Category Archives: interview

Author Interview with Kelly Walker

I want to introduce one of my crit partners (to those of you who don’t yet know her), author Kelly Walker. Her “Souls of the Stones” series is fantastic.  I’m in the middle of critiquing book three and am really excited about it. So I decided to interview her to learn more about her as an author.

CornerstoneWhen did you first realize you were a writer? 

I’m honestly not sure I’ve realized it yet. I often realize that I’m not only writing books, but I’m publishing them, and I have to stop and catch my breath. It still feels quite surreal. I wrote a lot as a kid, but it was always for a very personal reason – either because I wanted to live my dreams through made up characters because I knew they were a bit farfetched, or because I needed to work through emotions, etc. Now, I guess I am still living a dream by writing, but writing IS the dream.

Who would you say is your greatest writing influence?

I can say without a doubt my greatest writing influence is Stephanie Meyer. Let me explain for anyone considering pitchforks. She told an incredible story. Some say it isn’t well written. I couldn’t tell you, because when I read her stuff, I’m so lost in the world she created that I forget the words. Her characters are captivating and engrossing, for no discernible reason. Simply put, I feel like her story is magic. I don’t have any great technical skill when it comes to writing. But I read her books and I feel like it reminds me of what is really important – telling an amazing story. That is my goal – Write well enough to not get in my own way. I saw an interview with her, where the reporter asked her about E L James, and asked if she was upset about “inspiring” 50 shades. Stephanie said she wasn’t, because E L James obviously had a story to tell, and she wished her all the best. I hope if I ever make it big, I can be that classy. And I think it is also a really important reminder of why we should write – to tell a story.Gifted Stone

What do you find is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

Managing my time. There are always things I need to do. Writing, editing, critiquing, or even the mundane side of things like book keeping. I have to really force myself to remember that there is life beyond it. I do this full time while the kids are in school. At least, that is my plan. But oftentimes I find myself ‘working’ more than I plan.
The other surprisingly hard thing is knowing how to respond when people ask me about my books. I’m a relatively shy person, and when someone I don’t know asks me about my books it makes me want to hide in a corner and turn invisible. I think part of it is because I write fantasy. I struggle to try and explain the magic, and the love, and the fantastical elements to strangers. I mean, when you start talking about talking to the dead, telling the future, and elemental magic, people are quite reasonable if they look at you like you are nuts. I do a bit better with people I already know, since they already know I’m nuts, I don’t worry about ruining their perceptions.
ssebook1small
Tell us about the “Souls of the Stones” series.

Well, at the risk of sounding nuts, It is a YA Fantasy. Ultimately, it is about love, and finding love where we least expect it. It is about learning lessons from the past, working toward a better future, but never forgetting to appreciate the present. It follows conventions of the paranormal romance genre, while being more of high fantasy than paranormal.

The main character, Emariya (Riya) is a medieval heiress who lost her mother as an infant. At the start of the series her father is missing, and she’ll do just about anything to find him. To complicate matters, her land is in jeopardy. An opportunity to help her land and bring her father home is presented in the form of a marriage proposal from a mysterious prince. She agrees and her journey begins. Soon after she leaves the safety of her home, she learns the world is more dangerous than she ever imagined, and there is an entire rebel group intent on harming her for magical abilities she didn’t know she had.

Now that you’re published, what has changed in your view when it comes to writing and publishing?

I’ve done a lot of research in trying to chose between Indie Publishing, versus Traditional Publishing. I think the one thing I am sure of, is that there are a lot of people who call themselves professionals who want to take advantage of aspiring writers. Between bad contracts from established publishing houses, to vanity presses, and companies who want to sell services at inflated prices, there are a lot of vultures circling. Fortunately, the information is out there as long as we do our due diligence, no matter which publishing path we choose.

What one piece of advice do you have for unpublished writers?

This really goes along with the last question. I think the most important thing is do your homework. You have to be true to two sets of people – Yourself, and your eventual readers. It is very easy to get caught up between indie and trade pubbing, and as publishing companies and distributors disagree authors and readers get caught in the middle. Remember to look out for you, and look out for your eventual readers – this means making sure you have plans about how they can find your book longterm (direct them to your website or blog, not a retailer!) and it means respecting your characters.

Don’t choose to self publish because you think trade publishing is too much work, and don’t trade publish because you think self publishing isn’t viable. Do your homework, and decide what is right for you and what is right for your story.

If you aren’t ready to publish yet, then don’t. Don’t be in a rush. Find a crit group. Write, and then write some more.

What else do you like to do besides write?

I like to read, and I read a lot. Most evenings after we go to bed my husband goes to sleep and I read for 2 or 3 hours. I also love to create – either through photography, or through graphic design. I do book covers on the side, and when I need to de-stress I usually do one of the above.

In addition to all of that, I’m a mom and a wife, plus an unofficial zoo-keeper. We have 3 dogs and 2 cats, so there is never a dull moment.

What’s coming up next for Kelly Walker?

I’m not sure which title will be next. Either Broken Stone, or Severed Stone. Broken Stone is the 3rd and final novel in the main Souls of the Stones trilogy. Severed Stone is the first prequel. Hopefully one more prequel (Valencia’s Story) will be coming after it. Broken Stone is planned for May 31st, and I think I am on target to meet that goal.

Once Souls of the Stones has been finished, and I really don’t know when that will be because the story keeps demanding more from me, I want to write a paranormal romance. Uncertain Fate will follow a male vampire who can see when and how a human will die, as well as parts of their life before it. He meets a girl (Of course) and falls in love. He is undeniably drawn to her. The only problem is he can see that she is going to die soon. He hates the thought of being without her, so he wants to turn her. His choice is complicated because through his gift, he realizes if she is turned, she will hate him. So he is destined to loose her, either through death, or through supernatural life. Maybe he can change it, or maybe he can change her mind, or maybe after realizing their destinies in the moment they meet, he will decide not to introduce himself in the first place.

Author Bio: 

Kelly Walker is a part time novelist, full time wife, and an all the time dreamer. Her first promotion was 8 years ago and it came with the job title of ‘Mom’. Her second promotion came with no raise in pay but a huge jump in responsibility when she became ‘Mom of two’. It’s a rewarding career but the retirement plan sucks. She is a huge advocate of animal rescue and adoption and shares her Virginia home (and couch) with three dogs and two cats.

Learn more about Kelly on her website.

Twitter  @Kwalkerwrites
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/KellyWalkerAuthor

Author Interview: KC Rivers

I’m on vacation in Dubaii the next two weeks, so I’m not sure I’ll get up a post next week, but this week I’m excited to introduce fellow author, KC Rivers, who also happens to be my husband’s cousin.  However, that’s not why I love her writing.  I helped give “Prince of Light” a read-over while she was preparing it for publication and I plain just love the book.  So this week I’m interviewing her on her novel and her writing.  It’s available at Amazon and B&N in ebook form.

1. When did you first realize you were a writer?

I’ve been writing short stories since I was a child and have always been an avid reader. It seems like there’s constantly been some sort of story going through my head. I think when I first realized that I wanted to write for a living was when I was around 18, maybe 19. I was working at the local library at that time and felt like I was in paradise because I was constantly surrounded by books. I actually started writing a novel around that age but never finished it. Looking back now, I realize that it was a good thing. My writing has definitely changed since then.

2. Who would you say is your greatest writing influence?

It would probably be a combination of C.S. Lewis and Rick Riordan, with a smattering of J.R.R. Tolkien thrown in for good measure. I grew up reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” and fell in love with the Percy Jackson series in my later teens. Lewis and Tolkien’s amazing talent for world-building was really inspirational for me. The other biggest influence, however, has probably been my love of manga (Japanese comics). Even though they’re graphic novels, the storylines can be very intricate and have some amazing character development that it really helped me craft my own characters and their abilities. In fact, I would love to see “Prince of Light” made into a manga someday.

3. What do you find is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

For me, it’s time. I can’t afford quit my day job just yet, so trying to find time to market the book I have out plus write book two while working 40 hours a week is a pretty big challenge. It’s very easy to get frustrated, but the harder I work the closer I can get to making writing my fulltime career.

4. Tell us about your novel, “Prince of Light.”

“Prince of Light” is a young adult medieval fantasy that I’ve sometimes described as every fangirl’s “dream book.” The story mainly centers around a seventeen-year-old human girl who finds herself in an alternate world and has to learn how to survive there. Ultimately, she will have the difficult decision of choosing sides in a war between nations and between the love of two very different men.

5. Now that you’re published, what has changed in your view when it comes to writing and publishing?

Boy, a lot has changed since I first decided that I wanted to become an author. Originally, I even thought that I didn’t want to have an agent! I thought I could just submit to a few publishers and they would snatch my work right up. I had no idea how competitive the realm of authorship really is. And self-publishing wasn’t even an option at that point. I shudder now when I look at some of my previous query letters. They were downright awful. Fortunately, I ended up stumbling across a web site early on that allowed me to connect with both published authors and aspiring writers. They helped me hone my query and offered a positive viewpoint of self-publishing. Several of them chose it even after receiving offers of representation from agents or publishers because they want to have the control over their own work and have the final say. I finally realized just how much work it is to be an author, but also how rewarding it is.

6. What one piece of advice do you have for unpublished writers?

Never give up! No matter what route you choose, whether it’s self-publishing or traditional, it’s going to mean a lot of blood, sweat and tears. The final outcome, however, is totally worth every minute.

7. What’s coming up next for KC Rivers?

I’d really like to get book two out this year. I’m not sure if I’m ready to release the title just yet, so I’m going to keep it a bit of a surprise for now. It’s going to be a little bit of a direction change from book one, but it’ll be exciting to see where it ultimately ends up. I also have a stand-alone novel that’s not related to the “Prince of Light” series that I’d like to finish up.

Excerpt:
There was darkness all around us, making it almost impossible to run through the forest. The moon was only half-full, and the tall, ancient trees didn’t allow any extra light. Branches slapped at my face, stinging my cheeks.

“Faster, Evanthe!” My mother was gasping for breath behind me. We ran harder, our legs burning with each step. The attack had been so sudden. I could hear voices shouting behind us and knew it had to be the men who had raided the village. Common thieves, seeking an easy victim. Though rumors had spread through the town of a new band of outlaws that were formerly mercenaries, no one had really believed them until now.

Our long nightdresses tripped us up, making it difficult to stay ahead of them.

“Where can we go?” I asked, holding my fingers against a cramp in my side.

“It doesn’t matter. Just keep moving.” There was hardness in my mother’s voice. It made me feel determined to outrun our pursuers.

The forest floor began to slope upwards, and we had to slow our pace. It didn’t make sense to me. Why would the outlaws target us? My father was not the richest lord in this area. He was too honest to take advantage of the people in his care. As soon as he had discovered that the castle had been breached, he’d pulled my mother and me from our beds and raced with us to the edge of the forest. Then he’d left us, promising that he would catch up when the danger was past.

If the men who attacked were as skilled as my father had thought them to be, it would be only a matter of time before they found two women in the forest. They were killers, bred only to feast on the pain and terror of those they hunted.

“Keep going,” my mother urged me. “We have to find someplace to hide.”

We kept climbing. The night was becoming colder, and soon we were both shivering in our flimsy nightdresses. We came to a stop beside a fallen tree, resting our weary legs. My body ached. The voices came again, closer this time. I felt my mother’s hand grasp mine in the darkness.

“We’re near the top, Evanthe.” I didn’t like the change in her voice as she spoke to me. I knew I wasn’t going to like what she had to say. “Keep going until you reach the peak of the hill. Find a hiding place and do not let them see you.”

“No,” I protested. “We’re going together.”

Her fingers brushed the side of my face. “We can’t outrun them. You go ahead. I will go back to your father and keep them away from you.”
I shook my head. “I can’t do this by myself.”

“Yes, you can.” She leaned over and kissed my forehead. “I love you.”
She stood up before I could say anything more. I clung to her hand, but she pulled away. Tears filled my eyes and I blinked rapidly.

“I love you, too,” I whispered.

“Go now, Evanthe. While you have a chance. Run!” I heard her begin the descent down the side of the mountain. I didn’t want her to leave.

Fear gripping my heart, I forced my body to turn away. I had to keep going. I couldn’t let this opportunity be wasted. I prayed for both of my parents, hoping for their safe return to me. I could feel torn holes in my nightdress, and the night air licked my damp skin like an icy kiss. I was trembling, a chill settling into my bones, but still I kept moving. The voices grew fainter and fainter behind me, and I didn’t stop climbing until exhaustion overtook me.

The air had changed. It smelled different, perhaps because I was higher up now. A sudden snap of a branch to my left made my heart leap in my chest. I could feel a shrub next to my body and went on all fours, feeling along the ground. I pushed the branches aside, a few of them hitting my eyes and wrapping in my lengthy blonde hair before I finally found a way underneath. I kept my back to the tree that was growing right next to the bush, so that no one could attack me from behind. For once I was grateful of my small stature.

I heard more footsteps, but the darkness was so thick that I couldn’t see anything. I was terrified, suspended in the unknown. Something – or someone – was very close. The branches moved, and I felt a warm breath against my arm. My head snapped to the right where a pair of red, fiery eyes glowed in the shadows. Then darkness overtook me completely.

For sale at Amazon and B&N.

Author bio:
K.C. Rivers is a self-proclaimed geek with a particular fetish for elves, pirates, and winged creatures. She often finds inspiration for her writing from the scenic outdoors that her native Oregon has to offer. When she’s not playing the piano, writing, or reading, she can usually be found taking a long walk or enjoying a cup of coffee. She currently lives with her husband, two dogs and cat. Prince of Light is her first novel.

 

An Attack of “The Next Big Thing”

One interesting part of being part of an active critique group is when there’s a blog hop, sometimes everyone around me ends up doing it.  My friend  Michele Shriver first tagged me with “The Next Big Thing” last month (11/7), only Nanowrimo combined with the actor question in this blog hop meant that I never finished it.  She was really low key about it, so afterwards I just said to myself, oh well, and kept typing.

Well…

On 12/12, another friend, Katie Stewart also tagged me with the same blog hop. I was going to get it together… but didn’t. And then, right before Christmas, what do I find but that Kelly Walker has also tagged me with this.  So, taking a deep breath, I decided to actually look up child actors and finally do this.  Here goes:

What is the working title of Your Book?

Much Ado About Villains

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Shakespeare.  Which ought to be obvious from the title.  But to be fair, there’s also a healthy dose of JK Rowling and JRR Tolkien involved as well.  This is a Harry Potter spoof that draws on high fantasy cliches and popular culture as well, and I can’t think of a better thing to meld that with than Shakespeare, honestly.

What genre does your book fall under?

Comic fantasy or satire.  It’s upper middle grade or younger YA too, I suppose, but I always take that for granted in a book. The book has it’s own full story, so it’s not a strict satire, but can come close at times.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

This is the question that tripped me up most, because I have no idea what child actors are around anymore.  All my former choices are far too old now. But after some net searching, I have decided on Dakota Goyo for my lead MC, Danny.  For his supporting friend, Daisy, I discovered a huge shortage of 13 year old black female actors.  This saddens me, although Willow Smith, daughter of the famous Will Smith is happily the perfect age.  Even harder was finding an Asian actor at 13 for Aun, Danny’s best friend and sometimes rival. After searching google images to find someone current and not a former child actor, I found Korean Seo Yeong-joo-I who looks the part.

At least the older students were easier to pick, I decided Sarah Hyland for Queleria, the beautiful girl Danny and Aun fall in love with, and Kenton Duty for Demigorth the popular boy who steals her attention.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’ve just written 50K this past Nanowrimo, but I’m still not done with my first draft.  I think I need to rework the outline and then fit the scenes together in a different order and rework them also.  The novel is being difficult, sigh.  I’m hoping to hash it out though over the next couple of months.  My goal is to have a full first draft by the beginning of March.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Book one started as a mix between the play “A School for Scandal,” “Harry Potter,” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”  I wanted to bring in some new elements, although Harry Potter satire will be a major part of the series as a whole, and the style of the sequel will be the same as book one (A School for Villains).

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

“Dark Lord Academy” started as a series because of talking about Harry Potter with my brother Jonathan. I’ve always enjoyed doing satires, and writing about an evil magic school, where everyone becomes villains sounded like hilarious fun. I wrote the first novel for my brother as a Christmas present, and somehow along the way during revisions, it turned into a six book series. I suppose it was villainous that way.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, let’s see… it’s got demon horses that breathe fire and like eating coal as a treat and run gymkhana courses, a teenage demon boy who secretly listens to chant and drinks holy water, and true love Shakespeare style (yes, death is definitely included).

As so many people have tagged me with this, I don’t have anyone to tag back, and figure it’s run its course by now anyway… but if you read this and want to adopt it, drop me a note and I will next Wednesday promote your blog as if I tagged you.

Interview: Nayu’s Reading Corner

Today I want to welcome Nayuleska, author of “Nayu’s Reading Corner” one of my favorite review blogs! 

Tell us about your blog, Nayu.  What sort of things do you like to review? Everything! Well, nearly everything. I review predominantly children’s books, from 0 years to Young Adult. I went through a phase of mostly reviewing Young Adult, but I’ve switched back to younger children’s books as they are a little less intense. They still deal with all emotional issues in life, but there’s more happiness and hope.

I also review a few children’s non-fiction books, some paranormal romance, contemporary fiction and fantasy too. Depending on my mood I love school stories, stories of characters having a physical or mental issue which they have to overcome, stories of people discovering they have new powers, family orientated stories (often but not exclusive to dealing with death of a loved one, divorce, unemployment etc). Cute animal stories that make me go aww also feature on my list. Oh, I need to point out I’m prone to crying over books, and enjoy them when this happens.

 How did you end up in the business of book reviewing? It all started when I started reading book blogs. One reviewer – who is now an author too, Kimber An reviewed stories which I found enjoyable. I’d never have thought that I’d like paranormal romance, seeing as I’m not overly fond of romance, but I love the powers and obstacles that the protagonists have to overcome. I got in contact with Kimber An, (whose now suspended blog Enduring Romance I ended up being a reviewer on!) we got chatting. When saying how fortunate she was with all the interesting books she read, she said ‘give it a go’. So I did.

29th April 2009 I started my book review blog. I reviewed books from my own collection, and started requesting books from publishers. It took quite a bit of time and effort to discover who to contact in the publishers – these days the publicity department is more clearly signposted. I’d made requests each month, and very few would be fulfilled. I kept reviewing my own books, and the ones which I received. I loved it. I loved sharing my thoughts and feelings about books with the world. I still love doing that. Slowly my review requests were fulfilled.

Things sort of exploded in January when I held an online launch party for the debut novel of author Keren David – it was the year it snowed a lot, and since she couldn’t get out I wanted to make it fun for her. It was heaps of fun, gaining interest across the web including on Book Brunch (I got a small mention which I can no longer find the link to). It enabled me to network (although I didn’t look at it in that light at the time), forming links with lots of children’s publishers who I still review for today.

I now have the stacks of books I once dreamed of…which caused an avalanche of books the other week, as one bookshelf endured too much strain from being crammed with books!

I have to stress that getting complimentary books from publishers is a privilege. It isn’t a guarantee for a book reviewer, and it shouldn’t be the aim of a book blog. I started off reading my own books and library books – which I’d do more if I were to get zero review copies. Being a book reviewer is a responsibility. The more books I review, the more I prove my reliability in the publishing world.

Sometimes publicists now contact me if there’s a particular book they feel I’d enjoy. Occasionally it’s the authors themselves who contact me directly to review their books. My knowledge of the publishing world has increased, it’s one I wish to remain in. It’s friendly, fun, a little bit of hard work but totally enjoyable. My style of reviews change according to personal circumstances, the way I rate reviews has changed, and my love for books has grown more than I could imagine.

What’s your favorite part about reviewing books? Reading the books! Nothing beats the pleasure of curling up with a good book and being taken on a whirlwind ride in someone else’s life. Fictional or not, magical powers or just plain normal every single protagonist I read about has qualities that I find in myself, sometimes face issues similar to the ones I face. Each and every one of them has something to teach me, and I love sharing my observations with the world.

What other fun things will readers discover on your blog?

On my side menu I always have an image of the book I’m currently reading, along with the genre it’s for. Every now and then I hold competitions, sometimes chocolate (which ties in with the next question), sometimes a book from my bookshelf. Publishers sometimes offer books for competition, so these are always available to UK residents. A lot of my readers are outside the UK, so sometimes I give away my copy so they don’t have to miss out.

Every Monday I have a What Are You Reading Meme which GMR ofSatisfaction for Insatiable Readers review blog puts up for me (once I give her the book details). It lists the book I’ve read the previous week (which begins on a Saturday and ends on a Friday to give her time to post it).

When I have time (which I haven’t had for several months as ‘normal’ reviews come first and life’s been chaotic) I put up a Character Duel meme. In this meme I take the protagonists from the What Are You Reading meme, pair them up with another book character, why they would like each other and why they would clash. At the end I use a random number generator to pick one character from the list and say which anime character they are most similar to. This relates to my new venture of reviewing anime series/episodes.

I’m a huge anime fan, so it makes sense for me to review what I watch. I discovered the anime Spice and Wolf by using this picture for my twitter avatar. I didn’t know who Holo was, and an anonymous commenter let me know which anime it was from. I watched it and loved it! I use anime pictures a lot in my blog, especially for my Nayu’s News post which is where I chat about what’s been going on in my life. There are some pictures I use for specific occasions. This one is for when I’m having to rest up (I have permanent health issues), although sometimes I use these two when I’m reflecting about what I can do/what I will do. I like using these when I’m chatting about writing, this one when I’m discussing reading, and I try to

always use a fun pic summing up how I feel at the end of the Nayu’s Newspost like this one, or sometimes I find a reason to put in cute ones like this one.

Oh, I nearly forgot a big feature in my reviews: as well as the publishing information, I include a ‘themes’ section, which includes themes that appear in the book, with details on the content (violence, romance, how many tissues are needed because the book made me cry  etc) as the last items.

What’s your favorite kind of chocolate?  Most chocolate (so long as it’s not got alcohol in) I really enjoy Hotel Chocolat’s eton mess chocolates.

As you are also a writer, tell us about your own work!  What are you writing?
*laughs* I write a range of children’s book – not as wide as the ones I review. I’m currently working on a fairy series for 7 year olds with an unusual concept of what magic is. I’ve nearly finished editing the first book, which will then head to a couple of people who can tell me how to make it shine.

I’ve got a sci-fi adventure series with a Muslim girl as the protagonist which explores themes of human trafficking, fanatical groups (which aren’t what you expect), strange beings, families trying to kill each other for real and lots of other themes. I’ll be diving into that while I’m waiting to hear back from my beta readers on the fairy story.

I have other wips which are purely light hearted involving royalty, family ties, supernatural powers and magic, magical creatures, love, laughter – I’m not spilling details as like a lot of writers I’m paranoid 🙂 Some are waiting to be finished, others need a complete overhaul because my writing style has changed and I’ve learned a lot over the past few years.

Thank you for dropping by and telling us all about your blog! Thank you for having me – it’s been fun chatting about my blog, my reading, and my writing!