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Write What You Don’t Know

 

I’m about to burst your image of me. Right here. Right now. I’m going to tell you a secret that you’ll find super hard to believe. Ready?

I don’t know everything.

There, I said it. I, Michelle Lynn, am not an expert in every topic known to man. In fact, there are very few topics I can claim to know a lot about. Hockey. Aunting. Certain book series and genres. Really, the list is suuuuper short.

You know the old saying “write what you know”? It’s a bit limiting, isn’t it? I’m a person who likes to challenge myself because that’s how we improve, how we grow. This doesn’t mean doing gobs and gobs of research to gain the knowledge to write about certain topics. Some genres – like anything historical – need the author to know what they’re talking about.

Well, I don’t write historical fiction. I write contemporary fiction. This means my books take place in today’s world, in settings that are well known and well-loved – but not by me. In my New Beginnings series, there are three settings in the first two books – New York City, Connecticut, and Boston. Would you believe me if I said I’d never set foot in any of those places? Sure, I’ve seen them on TV, but that isn’t the same, is it?

My newest book, We Thought We Were Invincible, features two characters who spend a lot of their time surfing. The book has yet to be released, but one of my first beta readers asked me a single question before going into what she liked (and didn’t like) about the book. Do you surf? She thought I did, but that would be quite the feat for a girl with a disability that makes it hard enough to stand balanced on solid ground, let alone a surf board. Short answer, no – I don’t surf. I’ve never even met a surfer.

So, how do you make the reader believe the author is all-knowing? How do you immerse them in some act or some place without experiencing it for yourself? Without large amounts of time-consuming research?

Generalities – the reader doesn’t need me to site specific buildings or street names to imagine they’re in New York City. I may have never been there, but I have been to places like Chicago. I know the smell of a city. Write about the sound of the traffic, the crowds on the sidewalks, the immensity of the buildings. Mention that they’re in New York a few times and now you’ve created a generic city that your readers believe is New York. Only do this though if the setting is a passive ingredient to your story, not something with a deeper meaning.

Slang – This works for both locations and actions. My first series, Dawn of Rebellion, starts in London and is about two English girls. I had a British friend give me a handful of terms to swap out for the American terms and suddenly they’re believably British.

To add to the surf aura of my main characters in We Thought We Were Invincible, I spent a few minutes online looking up surf slang. Most of this came in the form of different names for waves.

Occasional technical details – I hate books that get too technical. If I wanted to learn how to surf, I’d read a book about that specifically. If I wanted to learn about military tactics, I’d read a military focused book. Especially in the YA genres, less is more. But it still needs to be there – those little details that make your characters seem authentic.

For the surfing, this is as simple as mentioning the board leash or showing what they do to get up on the board, but not every time they surf. Don’t be repetitive.

In the Dawn of Rebellion series, they are in the middle of a war. I have to talk about guns and battle tactics, but leaving it vague is still the way to go. More detail gives more room to make mistakes (especially when talking about guns) and, let’s be honest, large amounts of detail bore the reader.

 

This was an interesting thing to balance in my sports book, Dreams. Hockey is not a well-understood sport. Most hockey romances I’ve read steer clear of describing games. I wanted to immerse my readers in something that I loved, in the excitement and energy of a full arena. So, I made quite a few important scenes happen during games. It took me a while to realize that a lot of readers wouldn’t know what I was talking about when I said things like power play. It actually took a beta reader telling me to quite with the hockey talk to see that.

As writers, we’re told to write from our own experiences, but I tend to go the other way. I learn a lot by writing about new-to-me things, places, and ideas. It’s exciting and challenging. I have a friend who likes to say that writing is just being a fabulous liar and maybe this proves that very thing. Or maybe it just proves that we don’t know any more than you do. We just put everything we don’t know down on paper.

Author Spotlight: K.J. Mcpike

Many of you don’t know this, but I write for four different blogs. One of them is the YA Author Rendezvous where I have the immense pleasure of getting to know authors to share their stories with the world in the form of interviews.

This month, I got to catch up with the ever talented K.J. McPike and have re-posted the interview here. Here she is!

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

The first book in my Astralis series is XODUS, and it tells the story of Lali Yavari, a girl who discovers she can astral project. She then goes on to use her newfound ability to bargain with a questionable boy who claims he can find her missing mother. The next book is Nemesis (book 1.5) that tells the events before, during, and just after XODUS from said questionable boy’s perspective.

Who’s your favorite character from your books?

It’s always hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to, I would choose Kai. (Yes, Kai is the aforementioned questionable boy.) I love that he challenges Lali’s black-and-white view of the world and makes her reevaluate right vs. wrong in certain circumstances. I hope he makes readers think twice, too.

I’ve never quite read a book like XODUS. That’s huge in a world where everything seems done to death. How did you decide to write about astral projection?

Aw, thank you! Astral projection is a subject that has always fascinated me. Growing up, my mother talked about astral projection a lot, and I latched onto the idea when she mentioned that some people claim they have been able to talk to deceased relatives while projecting. I never quite managed to do it myself (though I tried so hard!), but when the inspiration for XODUS hit and I decided I wanted to write about a bunch of siblings who have various abilities, astral projection was the first one that came to mind. Thanks, Mom!

I won’t give anything away, but in XODUS, the two main characters who everyone expects to fall in love have some major hurdles that may leave the reader not rooting for them until the next book. Most authors want you to immediately fall in love with the characters. Was this a hard decision?

It wasn’t a hard decision at first because it was how the story originally came to me, and I didn’t really picture it going any other way. But when I really started obsessing about the market and what readers seem to love about other books in the genre, I started to second-guess myself. Who doesn’t love two soul mates coming together in a relationship that is undeniably meant to be? But that wouldn’t have been true to my characters, and I think it would have taken away from the story. One of the major themes of the book centers around morality and understanding circumstances, and a major part of Lali’s growth is linked to that. So I kept the storyline as it was, for better or for worse. Here’s hoping readers will forgive me.

The second book in the series is written in quite a unique way. Can you tell us about that without giving any spoilers?

The second book Nemesis—which is technically book 1.5 just to complicate things—was my way of letting Kai have his say. I think his character is easily misunderstood, and when reading from Lali’s perspective, it’s easy to look at him as she does instead of seeing exactly where he’s coming from. Though his actions are questionable from the outside, I think most people in his position would make similar choices. My hope is that readers of Nemesis will recognize the tricky spot Kai is in and question how far they would be willing to go for their own families.

Were there alternate endings that you considered?

Not with dramatic differences. I struggled with where exactly to end the story, but the major events were pretty much always going to go the way they went. Sorry if that’s a boring answer!

What authors have inspired you to write?

I will forever be in awe of J.K. Rowling and her incredible ability to connect with so many different types of people through her writing. She’s also incredible at world building and planting seeds that seem small at the time but then become huge plot points later. I loved writing before those books came out, but when I decided I wanted to write a book of my own, I definitely had in mind how much I loved reading the Harry Potter series and how I wanted my writing to make reading that enjoyable for someone someday.

What age were you when you started writing?

I started writing stories when I was about ten, shortly after my family purchased a word processor. I thought typing was the coolest thing ever, and I spent countless hours whipping up crazy stories about environmentally conscious whales working to clean up the ocean and baby dinosaurs wreaking havoc on unsuspecting families. I also thought it was super cool to make all my characters’ names rhyme, so yeah…probably not my best work.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

All the time! It’s the worst, but I try to force myself to write anyway, even if what I’m writing has nothing to do with my current work in progress. For me, the key to beating it is to write through it.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I try to work with outlines, I really do. It’s just that I’m terrible at it. Even if I manage a coherent outline, I will inevitably change everything as I start writing. Planning and I just can’t get along.

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

What do you mean they aren’t real?! Hehe, I do feel a very strong attachment to my characters, despite the mean things I do to them in my writing, and I have been known to talk about them as if they are real people. But deep down, I have accepted that they aren’t real. I think…

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

My biggest challenge with XODUS was letting it be done. It took me nearly three years to write it, and I am incapable of reading something I’ve written and accepting it. I always want to change things. Eventually, someone had to pry it out of my hands and tell me to stop obsessing, but it was so painful!

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

The main thing I would change about my publishing journey is that I would have studied marketing and begun building my author platform sooner. I didn’t do either of those things until after XODUS was published, so now I’m trying to play catch up.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

My upcoming book is called Tenuous, and it is the official book 2 of the Astralis series. In it, Lali and her siblings end up in trouble of the time traveling variety. *cue maniacal laughter*

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Write every day, and read every day. Both are equally important. Also, join at least one good writing group where you read each other’s work and give each other honest feedback. The groups are great for keeping you accountable and for bouncing ideas off people who truly understand the writer struggle.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I’ve been told that I write in strange positions. For some reason, I always seem to feel more comfortable with one leg propped up, and when I’m doing the standing desk thing or curled over my laptop on the sofa, that can get pretty interesting. My boyfriend went on a kick where he would sneak pictures of me writing in my crazy positions, and once he’d collected enough of them, he decided to share them with me. It was then that I realized my problem.

What others are saying about K.J. McPike:

“I loved how the book could make me hate a certain character and then root for them and sympathize with them at the same time.”  

“I really enjoyed XODUS. It was well-written, cleverly plotted, and full of twists and turns.” 

“I am in love with the style in which K.J. McPike writes. The story and wording has a way off pulling you right in from the get go making it very hard to put down. So good in fact, I had it read in two days.” 


Want to learn more about this wonderful author? She has a website!

Find here on Facebook HERE!

Valentine’s Day Picks

Valentines day is the holiday that people love to hate – especially those without someone to celebrate it with. I’ve heard it all – heck, I’ve said it all.

“It’s a made up holiday created to sell cards.” 

“It’s a holiday meant to make people feel bad about being single.” 

“Chocolate!!! That’s the only good thing about this day.”

While some of these may still ring true, it can also be a day to celebrate truly epic love stories. Maybe it’s just the writer in me that sees it that way. The perfect, all consuming love that books can make people feel. 

I am a dystopian writer, turned romance writer. That was a big change. Dystopian books are emotionally stressful and desperate stories. Romances are a whole other world. Sure some of them still make me cry uncontrollably. Some of them are tragic – but, for the most part, there’s that underlying theme of hope. It’s why I’ve fallen in love with writing them and also why my Kindle is loaded down with all sorts of romance books that I can’t wait to get my claws in. 

Today, instead of dwelling on some of the negative meanings that people place on the day, why not feel a little bit of that hope that books can infuse into your soul. 

I’ve read many many romance books, but there are some that truly hit me. I’m going to share a few that you should check out for different reasons. Some are sad. Some are fun. And others can make you believe in just about anything. 


Warning: Keep the tissues nearby. 

Here’s my short summary: This is about a girl who is running away from many things in her life. Circumstances lead her to a small town where she meets Jason. Their love story is sweet, but it becomes very powerful when a secret about Jason is revealed. 

No more. No! I will not give spoilers. I’ll only tell you that you have to read it. The second book in the series is one of the best romances I’ve ever read, but you have to read this first. Stop arguing with me. Just do it! 

Get on Amazon

  

This is a fun one that I read recently. 

My summary: Miles is a young actor who kind of stumbles into fame. He’s sweet and awkward, but a director falls in love with him. His best friend, Clare, has been in love with him their whole lives, but he’s too dense to notice. He begs her to go to hollywood with him, where she has to watch him man whore it up. Things kind of snow ball from there.

It’s sweet and really funny. I was surprised how good it was. 

Get on Amazon


This is fantasy, but I think it fits perfectly in the romance genre.

My summary: Pippa is a princess who is being forced to marry someone of her father’s choosing. She convinces him to hold a tournament for her hand. All the eligible princes and lords attend and she’d hoping someone will win who is better than the man she was intended for. Only, the one person she wants to marry is no allowed to enter.

This entire series is fantastic. I can’t say enough about how much I loved it.

Get on Amazon


Warning: explicit content. This is for the older crowd only.

My summary: Cara is a young girl who suddenly finds herself thrust into the role of heir to the throne due to her cousins sickness. As is the custom of the land, she has twelve men who swear to protect her and, if she wants, provide for all her- ugh- needs. Before she can ascend the throne, she must travel to each of their provinces, through a land that is on the verge of war. 

This is one of my favorite books. It’s fantasy, but it doesn’t read like it. It doesn’t get bogged down in all the description and boring stuff.  

Get on Amazon

There are so many more romance books I could recommend, but this is a good start. Books can make you fall in love over and over again. They can take you places you never imagined and let you escape. It’s really an amazing thing – to live in so many worlds. 

If you read any of these, don’t forget to leave a review as they are all from small publishers. Every review counts. Thanks for letting me share my love of books with you!

Genre Hopping

Building a dedicated fan base is important to any author. In fact, it’s so important that much of the advice out there tells us to stay in our genres. It makes sense. For example, if you are writing romance, your readers are much more likely to pick up your next book if it is also romance than say science fictions.

But I also think that thinking is underestimating readers, pigeon-holing them. There are a lot of advantages to hopping around between the genres.

Let’s start with an obvious one – appealing to more readers across topics. If I switch from romance to fantasy, I keep the readers who want to stick with me and I pick up some wonderful new fans.

We also need to be honest here, writing isn’t only about who will be reading our books.

My first series was a YA dystopian series. It was emotionally draining. The battles. The dire circumstances. The deaths. I had to kill of characters who’d been with me for over two years. Once the final book was out, I couldn’t write. Anything I tried to start ended up with the trash heap. I was very close to giving up and deciding one series was enough.

Then I decided to try something new. I wanted to write something light; up-beat – a bit less complicated. So, I jumped into contemporary romance. Now, this wasn’t necessarily easier to write than dystopian, but it didn’t wear on me so much. Something amazing happened. I was rejuvenated. I knocked out the book in just over a month and decided to make it a series.

Switching genres taught me a lot and set me on the path to become a better writer. I started to see how each genre focuses on different aspects and can make you stronger in those areas. In dystopian, I was able to hone my action sequences and also my sense of plausibility and backstory.

Romance is very heavy in dialogue, forcing me to work on improving conversations.

In YA Contemporary, I’ve learned how to handle sensitive topics that are relevant to the world today.

 There is another genre switch in my near future. I’ll be partner writing a fantasy series and I’ve already been practicing my world building.

 

Every writer will tell you that they get better with each book they write. As with everything, practice makes – well, not perfect – but as close to it as we can get. It’s the same with genre hopping. With each genre I write, I become more well-rounded.

 

The school of thought might be to stick with what you already know, but I prefer to go for what I want to learn. That’s how we grow.

I hope you’ll stick with me for the ride.

The Best of 2016

In a year when “surreal” became the most searched term on the internet, a reality star was elected to the highest office in the land, too many beloved celebrities died, and mass shootings continued to show us how much hate still exists in this world, it’s important to understand what good literature truly gives us.

It gives us hope, even in the direst of circumstances. It gives us an outlet for all of the pain and the grief we may feel. It teaches us to love and to be kind, but most of all to stand up; to be heard.

For me, as a disabled Young Adult, it provides me with all of that and more. Reading is my escape as is writing. As writers, we all strive for our work to mean something, even if it’s only to a single person. We want it to matter, to teach, to share a message we feel is important.

2016 was a really hard year, but it was also a great one. Not all of these books were new in 2016, only new to me and I’m glad I found them. This collection of books has strong heroines that continue to rise as they are kicked back down. Two of the books feature characters dealing with recent disabilities and the new reality that brings. I’ve included dragons and aliens, movie stars and hockey players.

Let’s all take a deep breath. 2016 is over. 2017 is just beginning. This year will be what we make of it.

Click on any of the images for more information. 

Children’s Books:

Okay, so these ones weren’t really chosen by me. My niece is two-and-a-half and loves books just as much as I do. We spend a lot of time together and read a lot of different things, but there are only a few books that have become obsessions – to the point of her memorizing the words.

 Little Big Girl by Claire Keane

A touching picture book about an older sister’s unconditional love for her new baby brother.

Matisse is a little girl in a big world. Despite her size, she gets to have all sorts of grand adventures, like seeing the big sights of the city, making big messes, and taking big naps when her little body is all tuckered out. But when Matisse meets her baby brother, she realizes that she isn’t so little after all- She’s a big sister! And it’s great fun to show this new little person what wonders this big world has in store.

Groovy Joe By Eric Litwin

Eric Litwin, author of the bestselling and beloved Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, and bestselling artist Tom Lichtenheld, illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, have created a captivating new canine character who will groove his way into readers’ hearts and have them grooving and giggling all the while. In his debut adventure, Groovy Joe faces three roaring dinosaurs hungry for his doggy ice cream! Oh no! But Joe knows just what to do and soon enough he has them all sharing while moving and singing along.

Young Adult

I’ll be aging out of the typical YA crowd soon – I may already have – but that won’t stop me from devouring this genre. Young Adult books are amazing in that they appeal to people of all ages.

 Cinder and Ella by Kelly Oram – this books takes the crown for best overall book as well!

Ella is a young girl who loves her mom, loves movies and books, and loves her best friend Cinder. Only, she doesn’t know who Cinder is exactly. He’s her online friend who knows her better than anyone.

Cinder in real life is a movie star, picking up the role in the very same movie where his nickname Cinder comes from. Even through all of that, he finds himself falling in love with a girl he doesn’t know, a girl who suddenly disappears from his life taking his heart with her.

The accident. It changes Ella’s life, taking her mom and sending her into a world of disability, pain, and life with a father who abandoned her and his family who doesn’t want her. It isn’t until she gets the courage to message Cinder again that she can start putting the pieces of her life back together, even if they don’t quite fit as they did before.

Science Fiction

I’m not a big sci-fi fan, but this series reads more like contemporary stories that just happen to include time travel and are truly beautiful.

 A Straw Man by Amalie Jahn

What if you could go back in time to save the person you love the most?

Nate’s funny. He’s a football player. He’s ridiculously handsome. In fact, it seems as if Melody’s dating the perfect guy, until an unexpected tragedy changes everything about him.

Based on her own family’s experiences, Melody knows traveling in time to help him could have disastrous results – the tiniest alteration of the past can have huge repercussions on the future. But with careful planning, she’s confident her trip will be a success.

What she doesn’t anticipate is that sometimes there are consequences which can never be foreseen and changes that can never be undone.

Fantasy

This is by far my favorite genre when it’s done well. I have a number of big name authors who I read religiously, but this year the title goes to an Indie!

Seirsha of Errinton by Shari L. Tapscott

Sometimes the brightest love kindles in the bleakest of darkness.

The people of Errinton are cold, but none is more so than their distant and aloof princess. At least, that’s how Seirsha hopes to be seen. After living in the shadow of her father, the cruel King Bowen, the princess has learned to keep her distance, hiding her feelings and the love she has for her people. Seirsha finds peace only with a peasant family in the village and a very unlikely friend from the caves near the castle.

But after her involvement in the death of the male heir to the Errintonian throne, Seirsha’s defenses begin to crumble. The search for another successor begins, and the one man with the power to strip away the princess’s walls steps back into her life.

Seirsha knows she should keep her distance from Lord Rigel—the only man in Errinton with a legitimate claim to her father’s throne—but when Bowen orders her to keep the dark lord close so she may spy on him, the princess must make a choice. With another Dragon War looming and Errinton’s oppressed rising against their leaders, will Seirsha betray her blood or turn her back on Rigel—the man she’s loved her entire life?

Romance

I read so many amazing romances this year and this selection could have been a number of them, but there is something special about this book. It’s about more than just romance, it’s about love – pure, in sickness and in health love.

The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else. What now?
 
She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.
 
Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.
 
Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.
 
They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.
 
But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

Dystopian

I will forever have a soft spot for dystopian because it’s the genre I cut my teeth in as a writer. There are many books that could go here as well. Alas, I could only choose one!

Strain of Resistance by Michelle Bryan

My name is Bixby. I was 12 years old when the world ended. A mysterious mist had blanketed our world, turning most of the population into blood-sucking predators. The few of us left uninfected…well, we were the prey. Vanquished to the bottom of the food chain. 

For eight years we’ve fought this alien war. Barely surviving. Not knowing which day would be our last. But now we face a new threat. The parasite that took us down is evolving. Becoming smarter. Stronger. Deadlier. 

The infected took everything from me. My home. My family. The man that I loved. No more. 

This is the story of our resistance. 

Best Book to Movie 

 The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

The movie here wasn’t quite as good as the book (are they ever?), but that isn’t surprising. Rick Yancey is an incredible writer and it’d be hard to convey just how beautiful and deep his words really were.

Now in Audio

 

This isn’t going to be your typical launch post because I don’t like to do things in the typical way. (That’s a nice way of saying I’m weird. Shhh)

Choices, the first book in the New Beginnings series is now available in audio-book and I couldn’t be more excited. It sounds fantastic. Allyson Voller who I was lucky enough to find, is a terrific narrator. 

So, why should you read, or listen to my book? That’s a good question. Because I want you to. Good enough? In all seriousness, I don’t have an answer that doesn’t make me sound like some odd salesman. So, we’ll go with this. Choices is a jumping off point for a group of stories that actually mean something. It’s a romance series so the romance is important, but it isn’t the point of the story. 

Choices is probably the most romancy of the series, but at it’s heart, it’s about breaking free of the expectations the world places on you. When you do, you might actually discover who you are. Michaela’s life is planned out for her by her family. She’s supposed to go to law school, marry her boyfriend, and then become the party planning socialite her mother has always been. And she’s accepted all of that. She’s going to go along with it. Do what is expected. Then she meets someone who makes her want to choose herself for the first time in her life. 

Okay, if you’ve read any of this series, and that wasn’t enough to sway you to go for this first one, these pages are also where we meet Maggie, Elijah, and especially Josh who play such important roles in other books. 

Before last year, I was not a romance writer. I spent three years on my dystopian series. The final book in that trilogy was draining to say the least. I started to write many other books before deciding that what I needed was something light, something happy. Well, this series didn’t end up so light, but happy endings soothe the soul. 

Eventually, I’m hoping to get the other books in the series recorded, but for now, here you go.

Amazon


If you’d be willing to leave a review on audible, contact me using this site’s contact form and I will send you a free audio-book. 

Choices is published by Creativia publishing. Check it out HERE.

Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

 

Alright, alright … don’t yell at me for writing an obligatory Thanksgiving post. It’s an important holiday, okay!  Mmmm … pie … and other important things. Yeah, can’t forget about those things … pie …

Fine fine – y’all know I’m a writer. Well, at least I hope you do since you’re here on my author website. If you don’t – maybe you should check out my books … hint … hint.

Shameless self-promotion over. Back to the writer thing. It isn’t easy. It’s something that tends to knock you over more often than it picks you up. Crippling self-doubt, infuriating writer’s block, tendencies to want to hide away from the world for hours and hours at a time, and being told you suck again and again by anonymous readers. Sounds fun, huh?

It’s true that most authors experience various levels of everything I’ve mentioned – usually all at once. But here’s another truth: Writing is love. Writing is passion. Writing is need. I’m being suuuuper cheesy so I’ll try to explain in terms that won’t make you cringe. It isn’t a profession people do just to pay the bills. “But Michelle, that’s because it doesn’t pay the bills …” That’s what I imagine you all saying to me right about now. It’s true – for the majority of authors. So, then why do we put up with the crap?

Because we can’t imagine doing anything else.

Many authors are among the lucky minority who have found what they are truly meant to do in life. Their passion.

Now, I have never been given the chance to see if I am one of those people. But I have been given the chance to see that I could be. A perfect storm of circumstances in my life have led me here – to my books, to my writing community, to a road I’d never have imagined.

Here’s where Thanksgiving comes into this. I have a lot of things to be thankful for. Here I’m going to focus on that which has brought my stories to you.

Episodic Ataxia

You aren’t reading that wrong. Yes, I really am thankful for my disability. Would I like to be healthy and living a normal life? Of course, But I also know that I’d never written a page of fiction before spending six horrible bed-ridden months almost four years ago. I’m not longer bed-ridden, but I know that if I could work full-time using my degree that my seven books wouldn’t even be a blip on my radar. I’ve always thought that you have to find the good in every situation and my situation has allowed me to find something that I truly love to do for the first time in my life. I don’t know if I’ll get better, but I do know that an author is something I will always be whether I can walk or not.

My support system

Family. Friends. Anyone who has read my books and been there for me through everything.

The writing community

This is one of the best things I’ve gained in the last few years. I’ve made some very very good friends. When this gets hard, you are the ones who pull me back up and keep me going.

Amazon

Authors – especially big ones – love to rail against amazon. They own a large portion of the book market and their share of the publishing market is growing by the day. You love to control us, we know that. But you also get our stories out there. Without you, we’d have no voice.

Creativia Publishing

You were like a life-line when I felt like I was drowning. Signing with you let me focus on making my stories the best they can be. I’m excited to see what more we can do together.

Anyone in my life whoever encouraged me to read.

Reading has been different things to me at different times. Entertainment. Inspiration. Happiness. And most of all – it was an escape for a teenage girl with an unknown, at times scary, illness.

Along with that – my readers.

All I’ve ever wanted to do is provide that escape for someone else who needs it just as much as I always did.


My books are published by Creativia Publishing. Check out my profile HERE.

10 Questions With an Audio-Book Producer

 

One of the coolest things I’ve been able to do as an author is have some of my books made into audio-books. Dawn of Rebellion has been available in the format for a few months and Day of Reckoning releases soon. 

I was lucky to partner with someone who has done a better job voicing my girls than I ever could have imagined. Hearing Danielle Cohen bring them to life has been mind blowing. 

Here is Danielle!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am an English lass living in the woods of Vermont with my husband and two daughters.  Apart from acting, I am a trained fitness instructor, love baking and cake decorating, volunteer at numerous libraries in the area and love to read! I drive a VW Beetle. 

How did you get into audio-book narration?

Oddly, I feel like I have always been some kind of narrator!  From a very young age I would read articles from the newspaper aloud to my family and I dreamt of being a newsreader. I took speech and drama classes throughout my childhood; one of the skills you had to master was sight reading – a good skill to have as an audio-book narrator!

I pursued a career in acting, but put things on hold once I had a family.  Reading aloud to my children was probably the catalyst that made me realize that audio-book narration was for me; I loved it, they loved it.  Moving to a quiet house in the woods where it’s easy to record with no background noise of planes, trains and automobiles seemed like destiny!

What do you look for in a book when deciding to take a project on?

The book has to be interesting for me and omething I think some member of my family would read.  We are all avid readers and have very different tastes, so I think we have most bases covered.  I enjoy novels with lots of characters and enjoy young adult and fantasy in particular.

In Dawn of Rebellion, you showcase your talent for accents – having to do British, American, and American southern. What other accents do you have in your toolbox and how did you master them?

From a young age I was always doing impressions of people from television programs, so I think my love of accents is innate.  I grew up in England with a lot of American and Australian TV, so sometimes I think that helped me with those accents.  I also do a variety of British regional accents too and am always happy to try out more.  Now with the wonders of the internet, working on accents is easier.

What’s your favorite thing about producing audio-books?

I love the reading!  I can’t think of a better way to spend my day.

Least favorite thing?

I sit a lot…especially during the editing process.  I am a pretty active person and sitting for prolonged periods is not easy for me!

How long does it typically take you to finish producing a book?

It depends on the length and style of the book.   For me, with kids getting home from school at 3.30 pm, my working day is often cut short, so I would say about 3- 4 weeks. 

 

Describe your recording setup.

I am lucky that I live in a very quiet house, in the middle of the woods.  I record in my little booth in the basement, which has just enough room for my microphone, stool and a side table for my water.  I use a Rode NT-1 cardioid mic and edit on Avid ProTools; it was all quite an investment, but I think it’s important to have high quality audio.

Can you describe, step by step, the process you go through?

When I get a job, I first read the book all of the way through, I do this for a number of reasons: I like to get a feel for the style of writing; I want to understand what characters are involved and plan how to voice them.  I make notes of words I need to check how to pronounce; it’s funny, I have been reading all my life, yet each book will inevitably throw up some words that I may have never said aloud and I feel I need to double check them! 

I record the audio in batches – usually I do about 2 hours of recording and then spend the rest of my day editing. The editing is much more time consuming and depending on how fluently I have read (!) can vary in length.  I would say every finished hour of audio has probably taken me 6 hours of work in all.

Once I have edited each chapter, I listen through to it, following the manuscript to check for mistakes, I like to be thorough. Interestingly, reading the book so closely, it’s not uncommon for me to find the occasional typo/mistake that I can then tell the author about.

The final mastering process involves using filters in ProTools to ensure that every minute of the finished book sounds its best and is at the correct listening volume.

I then upload the chapter for the rights holder to approve.

How would you characterize Dawn of Rebellion?

I see Dawn of Rebellion as a young adult novel about two sisters who won’t give up on each other in a dystopian world.  It reminded me of The Hunger Games and other books in that genre where people are trying to survive in a broken society.


Dawn of Rebellion is published by Creativia Publishing. You can see it on their site HERE. 

A Bigger Story

 

We’ve been celebrating Dawn of Rebellion for a month now and it’s been fun, but sometimes I forget that the story is so much bigger than that. The scope changes in the final two parts of the trilogy. We go from one sister trying to save another to two sisters being thrown into the middle of a hopeless war.

But that is where we’re wrong. There is always hope. It’s a lesson these girls have to learn the hard way. Hope means different things to people. To Gabby it begins to be something she can strive for. If she can be a part of something big, do her part, maybe just maybe she can grasp it. She puts her faith in actions, battles.

For Dawn, it matters how you do something., not only what you do. Hope is an ideal that she pins on others.  She puts her faith in people.

Today is the day when everything changes.

Today is the day we becoming known.

Their differences make the story what it is. Day of Reckoning sees Dawn and Gabby explore Texas, discovering truths that put them in danger at every turn. We meet Jonathan Clarke and his band of rebels, including a few surprise characters. Dawn explores one of the only remaining rAmerican cities. Then they fight. The colonies are a powder keg, waiting for someone to light the match and there is a line of people anxious to do just that.

Day of Reckoning has been called exciting and dark. It takes everything to a whole new level.

Now you can listen to the amazing narrator as she takes on British, American, and Texas-American accents!

 


Dawn of Rebellion is published by Creativia Publishing. You can see it on their site HERE.

10 Questions With an Editor

 

I’ll boldy state that I made a mistake when I published Dawn of Rebellion. I didn’t have it professionally edited. It was an amateur attempt at putting a book out there. But, we live and we learn. It has since gone through multiple versions before landing with a publisher. 

Patrick Hodges read one of those early versions and had the guts to tell me the story is great, but it needs edited. So he did. And he did a fantastic job. Since then, he has edited each of my books. 

 

Get to know Dawn’s editor!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Phoenix, and currently reside in Glendale, Arizona. I have been married to my lovely wife Vaneza for fifteen years, and she is my biggest supporter.  We have no children (unless you count fur kids, in which case we have three, two that bark and one that meows). By day, I work as a medical biller, and am a staunch fan of the Diamondbacks and Cardinals. I love to read, mostly Young Adult, and I ONLY read indie authors, because they need my support, and because some of them are awesome!

How did you get into editing?

I read a lot of indie books, especially from authors that I have come to know.  If I notice typos, I figured it’s my duty to inform the author so they can take steps to correct it.  Before I knew it, authors were asking me to go over their current projects, asking me to edit them before they were published.

How does being an author yourself help with your editing?

It helps a lot. It’s tough to tell authors how something should be written without being a writer yourself. I’ve learned so much from editing others just what it means to be an editor, as well as a writer.

How long does it usually take you to fully edit a book?

Depends on the length, usually. Having a full-time job and a wife that likes me to pay attention to her on occasion, the amount of time I can devote to editing on a daily basis varies. Sandwich that around doing my own writing, and the consistency of life to always intervene, and, well, you get the picture.  I try to always have my projects finished in 2-3 weeks.

All authors have bad habits. One of an editor’s jobs is to fix them. What are some of the most common bad habits you see?

A lot of authors, I’ve found, don’t use hyphens in two-word phrases that need them, choosing instead to write them as separate words or just one word. Every author and editor has different theories about how to properly use colons, semicolons, emdashes and ellipses, but a lot of authors have problems using these appropriately. But the biggest problem I’ve found is that writers don’t use commas correctly, preferring instead to use run-on sentences that make a lot more sense when commas are inserted.

What is the biggest challenge you face?

Finding the time. I may have to take a year off to catch up on sleep at some point.

What do you enjoy most about jumping into another writer’s world?

The same as any reader, I guess. Getting a taste of someone else’s creativity and imagination is a treat whether you’re editing someone’s work or merely reading it. There’s nothing better than burying yourself in someone else’s world, and the better-written it is, the better the experience.

 

Favorite genre to edit? Why?

I’ve read, and edited, almost every fictional genre. If I had a favorite to edit, it would probably be Young Adult books, because that is what I read the most (and write).

Do you edit your own book? If not, what makes that more difficult?
Most editors and pundits will tell you that you should never edit your own stuff, and there is some truth to that, because you can never look at your own stuff with an unbiased eye. That being said, I do edit my own work purely on a copy-editing scale – I am good about catching my own typographical errors and such. However, as far as content goes, I have an amazing team of betas that have been of such help to me, pointing out inconsistencies, plot holes, and whatnot. This is probably the best substitution for paying a qualified editor (who can often be hella expensive).

Dawn of Rebellion is turning three this year. Describe the series in your own words and how it made you feel.

I’ve read many books and many series since becoming a writer and editor. Very few have packed such an emotional wallop, or was such a roller-coaster, as the Dawn of Rebellion series. I love stories that keep me on the edge of my seat, making me turn page after page. This series did that for me.