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YA Author Rendezvous

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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

YA Author Rendezvous

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Character Inspiration: People You Know

Character Inpiration: People You Know by Author Lauren Mayhew

Character Inspiration People You Know - Lauren Mayhew Author - YA Author RendezvousThis one may seem obvious, but I think it’s worth writing about. You don’t have to copy someone that you know completely, as that may be a bit too obvious if they ever pick your book up, but you can take certain traits from them.

For example, my first book ‘Reality is in a Dream’ has two characters that are exaggerated forms of two of my old school friends. Certain events that take place in the book involving the main character, Liliana, actually took place during my time at school. It’s quite funny, because I once had a reviewer tell me that she thought these character’s actions were not believable, and yet it actually happened to me.

Obviously, you don’t need to take their names, you don’t want anyone to be offended, especially if the character is one of the villains, but certain things that they may have said, or small mannerisms are a great way to begin the development of a character.

“Write what you know.” – Mark Twain. In the case of characters, I feel this to be true. It’s much easier to write about someone that you know, rather than starting a character from scratch. If you’ve been bullied in the past, use that bully to write a character with an unsavoury nature. If someone has said something that made you feel happy, use it. It’s as simple as that.

Many authors take reference from people that they’ve encountered in real life, and use them to create some of the best characters ever written. For example, Hermione Granger is based on J.K. Rowling. Rowling herself admitted that she was so like Hermione in school, and so she put a little of herself into the Harry Potter world.

You’ll be surprised how quickly a character can blossom into something you didn’t expect, taking your story places you never thought it could go. You may start off being inspired by somebody that you know, or at least knew a long time ago, but they’ll usually end up being completely different by the last page.


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

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted on the YAAR website with the express permission of Lauren Mayhew.

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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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A Review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Written by Lauren Mayhew

***I’ve tried my hardest not to put any spoilers in this, but if you don’t want to know anything about this play, it’s probably best not to read my review!***

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling - Young Adult Author RendezvousHarry Potter and the Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling – 4 Stars

Blurb: It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I was so excited to read this, and though I tried to hang on in the hope that I’d see it on stage first, I couldn’t. Tickets are almost impossible to get, and when it comes to Harry Potter, I have no willpower.

The fact that I managed to read this in the space of a few hours is a testament to how good it is. I couldn’t put it down – I just had to know how it would end.

I’m not going to spoil anything, so this may be a bit of a cryptic review.

However much I loved this play, I couldn’t give it 5 stars. It had nothing to do with the format, I quite enjoy reading plays. You get to skip a lot of unnecessary description, and the story moves along a lot quicker.

It was the actions of certain characters that docked a star. I won’t name names, don’t worry. One character in particular, one of my favourites, seemed very dumbed down and a bit of a loser. This was not what I was expecting from them and I was disappointed that my favourite character had changed so much.

A few other events take place with two other characters that were so unbelievable to me. I refuse to believe that one of the most good-hearted characters would ever turn bad. I can’t think of a way to describe the other characters’ actions without giving anything away.

I loved the appearance of the original Harry Potter characters, even though a few of them seemed a little different than before. I especially loved Draco’s appearance in this. He’s still the same old Draco, but there’s definitely some good in him too.

Overall I loved it, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who can’t make it to see it performed on stage. Hopefully I can get tickets one day!

Now I live in hope that J.K. Rowling will write something about the Maurauders. I’d love to know what they got up to at Hogwarts!!

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It’s National Dog Day – Do you know your Harry Potter dogs?

Written by Cynthia Port.

In honor of Rowling’s latest release and National Dog Day, let’s see how many dogs of the Wizarding World YOU can name.

A pair of adorable pups probably come to mind right away: Fang and Fluffy.

Fang - Harry Potter - National Dog DayFang is described as a Boarhound, but that is actually another name for a Great Dane, so yes indeedy, Fang is a giant, black Great Dane. I imagine him like the tallest Great Dane in the world, George, who was 7’3” long from his rubbery nose to the end of his ouch-my-face-is-not-a-windshield tail.  Sadly, George passed away in 2013, but he will forever live on in the scratches he left at the top of his family’s refrigerator. It doesn’t seem fair, but large dogs do not live as long as smaller ones. I hate to think how many raw steaks Hagrid will need to hold over his swollen eyes when Fang must leave him.

Fluffy - Harry Potter - National Dog DayFluffy is the large, vicious, three-headed dog that guarded the Philosopher’s Stone and could only be tamed through music. I love the idea of a three-headed dog.  You get three times the adorable, loving stares and only one part of the . . . you know.  In The Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid explains that he got Fluffy from “a Greek chappie.”  Rowling is showing off her impressive knowledge of ancient myths and legends with this off-hand remark, as Greek mythology is replete with three–headed canines, also known as hellhounds.  The most famous of the pack, Cerberus, guarded the entrance to the Underworld.

Hercules -Harry Potter - National Dog DayA Greek amphora from 500 BC showing us Hercules taming a two-headed Cerberus, (apparently by singing to him since I don’t see an instrument).  I’m not sure what happened to head number three, but I guess you can afford to lose your head when you’ve got a couple of spares.

Ripper - Harry Potter - Natonal Dog DayRemember him?  Maybe not, because despite his impressive name, he is a decidedly non-magical creature.  Ripper is the favorite of Harry’s Aunt Marge’s twelve bulldogs. He once chased Harry into a tree, which wasn’t very nice, but he also sunk his teeth into Vernon’s leg, so there’s that.

Crup - Harry Potter - National Dog DayWhat?  You didn’t think of Crups?  That’s okay, they only get one quick mention in The Order of the Phoenix, as creatures studied in Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class.Flying Jack Russell - Harry Potter - National Dog Day

Crups are wizard-bred dogs that look like Jack Russell terriers, except that they have forked tails.  Popular singer Celestine Warbeck is known to be a breeder of Crups. The Jack Russell in this picture may or may not have a forked tail, but he sure looks magical! Accio Crup!!

Ron's Patronus - Harry Potter - National Dog DayThat’s right, Ron’s Patronus, his alter-self, is a dog—a loyal if not altogether bright creature. The choice of a Jack Russell for Ron was a sentimental one, because Rowling once had one for a pet. Going with the red hair theme, I would have picked an Irish Setter, but that was probably too obvious. So obvious, in fact, that my patronus is probably a dog . . .

The Grim - Harry Potter - National Dog DayThe Grim is the omen of death in the form of a giant, shaggy black dog that Harry didn’t actually see.  Oh, he did see a dog, but it didn’t turn out to be the Grim, and Harry did not die.  Several dogs could be the source of Rowling’s Grim, including the Black Shuck of English folklore and the Cu Sith of Scottish mythology, both of which signal death.  Grim - Harry Potter - National Dog DayThere’s also the Church Grim of Scandinavian and English folklore, a guardian spirit that guards churchyards after being buried alive there for that purpose. Shudder.  A description of the appearance of the Black Shuck at a church in Suffolk, England in 1577 starts with: A Straunge and Terrible Wunder wrought very late….

There is also mention of two dogs owned by Hermione’s parents after she modified their memories and sent them to live in nice, safe Australia (and I’m going to pretend they were dingos), and Hagrid compares baby Aragog to a Pekingese in size. How sweet. Additional dog mentions occur in the Harry Potter films, video games, companion books, and on Pottermore.  You can learn about them all at http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Dogs

Dinky - Harry Potter - National Dog DayIt’s no surprise that dogs sniff their way into Rowling’s books; if humans cannot live without the furry, tail wagging wonderfulness that is dogs, why would wizards want to do so?  Only problem is, Dinky, the Great Dane in my middle grade book series, can’t stop drooling over the fact that Fang is also a Dane.  Suddenly he is a Fang Fandog!  Down Dinky, down!  Yes, I will get you a Fang poster for your doghouse, but in the meantime, my face is not a windshield!  Ow!

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Author Spotlight: Cynthia Port

Author Cynthia PortInterview by T.D. Shields

An Interview with Cynthia Port.

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

Who me? I’m a corn-fed, southern Indiana gal. One summer my mother and I challenged each other to eat corn on the cob every day, and it was no challenge at all. After living hither and thither for college, grad school and postdoctoral work, I ended up back in my hometown, which is a delight. My husband and I have two children, ages 15 and 10, and an advanced model cat (she’s a calico). When I am not writing fiction, I write and edit scientific grants and manuscripts for medical researchers at universities across the country.

When and why did you begin writing?

Author Cynthia Port - Writing Career
The cast that launched a writing career!

They say make lemonade when you’re handed lemons, right? I feel like I made lemonade from vinegar. A few years back I ruptured my Achilles tendon while taking a self-defense class (you know, to keep myself SAFE ha ha). As it was healing, I managed to re-rupture it, requiring major reconstructive surgery and a 6-month recuperation. I needed a 100% sit down hobby to keep me sane, and I had this story I’d been thinking about writing. Those six months evaporated, and I fell in love with writing novels.

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

I have two books published in my humorous fiction Kibble Talk series, with number three on the way. I also have a short story about cats in space that was originally written for a sci-fi anthology. All my books and stories are available on Amazon.

What project are you working on now?

In addition to number three of the Kibble Talk series, I’m doing final edits on an historical fiction novel set in the Australian Outback. There’s some humor in it, but also more serious themes, including the rabbit plague, the Stolen Generation, and the repatriation of remains. I’ve been working on this book for four years, and it’s got my heart in it.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time to write, and by that I mean several hours a day. I can’t “dabble” at writing; I need to be immersed in it for the characters to speak to me and the words to flow.

What is the best thing about writing?

Ah, so many things. The creative process itself is energizing for me, as is getting to share my books with others. An unexpected pleasure is that moment when you are reading what you’ve written and it feels like someone else, someone who’s a better writer than you, must have written it.

Just for fun… What toppings do you like on your pizza?

I’m a gluten free vegan (one of THOSE people), so let’s start with the GF crust, then put on some vegan pesto sauce and every vegetable you can pile and shoehorn onto its surface! Okay, but especially olives. I can’t get enough olives.

What book are you reading now?

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani. Mesmerizingly beautiful. Also finishing a beta read for a friend, which happens to be an historical fiction/romance set in the civil war.

Who are your favorite authors?

I re-read Richard Adam’s Watership Down every 4 or 5 years. To me, it is perfection. Favorite writers generally are John Steinbeck and Harper Lee. For middle grade books my favorites are Holes by Louis Sachar, Rules by Cynthia Lord, and the Harry Potter series. In general, I like dense, descriptive writing, though that’s not at all what my books are like. I don’t think I could write it sufficiently well to please myself—maybe someday, but not yet.

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

My Facebook author page is a great place to find me (CynthiaPortBooks) or my website by the same name. I always enjoy hearing from readers or potential readers or people who want to know where to send me a gluten free vegan pizza.

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

Do you know a hardworking teacher of second to 6th graders? Please have them get in touch with me via FB or my website about my Free Books to Teachers Program. I will send them a free, signed, print copy of Kibble Talk, along with fun classroom materials and free bookmarks for their students, and will even do a FREE author visit to their classroom via Skype. Summer is a great time for teachers to preview fun new classroom read-alouds.

You can find information about Cynthia’s books here!

Are Writers Like Voldemort?

Written by Christopher Mannino 

Two recent reviews compared School of Deaths to the Harry
Potter series. I decided to play on that a bit with this question: are
writers like Voldemort?

I say YES.
The first similarity is that both writers and Voldemort use magic.
Voldemort’s magic mostly involves torturing and killing people.
He seems especially obsessed with a teenage boy, and finds ways
to get into the boy’s mind.  A writer also uses
magic.  Writers use a group of arcane symbols arranged into
clumps they call words.  Like a spell, they can take an image,
something that only exists as a slight fancy in their imagination, and
dump it into the imaination of their reader.  As I type, an
elephant walked in front of my window stinking of manure.  Did
you picture an elephant, or smell manure?  What if I then told
you there was no elephant?  That transference is the most real
form of magic imaginable….
“Writing is magic.” – Stephen King,
On Writing
 
Another striking similarity is in what both writers and Voldemort
want: eternal life.  Voldemort is obsessed with the idea of
immortality.  He kills people to create horcruxes, ironially
causing his own downfall and death, when one of the horcruxes fights
back.  Writers are no different.  It’s true that many might
simply want to share their ideas, but in the end, by creating stories
that will endure, a writer has taken part of their soul and created
something eternal: a part of their soul that can be shared in
another’s mind, and could last forever.  Sounds a lot like making
horcruxes- only without all the murders.
So what do you think?  Are writers like Voldemort?
Also, don’t miss this stellar review for School of Deaths:  http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=20235
 

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