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Thursday, March 22, 2012

INTERVIEW: LINDA JOY SINGLETON

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Linda Joy Singleton, whose latest release Buried: a Goth Girl Mystery is a spin-off from The Seer series starting Goth Girl Thorn from Flux.


"In the second Seer, Last Dance, Thorn's strong character was starting to take over the story," Linda told me. "I purposely kept her out of most of the next books in The Seer series. But when my publisher wanted to end The Seer, but continue on with the character Thorn, I gave her a big storyline in the final Seer book, Magician's Muse. One scene in particular, where a ditzy girl is holding the weapon in a murder much to the shock of Thorn, struck me as so funny when I wrote this scene that I burst out laughing. Also, I went to Nevada for research for Buried which is always fun. My publisher wanted the spin-off to have a new setting and since my family often goes to Reno, I chose that area for my story, although the town of Nevada Bluff's is totally fiction; based on the area between Reno and Carson City."


Her publisher, Flux, is waiting to see how the sales of Buried go before offering her a contract on a series, Linda is going ahead with another book about Goth Girl Thorn titled Reaper.


"This one is more romantic and a road trip involving a missing girl, an impersonator, a seance and a zombie dance. I've written nearly 100 pages so far and am just having fun writing without a looming deadline," she said.


She told me that she never considered whether she wanted to write or not, she just wrote because it's part of who she is. She feels driven to write, as if she was born to create stories. She still has stories she wrote when she was nine years old; words were like toys to her.


"I wrote poems, short stories, forced my siblings to act our plays I wrote and played a 'pick a random title' writing game with my best friend," she remembered. "I submitted my first work at age fourteen and received very encouraging rejections. I've never had a writing class, though, as my school didn't offer it and I worked instead of going to college, so I taught myself through writing, reading and joining writing groups. I sold my first book at age thirty."


She first considered herself an "author" though when she discovered she had sold an article to a local magazine.


"At my critique group one friend asked why I hadn't told her I'd sold to this magazine, and she showed me my published article -- days before I got the official letter and check. I'll never forget that first payment: $17.50. I almost didn't want to cash it...but of course I did," she said with a grin.


When she was young, she loved mysteries like Joan Lowery Nixon, Lois Duncan, Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, and younger mysteries like Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, but it was the Judy Bolton series by Margaret Sutton that was special.


"It touched my heart in such a way that the characters felt like family to me. I wrote a fan letter to Margaret Sutton at age thirteen and not only did she reply but she encouraged my writing. When I was an adult, we co-write a new Judy Bolton mystery together titled The Talking Snowman."


She noticed that some YAs coming out remind her a lot of the adult romantic suspense novels she read by Victoria Holt, making her think that the YA market has blended with the adult market in a way.


"Lois Duncan's real life account of her daughter's murder in Who Killed My Daughter haunts me to this day, and is perhaps the reason I wanted to write about psychic characters. The real account of psychics and foretelling of terrible things in Duncan's book are fascinating and heart-breaking," she told me.


Linda usually starts with an interesting plot situation, then she grows the character from the conflict in the journey—pitting characters against each other or as allies for the changes ahead. For Buried, since Thorn is independent and shuns society, Linda matched her with a guy who is part of society, yet secretly fights for justice as a vigilante, so they have reasons to be friends as well as enemies. She also gave Thorn the conflict of wanting her family's respect, while at the same time needing to express her individuality. Thorn also has friends who are like her, so there are people she can trust.


"Each character comes out of the need to conflict/enhance other characters and ultimately the overall plot," she explained.


"What do you envision happening in the YA field in the next five to ten years?" I wondered.


"I have no idea -- things have been changing so fast. YA books were almost dead in the mid-90's when I wrote Sweet Dreams teen romances. These books about sixteen year olds with eighteen year olds on the covers were targeted to ten-fourteen year olds. Now that market would be called tween or even middle-grade. My The Seer series, which was first published in 2004, is younger in tone and style than most YA novels now. Readership of YA novels isn't limited to teens. I think the world is such a complicated place that adults turn to the genre they loved as teens for comfort reads. Or they simply recognize the quality of the genre with books like Hunger Games, Graceling, Matched, and Girl of Fire and Thorn. This is a golden age for teen books. Will it last another five or ten years? Probably but with less books from conventional publishing and more from online publishers."
Linda loves playing with titles, but many of them get changed during the editorial process so she's learned not to get too attached to them. The Seer was submitted as Psychic Sleuth. Another series, Regeneration, was originally going to be called Sci-Clones.


"Sometimes I am pleased with editorial title decisions, and other times not so much," she admitted. "But editors get the final decision and part of being a professional is accepting editorial changes gracefully."


When Linda was a little girl, she always admired homes with second stories.


"Stories, I guess, is a theme with me," she said with a grin, "and I can never get enough—fictional or architectural."


They built their own home, and her husband designed an upstairs office for her which opens from the staircase and has a turret-type corner with lots of windows.


"I have wind chimes hanging along the staircase rail, many bookshelves, cat decorations, black-cherry carpet and a wooden square for my desk," she described. "I love my office."


She does her creative writing in the morning and, after lunch/exercise, she comes back to her computer for social networking and sometimes playing Zynga games.


About the Author:
Linda Joy Singleton loves cats, biking, movies, chocolate and everything books. She's published over 35 YA and midgrade novels, mostly series including THE SEER, STRANGE ENCOUNTERS, REGENERATION, DEAD GIRL WALKING and new release BURIED: A GOTH GIRL Mystery. Her psychic series, THE SEER, has been in print since 2004, and spins off a favorite Goth character in BURIED: A GOTH GIRL Mystery. Linda advises authors who struggle in a changing publishing environment, "Never give up, be flexible and go for your dreams." For more writing advice plus an ongoing contest check out www.LindaJoySingleton.com.


Find the author online at:


www.twitter.com/lindajoysinglet

www.facebook.com/lindajoysingleton

www.livejournal.com/users/lindajsingleton


In a new school and determined to keep her secrets from being discovered, Thorn's psychometry skill leads her to a mysterious locket and the shocking discovery - ¬the unmarked grave of a newborn baby. Surrounded by new friends she barely knows, as well as the school’s famous former student, a smoking-hot musician named Phillipe, Thorn must investigate to find out if one of them is a murderer.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

INTERVIEW: PATRICE LYLE

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Patrice Lyle, a member of the Class of 2K12. Her debut novel Lethally Blonde was released last month.


Patrice is from a small fishing town, Astoria, in the most northwest corner of Oregon. Many movies have been filmed there—Patrice watched The Goonies being filmed, her elementary school was the one used in Kindergarten Cop, and Benji the Hunted and Free Willy were also filmed there. That's not her favorite thing about her hometown, though.


"My favorite thing about Astoria is a cannery called Wards Cove," she told me. "They’re no longer in business, but at the time they had several canneries in Alaska in addition to the one in Astoria. And in the summer of 1994, they agreed to send me to work in the office at one of their canneries on Kodiak Island called Alitak. But at the last moment (I totally remember getting the calling in my dorm room days before I was set to leave) they decided to send me to Port Bailey, their smaller cannery on Kodiak Island. It was only accessible by boat or floatplane. And there, in the middle of the rugged Alaskan wilderness, I met my fabulous husband, Dan! We’ve been together ever since."


Patrice loves telling stories. She started writing her first novel when she was ten years old.


"I was about these two sisters – surprisingly very similar to my sister and me," she said with a smile, "who go to visit their Aunt Judith in her haunted house. And all the scary and creepy things that happen to them, such as finding a big knife in a grave near their aunt’s house and a ghost in the stairwell. My stories have always had elements of mystery and the paranormal in them. My dad is retired from law enforcement, and my sister and I would sneak into his files and read about his murder cases… so I see where I got the mystery element. But as for the paranormal? Well, my great grandmother was psychic and I’ve always been intrigued by anything 'other worldly.'"


She'll be forty-one next week, so she's been writing for thirty-one years—although she admits some years have been more productive than others. She did a lot of writing after that first mystery novel, mostly cartoons and comics. In high school, she was a reporter for the high school paper and, also, on the yearbook staff.


"I had a really cool horoscope column in high school called Scope of the Month. My friend, Tami, and I made all this crazy stuff up and other students would tell us that it really happened!" She laughed. "Then I started college and I wasn’t as productive, except for a few plays and some angst-ridden poetry. After I got married in 1997, I became more serious about my writing. I wrote several full-length screenplays and many starts of novels. But I was kind of floundering so I applied to the Johns Hopkins creative writing program and they told me that I would be granted 'conditional admission.' I was like, what the heck does that mean? They said it was clear from my application that I was a gifted storyteller…but a very commercial one. So they would grant me admission for one term on the condition that I could become a literary writer. I was like, um, nope. That’s not me. So I applied to Seton Hill University’s Masters in Writing Popular Fiction and loved every second of it."


She originally wanted to major in creative writing in college, but her parents convinced her to get a degree in accounting instead. She had taken an accounting class in high school and it was an easy A for her, so her parents told her she's always be able to make a living with an accounting degree.


" Looking back, I’m glad I did because most creative writing programs in colleges focus on literary writing, as opposed to popular or genre fiction," she admitted. "Oh, and I did have a job before I graduated with my undergraduate degree. A boring accounting one, but a job nonetheless."


She also took graduate classes as Clayton College of Natural Health, where she earned a PhD is Holistic Nutrition.


Even though Lethally Blonde is her debut novel, it's actually her sixth completed novel. In all the books she's written, Patrice told me that the character came first.


"I was thinking about what to write next after the novel that had been taken on by a big agent didn’t sell (major heart break time) and I thought about movies I loved. Well, Legally Blonde instantly popped into my mind and I was like, what if Elle Woods were a teenage demon? And voila, Morgan Skully – the blonde fashion-loving demon in Lethally Blonde – was born. Or should that be spawned?" she asked with a laugh. "Character always drives the story for me. Once I come up with the character, then the plot naturally arises from her."


"Are you a plotter or a pantser?" I wondered.


"I’m what I call a 'reformed pantser.' Meaning that in my heart and soul, I’m a pantser. I love writing a story by the seat of my pants, breathlessly finding out what happens next as my fingers hit the keyboard. But I’ve written myself into so many corners that way so I had to change my ways. Now what I do is write the first three chapters pantser-style and then I plot out the rest of the book using an Excel spreadsheet to create a scene-by-scene outline of the book. Then I go back and finish the book. Sometimes things change as the story develops, but usually I stick to the outline."


Patrice walks three miles every morning on her treadmill and that's also her "fun reading" time –using her Kindle. She's recently read Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter, The Gossip Ghouls: Zombies and Lipstick by Z, and the entire Peachville High Demons series by Sarra Cannon.


"I’m also going to read all of the releases from the authors in 2K12, a group of debut YA and middle grade authors that I’m part of. Check out our website www.classof2k12.com for all the exciting releases!"


Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"


"My favorite piece of writing advice comes from the movie Throw Mama from the Train, when Billy Crystal – who plays a writing teacher – says, 'Writers write. Always.' So short, sweet, and totally true. Writers write and write and write. And then, of course, we revise and revise and revise. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to 'stay in the zone.' The zone – for me – is daily writing of a story until the first draft is completed. Then the revision zone is daily revision until it’s done. If I leave the zone of a story, it can be so hard to come back. Also, I highly recommend taking writing classes and going to workshops and conferences. The writing program I went to was the Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. It’s a fantastic program and well worth every cent."
About the Author:
Patrice Lyle grew up in Astoria, Oregon, where she watched several movies being filmed in her neighborhood; such as The Goonies, Free Willy and Kindergarten Cop. Seeing these stories “come to life” at a young age instilled in her a great love of storytelling. When she was nineteen, she embarked upon a European adventure to work as a nanny in Amsterdam with her sister; a trip that ended up being the greatest story of all. She returned home and eventually earned an MA in Writing Popular Fiction and a graduate degree in Holistic Nutrition. She now lives near Baltimore with her husband and three cats, where she divides her time between her two passions in life: helping people get healthy and writing YA paranormal novels. Please visit her website at www.PatriceBooks.com.


Other places to find the author online:


Patrice’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/patricebooks

Twitter: @Patrice_Lyle

Patrice’s Author Page at Leap Books: http://www.leapbks.com/patricelyle.htm

Patrice is part of The Class of 2k12 (a group of YA and middle grade authors debuting in 2012): http://www.classof2k12.com


If Elle Woods were a teenage demon, her name would be Morgan Skully. Morgan is the world's only blonde demon girl, and she's got a brand new, very unusual after school job. Spying for the Devil. She'd much rather use her cloak-and-dagger skills to spy on hottie-licious Derek with her friends, but the Devil won't take no for an answer. Luckily for Morgan, her new boss is kinda hot. Her assignment is simple: find out who at Pitchfork Prep is funneling secrets to the Siberian Werewolf Council. If she succeeds, pedicures and platinum highlights are just the beginning. But if she fails, she'll be expelled before she can woo Derek into asking her to the Brimstone Ball!
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

INTERVIEW: KITTY KESWICK

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kitty Keswick whose latest story, "Death Becomes Her," is in the Spirited anthology, all the proceeds of which go to charity.


"Some pretty big names are in it, so I am in a bit of awe...fan-girl awe," she admitted. "Mary V. Snyder, Candice Havens... To share the same pages is amazing."


Kitty was actually inspired to start writing because she had trouble reading. She has dyslexia—she used to flip her letters and it was very frustrating to her. She began writing stories down, misspellings and all, because she understood her own words.


"I never looked as dyslexia as disability," she told me. "I wrote an article about dyslexia and my publisher featured me on their blog."


"How long have you been writing?" I asked.


"Professionally? Well, I was first published in the second grade...I think. Maybe third grade. I wrote a poem about a frog and won an award. Seriously, I sold my first novel in 2007, but it didn't come out until 2010. I wrote Freaksville in 2001."


Kitty has two published novels, Freaksville and its sequel, Furry and Freaked, as well as two short stories—"Death Becomes Her" and "My Prom Date is a Vampire." She also has a box of what she calls "almost there/maybes/half-started scribbles entertaining the dust bunnies that live under my bed." Her favorite novel hasn't been published…yet.


She told me that her stories are very character-driven and that's what she looks like in a good story.


"They are, in my opinion, what make a novel interesting. They give your words life," she explained.


Because she is so character-driven, coming up with the basic plot is sometimes a struggle for her. Once she has it down, though, she doesn't have a problem coming up with twists and turns.


I asked her about her most interesting writing quirk.


"I am the queen of Post- it Notes," she confessed. "My wall is covered with them when I am writing. I use them as a plotting device...or wallpaper."


She started out as a pantser, but once she got published, she had to force herself to be a plotter too.


"Editors are funny that way. They want to see where the story is going before they buy it," she said with a wink. "Imagine that"


Kitty told me that she's gotten hooked on The Walking Dead on AMC, but she's more interested in the people rather than the zombies.


"I find it interesting, people surviving in the chaos. The human nature aspect. I often wonder who I would be?" she mused. "Would I be 'walker bait'? Or would I be a kick-butt survivor? I hope I would kick butt. I actually have a Go-bag. My boyfriend convinced me to keep one in my car. (His is way more detailed and heavier.) I have basic first aid, water purification tablets, toiletries, a couple of changes of clothes, several ways to make a fire, tent, blanket, travel pillow, seeds, granola bars. It's amazing what you can fit in a backpack. Every paycheck I buy something to go into it. This week I bought some cool cups and plates at Target and a yoga mat. It might be my survival bag, but I want to sleep on something soft and use cups and plates."


"What challenges do you think teens face today that you did not?" I asked.


"Everything happens so quickly in the world now. In a nano-second it could end up on the Internet. The world is smaller and news, good or bad, travels quickly. I think sometimes it's hard for teens to adjust to all the things...the pressures that are thrown at them. I have two teenage nieces and one teenage nephew. The stuff they have to face today is so much more than what I had to deal with. They are so resilient."


Kitty told me that she writes about the things she cared about when she was a teen—friends, love, fitting in.


"Those things never change," she said. "Everyone wants to know their place in the world. The teenage years are when you start on that journey. It's a bumpy road, but your teenage years shape who you are and what type of person you will become. Choose wisely, but if you mess up, own up to it and move on."


Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"


"Read. And never give up. You WILL get rejections; everyone does. It's what you do after you get one... Keep on typing. Sure, have a good cry, scream. Let it all out. But, dry up the tears and start typing again. Not everyone will like your work. You have to figure out what is an opinion and what is a problem with your work. Fix the problems; don't fret over the opinions. It's tough, but thick skin is needed in this business."


About the Author:
Kitty Keswick has been an Anglophile since age four when she saw Robin Hood and fell head over heels in love. An admirer of all things paranormal, Kitty spends her days with Werewolves, Valkyries, Vamps and other creatures that go bump in the night. Freaksville is her debut novel.


Check out her website www.KittyKeswick.com


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Monday, March 12, 2012

INTERVIEW: JOHN W OTTE

Long and Short Reviews welcomes John W. Otte, who has a short story in the anthology Twisted being released by Leap Books on March 28. His debut novel is also being released soon: Failstate. I asked him to tell us something about it.


"It’s Christian YA speculative fiction (that’s a mouthful, ain’t it?) about a young superhero named Failstate who is competing on a reality TV show for a government vigilante license. When one of his competitors is murdered, he finds himself on a very real quest to find justice."


John has always been a storyteller and, in some ways, a writer. He told me that he thinks part of it comes from being a voracious reader.


"I like to joke that my family was the terror of our local library," he said. "We increased the poor librarians workload when we visited every other week."


In the fifth grade, he created a series of "badly drawn" comic books about aliens and then moved on to "badly written stories" about aliens. He's always dreamed about being a published writer.


Even though he's been writing his whole life, he didn't really consider himself a true writer until he graduated from seminary (he's also a Lutheran preacher) and joined American Christian Fiction Writers.


"It was at one of their conferences that someone pointed out that if you write, you’re a writer regardless of if you’re published. I started calling myself one after that," he said.


If he gets writer's block, sometimes he'll take a break and do some reading so he can "supercharge" his imagination. If that doesn't work, however, he'll just plow ahead and spew whatever comes to mind on the page.


"Eventually I’ll break through," he told me. "It makes the first draft a mess, but that can always be fixed when I’m rewriting."


"Who is your favorite author and why?" I wondered.


"Do I have to pick just one? Ouch. The thing is, I have a lot of 'favorite authors,' and my choice in who I like ebbs and flows depending on what I’ve been reading lately. One of my absolutely favorites is Michael Stackpole, a fantasy writer who has also written some Star Wars novels. I like the way he portrays his heroes in his books. They’re very relatable."


Relatable characters are one of the important elements he looks for in a good book. He also wants a good hook—to be able to be sucked into a book and lose track of time.


He remembers reading about a woman who was going on a flight and picked up a Stephen King novel at the airport bookstore. She settled in to wait at the gate and started reading. When she finally came up for air, she was startled to see that the gate was empty. She had been so engrossed in the book, she missed her flight.


"A friend of mine asked to read Failstate so I sent him the file so he could read it on his e-reader," John told me. "When he contacted me a few days later, he told me that he almost missed a flight because he was reading my book. Made my day."


When it comes to developing his plot and characters, John uses a method developed by Randall Ingermanson called "The Snowflake Method."


"It’s a great approach to developing your story from a small seed up to a full synopsis and it really works," he assured me. "I’ve used it on the last couple of projects I’ve worked on."


The plot comes first for him—he'll come up with the overall story first and then try to figure out what characters he'll need to tell it properly. He's tried writing "by the seat of his pants," but it doesn't work for him—he's a plotter all the way.


He hates coming up with titles, however.


"I know what I do like to have in my titles: memorable simplicity. I want a strong title, preferably one word or less, that captures a person’s imagination and makes them wonder what the story is going to be about. How I get to that title is a mystery to me."


Finding the time to write and staying focused is the hardest part of writing for him, he confessed. He's a very busy man and is his own worst enemy when it comes to finding the time to write. There's always something else he can be doing and he finds that he tends to gravitate towards those "something elses." When he's cracking down, though, he tries to find at least an hour a day to write, usually later at night after his wife and kids have gone to bed.


"I find I can usually get a good chunk of writing done in an hour," he said.


He's a sucker for videogames, though, he admitted, especially if they have a good story.


"I’m particularly looking forward to playing Mass Effect 3 when it comes out, specifically because that franchise has had such a dynamite story to it," he told me.


One of his favorite characters is an elf named Resolute from Michael Stackpole's Dragon Crown Cycle. In Stackpole's stories, elves are connected to their homeland.


"Since Resolute’s home was destroyed when he was young, he’s angry and bitter and very violent," John explained. "But he’s also a good friend and very reliable."


He will sometimes listen to music while he writes, but only from a movie soundtrack or something that doesn't have lyrics.


"I once read that if you’re listening to music with words, your brain will be engaged in deciphering the lyrics, taking away part of your concentration from your writing. I’ve discovered that’s true for me as well," he said.


Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"


"Number one, think of yourself as an author. Not an aspiring author or a would-be author. If you’re putting words on paper (or on a computer screen), you’re an author, regardless of whether or not you’re published. Confidence goes a long way. Second, learn your craft. Buy books about writing. Attend classes about writing. Join a local writing group if you can. And third, don’t give up. You’re going to have a lot of doors slammed in your face and it’s going to hurt. The best thing to do is learn from your rejections and just keep trying."


About the Author:
John W. Otte grew up in Columbia Heights, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. When he was younger, he dreamed of being a superhero, fueled by reading collections of Superman and Batman comics. Instead, he attended college at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he majored in theatre. He graduated summa cum laude in 1996 and then attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where he received his Master of Divinity in 2000. He now serves as the pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in South St. Paul, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife, Jill, and sons, Isaiah and Micah. His debut novel, Failstate, about a teenage superhero competing on a reality show for a government license, will be published by Marcher Lord Press in April of 2012.


Find the author online at:


Website: www.JohnWOtte.com

Twitter: @JohnWOtte

www.facebook.com/authorjohnwotte


Spirited


Haunted houses. Haunted hearts. And a past that refuses to die...


Leap Books summoned best-selling paranormal and dreadfully talented debut authors to conjure up Spirited, a haunting collection of 13 tales guaranteed to keep you up all night.
Get entombed in stories of Egyptian treasures, shudder at tales of malevolent spirits, and become enthralled with the adventures of witch-hunters, ghost seekers, and lost souls. From steampunk to cyberpunk, our collection spans past, present, and future hauntings. One story actually leaps off the page with 3-D augmented reality.


With this celebration of things that go bump in the night, Spirited authors hope to slay the specter of illiteracy that plague our youth. All proceeds from Spirited will be donated to 826 National, a non-profit organization that offers free after-school tutoring, workshops, and in-school programs because "strong writing skills are fundamental to future success." Go ahead. Turn the pages if you dare. We won't tell if you sleep with the lights on. Because after all, there's no rest for the wicked.







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Thursday, March 8, 2012

INTERVIEW: DONNA HATCH

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Donna Hatch, who has written a YA novel, Queen in Exile.


Donna wrote her first story when she was eight.


"It was a really silly picture book about a camping trip gone wrong," she explained. "It was probably a more dramatic version of our real family camping trips that never seemed to go so well. I dabbled in writing on and off over the next few years, but it didn't occur to me that I wanted to be an author until I was about thirteen and had written my first full-length novel."


Recently, she's been reading a lot of YA novels: the Matched series, the Uglies series, and most recently Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl, which she absolutely loved.


Donna has written seven published titles. She told me she doesn't now if she can pick a favorite, but the easiest one for her to write was The Guise of a Gentleman. The hero was larger than life and so real to her that not only did she dream about him, she didn't have to develop his character at all. As fast as he revealed his story to her, she wrote it down.


She hasn't had a luck extensively plotting out her stories and doing character outlines. Instead she brainstorms the idea and then pretty much writes organically. She will usually write the first few chapters, let the characters introduce themselves to her, and –if she still doesn't feel she knows them well—then she will do character interviews, write back story, or do something else to get the characters down pat.


"Otherwise, it evolves as I write," she told me, "fixing story/plot/character issues during the revision stage."


Donna seldom suffers from true writer's block—instead, it's usually an overall burnout which means she needs to take a break from writing. She will read, or go on vacation, or do something else she loves.


"Other times, I either don't know what happens next in the story, or I wrote myself into a corner and can't find a solution," she said. "When either of those happen, I brainstorm with my critique partners. That usually reveals the answers."


All of Donna's full-length novels are available in both e-book and print, because most people still prefer print, even though more and more are getting e-book readers and buying e-books.


"From a marketing standpoint, it's just smart to make the same book available in multiple formats to reach all readers," she explained.


"If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you," I said, "what would they be?"


"A bathroom complete with indoor plumbing, a refrigerator, a stove or microwave, a big comfy bed, and a laptop," she told me.


Donna told me that she received the best fan letter ever. It was from a young woman who said that Donna's book got her through her son's chemotherapy. She was grateful for the escape or she might have gone crazy.


"I can't tell you what that meant to me," she said. "I knew then that I was doing something worthwhile."


Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"


"Keep at it until the manuscript is finished. If you let life get in the way too much, or you wait until you think each chapter is perfect before writing the next one, you might never finish it. Just finish."


About the Author:
Author of Historical Romance and Fantasy, award-winning author Donna Hatch is a sought-after speaker and workshop presenter. Her writing awards include the Golden Rose and the prestigious Golden Quill. Her passion for writing began at age 8 she wrote her first short story, and she wrote her first full-length novel during her sophomore year in high school, a fantasy which was later published. In between caring for six children, (7 counting her husband), her day job, her work as a freelance editor and copywriter, and her many volunteer positions, she still makes time to write novels. After all, writing IS an obsession. All of her heroes are patterned after her husband of over 20 years, who continues to prove that there really is a happily ever after.


Find the author online at:


http://donnahatch.blogspot.com/

http://www.facebook.com/RomanceAuthorDonnaHatch

http://twitter.com/donnahatch


Rumors of war hang over Princess Jeniah's peaceful country of Arden, a land that shuns both magic and warfare. Following a lifelong dream, Jeniah forms a telepathic bond with a revered creature called a chayim, who is prophesied to save her kingdom. But when a Darborian knight, Kai, comes upon Jeniah with her chayim, he sees only a vicious monster about to devour a maiden, and he slays the beast.


Devastated by the loss of her chayim, and fearing that her magic is evil, Jeniah doubts her destiny. When an enemy invades Arden City, they slaughter the people, storm the castle, and execute the entire royal family except the princess. Rescued by the knight who slew her chayim, Jeniah is now heir to the throne of Arden and the only hope for freeing her people.


On the run and hunted by enemy soldiers, Jeniah must place her life and the fate of her kingdom in the hands of this trained killer. Torn between embracing her destiny as queen of Arden, and her love for a mere knight, she must ultimately rely on her magic to save herself and her people from death and tyranny.
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Monday, March 5, 2012

INTERVIEW: JUDITH GRAVES

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome back Judith Graves, who visited with us last month to talk about her new release Second Skin and to share with us about her blog tour which is going on right now. Her stops can be found here.

This month, in addition to her blog tour, Judith has another release—her short story "Strangeways Versus the Wraith" appears in Spirited, an anthology edited by Kat O'Shea and published by Leap Books.

"It features wickedly talented authors such as: Maria V. Snyder, Candace Havens, Shannon Delany, Dawn Dalton, Kitty Keswick, Jill Williamson, Halli Dee Lilburn, and more!" she told me. "Proceeds from sales of Spirited go to 826 National, a literacy-based charity. Spirited is available now via ebook (Kindle and Nook) and will be offered in paperback format on March 24, 2012."

"Strangeways Versus the Wraith" is the introductory story for her Strangeways series, a steampunk ghosthunter prequel to the Skinned series, set in New York City in the Gilded Age. There are cross-over characters in both series. The first novel for this project, Strandeways Versus the Blood Brothers will be released in 2014 with Leap Books as a six part e-serial.

Judith does tone of research for her books, though she told me she wouldn't say it was in-depth or scholarly by any means.

"I tend to flip through a million resources, online and print, watch films, listen to music, and then jot down the tidbits that speak to a specific story. At that point I’ll take my research, the mythology, historical facts, location details and mish-mash them together with my own imaginings – creating new worlds and creatures," she explained. "I luvs the research and can easily be lost in it for hours. I have to be strict with myself and limit research binges in order to keep up with my writing schedule."

Initially, Judith was a die hard PRINT ONLY reader; however, once she started reading blogs, scripts, etc., online, it was easy for her to transition to e-book format. She doesn't own a dedicated e-book reader, but she has downloaded the Kindle app on her MacBook.

"Over the last year, I’ve read about twenty e-books in total and read about three to four print books a week," she told me. "So I’d now consider myself a casual e-book reader. As an author, I see the benefits of having my material out there in any and all formats. It’s kind of a fantastic time to be a writer. We have options!"

"Do you use a pen name?" I asked. "If so, how did you come up with it?"
"Yup. Early on I decided I wanted all my paranormal fiction to fly under one banner. I’d been reading other author blogs and knew how much of my own marketing I’d be doing if I was ever published. As I write in a bunch of different genres, I wanted a focused online presence and after talking it over with another writer friend who had also elected to work under a pen name – I decided to go for it. During a six-hour road trip, my husband and I generated a list of potential names. I wanted something with a 'Penny Dreadful' feel, dark, gothic, etc. After narrowing it down to a top ten list, we settled on Judith Graves. My husband is very supportive and often helps me lug in my laptop, books, etc, for author visits. He takes it in stride when he’s introduced as Mr. Graves."

Judith told me that a lot of authors have taken up the challenge of writing for youth and to meet the demands of increasingly demanding readers. When she was growing up, there was a lack of YA titles which caused a gap in the market—a gap publishers are eager to fill. She doesn't see this wave crashing any time soon.
"When you think about it, young adults are the perfect market, they enjoy series fiction, movie and video game tie-ins, they have their own funds or may be spending their parents' money – but the point is…they’re a naturally reoccurring / potentially endless crop of consumers. Titles that are published individually over a five year period, can be repackaged and sold to a whole new crop of readers as they reach the right age group, plus by then that author may have several other books or series published – which they will discover as well," she explained. "And the fact that publishers are also ensuring they produce titles at a variety of reading levels across the spectrum means that we’re now catching readers who may have missed out in previous generations. This just can’t be a bad thing. The more kids we have reading – the better."

"How much of your writing is based on your own experiences as a child or teen?" I wondered.

"None of the cool aspects of my characters are from my own experiences. I’ve never fought a werewolf, kissed a vampire, spellcast, travelled through time, hunted ghosts or had any other interaction with monstrous beasties. But I do know what it feels like to be the new kid, the outcast, (my dad was in the military and we moved around a lot), to wishing you were adopted and therefore had an explanation why you were the opposite of your entire family, and then to wish you never had to grow up and move away, or to finally find a core group of friends, to be accepted, to fall in love, to be rejected and find the nerve to do it all over again. Under all the supernatural elements of my stories, those feelings and the complications of being a teenager – of finding your place – (hoaky moment warning) and finding yourself – are the experiences I draw upon."

Judith told me that working as a library technician in a school has helped her when it comes to writing YA books, as has the fact that her husband is a high school social studies teacher and basketball coach. They work with kids every day—getting to see the trends, hear the new lingo, and witness the social challenges.

"Even with that exposure, the pulse of today’s youth is rapid, and fickle," she told me. "Often by the time I catch on to a new trend or phrase and incorporate it into a draft – it’s old news. There’s much to be said of the advice to not incorporate a ton of current popular culture references or terms into your work. You can date yourself very quickly."

Finally, I asked, "Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?"
"As a singer/songwriter, music and words have always functioned together in my little world. And yet, music can make me feel things that words can’t. Listening to music that makes ME feel, helps me to write what my CHARACTERS are feeling. I consider music part of my research and am ready, willing and able to spend hours on iTunes or filtering through my CD collection for songs that relate to different projects. I create playlists for each and within a playlist I’ll have songs that help me to tap into specific emotions – haunting ballads, quirky love songs, dark industrial tunes, or movie soundtracks such as Lord of the Rings for writing battle scenes," she said. "I rarely write without music. If I do, it’s when I’m working on edits or blog posts. But when I’m in first draft mode – it’s targeted tunes all the way."

Watch the book video for Spirited:



and Strangeway Versus the Blood Brothers:



About the Author:
Judith reads as much as she writes, devouring at least two books a week. She loves heated debates over character motives...she's been kicked out of several book clubs for just this reason. With her faithful sidekick at her feet--that'd be, Willow, a yellow lab--Judith remains unfazed by book club drama and is furiously writing more paranormal stories. Which hopefully, you'll read.

Working in a school library, Judith is surrounded by children's and young adult literature (there's no escape!). She fosters the joy of reading in students and staff at her school. She helps out with the school choir and drama club. If it has to do with words or music, Judith is around. A singer/songwriter for more than 10 years, Judith often writes songs about her characters--since they are beasties of the night, this makes for interesting listening.

Find her online at:

Website: www.JudithGraves.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/judithgraveswrites

Twitter: http://twitter.com/judithgraves

Haunted houses. Haunted hearts.
And a past that refuses to die.

Leap Books summoned best-selling paranormal and dreadfully talented debut authors to conjure up Spirited, a haunting collection of 13 tales guaranteed to keep you up all night.

Get entombed in stories of Egyptian treasures, shudder at tales of malevolent spirits, and become enthralled with the adventures of witch-hunters, ghost seekers, and lost souls. From steampunk to cyberpunk, our collection spans past, present, and future hauntings. One story actually leaps off the page with 3-D augmented reality.

With this celebration of things that go bump in the night, Spirited authors hope to slay the specter of illiteracy that plague our youth. All proceeds from Spirited will be donated to 826 National, a non-profit organization that offers free after-school tutoring, workshops, and in-school programs because "strong writing skills are fundamental to future success."

Go ahead. Turn the page if you dare. We won’t tell if you sleep with the light on. Because after all, there’s no rest for the wicked.


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Friday, March 2, 2012

GUEST BLOG: JOLENE PERRY




This post is part of a Virtual Book Tour for the release of Night Sky. Click on the banner to go to the book's main site.



What challenges do you think teens face today that you did not?


I'm about to seriously date myself here, but my parents put a car phone in the car I used most often. My friends thought it was the coolest thing EVER, until my parents' called to find out when we'd be back . . .


The teens I know are plugged in all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. My husband was just at the high school talking about his job as a prosecutor and asked how many people had seen naked pictures of at least one of their classmates that were taken on a phone. He said well over half raised their hands in each and every class. Crazy!


So, I think with all of these new conveniences - like them all having access to phones, and internet at all hours of the day, also brings a lot of challenges with it. We're living more and more in such a competitive society, and when you're as connected as the youth are, you're going to feel that pressure even more strongly. They need to be smarter, taller, thinner, stronger, faster, better . . . in everything, and that's too much to live up to.


As an adult, how do you keep your finger on the pulse of today’s youth?


Staying connected with the youth is probably the best part about writing for the YA audience - though, I do occasionally run books by their parents . . .


I taught high school for about six years before I had my daughter. I still occasionally coach track or help with the theater department at the nearest high school. I'm part of young adult activities that happen once a week, and teach the teens at the church I attend.


But I think it's more than that - it's in the little things like really taking the time to get to know the girls (and yes, boys) who babysit my kids. Really learning about the lives of the teens in the theater productions, and the teens who run track is where I've gotten a ton of my writing ideas from. I love the exciting time they are in their lives, and it's fun to be a part of that.


Oh. And I ALWAYS let them pick the music ;-D


I'm honestly half envious of our youth, and half grateful I grew up when I did.


Thanks SO much for the opportunity to be on your blog for the day!


About the Author:
Jolene grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in political science and French, which she used to teach math to middle schoolers.


After living in Washington, Utah and Las Vegas, she now resides in Alaska with her husband, and two children. Aside from writing, Jolene sews, plays the guitar, sings when forced, and spends as much time outside as possible.


She is also the author of The Next Door Boys and the upcoming Knee Deep.


Find Jolene online at:

Website: www.JolenePerry.com

Blog: http://www.jolenesbeenwriting.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002038196677

After losing Sarah, the friend he’s loved, to some other guy, Jameson meets Sky. Her Native American roots, fluid movements, and need for brutal honesty become addictive fast. This is good. Jameson needs distraction – his dad leaves for another woman, his mom’s walking around like a zombie, and Sarah’s new boyfriend can’t keep his hands off of her.


As he spends time with Sky and learns about her village, her totems, and her friends with drums - she's way more than distraction. Jameson's falling for her fast.


But Sky’s need for honesty somehow doesn’t extend to her life story – and Jameson just may need more than his new girl to keep him distracted from the disaster of his senior year.



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Thursday, March 1, 2012

INTERVIEW: DEBORAH JACKSON

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Deborah Jackson, author of the Time Meddlers series. The premise of the series? Matt, a thirteen-year-old boy is searching for his father, a scientist who has been cast into a quantum time machine that displaces him in other universes and times. Her third book in the series, Time Meddlers on the Nile, will be released soon. The other books in the series are Time Meddlers and Time Meddlers Undercover. You can read more about the series here.


Deborah hears often from teachers telling her how riveted their class was when they read from the Time Meddlers books.


"They reach out to me and I often make an appearance in the classroom if they’re located nearby, or I try to Skype a visit. Since the books fit in with the middle school curriculum, they seem to be very popular in schools," she told me. "Some schools send fan mail from the students. For everyone the comments are different. Sometimes the action/adventure draws them in; for others it’s the connection to my main characters, Matt and Sarah. The teachers love the vocabulary and wordplay as much as the story, along with the historical components. I’ve never had a disgruntled email, yet."


This latest release presents the greatest challenge to the main characters: how to prevent their own timeline from being erased. She told me a bit about the research she had to do for Time Meddlers on the Nile.


"In order to write this book, I had to wade through archaeological texts about Nubia and investigate the grandfather paradox. I had to find a link between Nubia and our civilization. It was one of the most challenging Time Meddlers books I’ve written and it explores some deeper themes—the shades of gray to every human being, how even children sometimes have to make impossible choices. But it also has the usual amount of animal encounters, conflict and battles, and tongue-in-cheek humour. You can read the first chapter to get an idea. Disregarding Nubia altogether, it begins with dinosaurs."


Deborah has published four books: the three in the middle grade Time Meddler series and an adult SF mystery/thriller, Ice Tomb, a story that takes place in Antarctica and on the moon. She's working on another thriller, Sinkhole, which is set in a deadly cave—combining nanotechnology and other aspects of science with mysteries of the ancient Mayans.


She's also working on a YA novel that's somewhat of a ghost/pirate story, and she's experimenting with an unusual style. It's a combination of first, second, andthird person along with a fragmented technique which is directly related to the plot and character situation.


"Are you frowning yet?" she asked. "I've been keeping this under wraps because I'm not sure if this technique will work, but once I feel it's ready, I'll release more information."


I asked her what she was currently reading.


"I’m reading The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, a book written in first-person-plural voice (weird style), I just finished Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, another unusual style (you see where I’m going?), and before that I reread Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (and now you’re totally confused). Prior to these I began the fantasy series by George R. R. Martin: The Game of Thrones. I’ll read just about anything, but I’ll always return to fantasy, SF, YA or MG novels."


Her favorite is always the current project she's working on, because her writing improves with every new novel and she falls in love with the characters she's developing. She still feels a deep connection to Sinkhole, however, because she adores cave adventures. In fact, she will probably be spelunking in Kentucky this summer.


I asked her about how she developed her titles.


"Often I just slap a title on to begin with that suits the subject matter, but I generally end up changing it. Ice Tomb was originally called 'Atlantica'—if you read it you’ll know why—but Time Meddlers stayed exactly the same from the beginning. It could have no other title since my main characters are intent on meddling with time, not just traveling through various times. If the original title works, I’ll keep it. Since Time Meddlers Undercover deals with the Special Operations Executive and spies in WWII, the title immediately came to mind. But “Time Meddlers in Nubia” would sound rather dull, so I decided to make the connection with Egypt and the Nile. It immediately evokes images of mummies and they do make a grisly appearance. You’re forewarned."


"You shared a bit about research for your latest book—what about in general? How do you go about researching your books?"


"Ah, you’ve hit upon one of my favourite and most frustrating topics. Imagine stacks and stacks of books, Internet printouts, photographs of locations, and blood seeping from my forehead. I gather as much information as I can through the library first, visit museums—luckily we have the Museum of Civilization, the Museum of Nature, the War Museum and the Aviation Museum in Ottawa—but I like to seek out experiences too. I visited First Nations reserves and replica villages to effectively write about the Algonquin and Iroquois. I studied planes and anecdotes from spies to get the feel of World War II and espionage. I interviewed several people, especially my parents, about their experience in occupied Holland. I drew on my own visit to Europe several years ago too. But sometimes you just have to dive into archaeological texts to understand an ancient culture. If you want more insight into the process, here is a link to my Historical Note for Time Meddlers on the Nile: http://www.deborahjackson.net/timeMeddlersonthenilehistoricalnote.html".


Finally, I asked her about the best fan letter she'd ever received.


"Since she gave me permission, I’ll just post it:


I never had read a book that I’ve liked until this one! Before I read this book, I thought of reading as homework or a chore. I never read for a pastime, I was what you would call a “Couch potato”. Soon after I started reading it, I would stay up WAY past my bedtime to read saying to myself “Ok, just one more page.” I would bring it in the car every were I went. As soon as I finished the book, I went to the beginning and read it again. I am proud to say that this is by far the BEST book that I’ve ever read. And it’s going to stay that way until you make a Time Meddlers 2!”

Sarah R.
"There is no greater compliment to a children’s writer than to ignite a passion for reading in a reluctant reader."


About the Author:
Deborah Jackson received a science degree from the University of Ottawa in 1986, graduated from The Writing School in Ottawa in 2001, and is the author of several science fiction and historical fiction novels. She gives school presentations throughout North America as well as developing and teaching writing courses at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Deborah is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and Speculative Fiction Canada. Her novels include: Ice Tomb, an adult science fiction thriller, and the Time Meddlers series for children, ages 9 – 14: Time Meddlers, Time Meddlers Undercover, and upcoming release Time Meddlers on the Nile . Articles about Deborah and reviews of her books have appeared in The Ottawa Citizen, MORE Magazine, The RT Bookclub Magazine, Canadian Teacher Magazine, SF Site, Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine and many more.


Find the author online at:

Website: http://www.DeborahJackson.net

Blog: http://deborahjackson.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @DeborahJackson5

Time Meddlers Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Time-Meddlers/96927270655

Time Meddlers on the Nile


Thirteen-year-old Matt Barnes and Sarah Sachs, while attempting to rescue Matt's father from multiple universes, face an even more challenging obstacle: the erasure of their own timeline. What can they do before they, themselves, are erased?


Somewhere along the Nile the two teens must prevent the ultimate meddling during the time of Nubian pharaohs and princes, palaces and temples to rival the ancient Egyptians and fearsome desert raiders. They must puzzle out the moment and event where Matt's father or his arch nemesis, Nadine, interfered with history. If they don't, it could mean the end of time as we know it, or a never-ending loop of time.
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