading a lot of blogs! – I learned about how to find an editor, a cover designer, a formatter. Little by little it fell into place. Something I love about the self-publishing route is it’s a constant state of learning – and that is pretty exciting by itself!

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?

No – mainly because I really enjoyed the learning process and feel like every step of my journey has gotten me to where I am today. It’s tough to skip steps and even the mistakes I’ve made have taught me a lesson. I think experiencing these lessons first-hand is really important for me in order to value what I do and to encourage me to keep writing.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Sure! All the While is a new adult, college romance book releasing on January 17, 2017. Here’s the blurb:

Consumed with grief for her twin brother Adrian’s death, Maura Rodriguez is spinning out of control. To cope with Adrian’s loss, she numbs her pain with bottles of vodka and sex with random men.

Consumed with guilt for his best friend Adrian’s death, Zack Huntington is yearning for a past that no longer exists. Reaching out to the familiarity and comfort an ex-girlfriend offers, Zack aims to recreate what once was but can never be again.

When their worlds collide while running on the trails along Boathouse Row, Maura and Zack find comfort in each other and in the memory of their shared connection, Adrian.

From their unlikely friendship grows an undeniable attraction, an irrefutable desire, and an unexpected love. While Maura and Zack struggle to heal, to forgive, to accept, they also learn how to let go and allow themselves to fall in love, a truth they’ve both known but resisted all the while.

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

The toughest criticism has been that my characters lack depth. That’s hard to hear as I really want my characters to resonate with readers and if they’re not, then I have to try harder to create more layers for them. Another criticism is the lack of sexual content in my books – I tend to imply sexual encounters rather than write more graphic content. The best compliment is when people tell me how much they could relate to a character and understand his/her challenges, point of view, experiences. That makes me super happy!

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing! If it’s something you love to do, keep it up – even if it’s for your own peace of mind!

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I’m not sure – I like to write at coffee houses and cafes with my Spotify playlists and a sweet treat! I feel like that sounds pretty boring though.

What others are saying about Gina Azzi:

“This book tackled some very serious issues and it did so with a cautiousness I appreciated. I think it was a true representation of what might happen to a very young, very new couple when faced with these issues. They were very human.”

“Her characters are well-drawn, realistic, and could be people that you actually know (or knew). Her stories are invariably sweet and romantic, stories written about love and all the highs and lows that go with it.”

Find Gina on Amazon

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