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.

What You Didn’t Know

 

Surprise! Every Author is different. We don’t all write the same way or choose names the same way. Some outline and others … don’t. 

I even write my own books in different ways. Sometimes I do more planning, sometimes I just let the story come. When it comes to names, it’s much easier to use people I know in my romances. Less risk of killing my sisters or best friends. Haha. 

So, here’s what you may not have known about Dawn of Rebellion. Your peek behind the curtain as the saying goes. 

  • I’m a pantser, not a plotter. When writing Dawn of Rebellion, I had no idea I’d turn it into a series until the end.

  • There are only two characters in the series named after people I know. After bothof them died, I stopped using the names of people I love.

  • Coming up with names is difficult. Many of mine are the names of hockey players and characters on Battlestar Glactica which I was watching at the time. Lee and Sam, seen below, come to mind.

  • Without giving spoilers, I’ll say that I cried when someone died at the end. They were my favorite character. I’ve gotten angry reviews about that, but necessity won over feelings. 

  • Cliff hangers. Love them or hate them? At the time, that was the popular way to write. Now, I don’t know if I’d do it the same way.

  • Have you ever eaten Alligator? Gabby and Jeremy eat it in the camp, loving every bite. It’s actually pretty disgusting.

  • It took me two months to write the first draft and then I didn’t touch it for three. I wasn’t going to publish it, only showing it to my friend, Bri. She convinced me to move forward with editing.

A Book That Changed My Life

 

This month marks the third year anniversary of Dawn of Rebellion and I’ve been trying to figure out what that means to me as the book’s author.

As authors, we take pride in everything we write. The time and commitment and hopefully the skill that is put into our books gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. The day the proof copies of our newest book show up in the mail is like Christmas.

Dawn of Rebellion was my first book and I experienced all the normal emotions, but it wasn’t normal for me. In order to try to explain what I mean, I have to get personal. I’ve never been shy about talking about my disability. It’s not something I’m ashamed of, it’s just something I have to live with. I have episodic ataxia. Now, I highly doubt most of you have heard of it. Not much is known about it. There’s no cure and no treatment. Think of an advanced case of untreated MS.

I’ve struggled with varying degrees of the illness for most of my life, but when I was eighteen, it disappeared. It felt like a miracle. I’d get to live a normal life. I went off to college and enjoyed the best four years of my life.

About six months after graduation, I started having frequent episodes again. For the first six months, I could hardly get out of bed. I was shattered to say the least. Here I was, twenty-three-years-old and suddenly disabled – even worse than I had been when I was younger.

So I started to write. It started out of boredom. There’s only so much Netflix you can watch. I never expected to finish a book, let alone have it be any good, but I did. All of a sudden, I had something to look forward to again. A belief that I could still do something worthwhile. I think we underestimate the importance of that. Of productivity. Of having something you love to do.  

Most people have told me that the writing gets better in each subsequent book, which would make Dawn the roughest, but it will always be my favorite. Gabby and Dawn, our adventurous sisters, got me through the hardest time in my life. They’re family.

I’ve said before that Dawn of Rebellion saved me, but that seems too dire. So, for now, we’ll just say that it changed my life. It taught me the greatest lesson I could have learned. Disability doesn’t mean I can’t dream. It just means I have to redefine what those dreams are. 

Cheese in Romance

CHEESE! Oh glorious cheese, how we love you so; on our pizzas, over our pasta, just basically in our bellies any and every way. Don’t stop coming. Never quit melting. You are beautiful and wonderful and oh so very tasty.

 

On our plates you shall stay and from our brains you’ll keep away. Ok, so I’m terrible at rhyming. I’m a fiction writer not a poet and it’ll stay that way. Hey! Another one! Stopping now. I promise. Back to the fiction writing thing, one of the series I write is romance. Don’t laugh at me, or do as long as you buy my books. That was a joke – if anyone out there is a little humor challenged.

Romance gets a bad rep and sadly, a lot of what is said is true. Some people don’t like the steamy aspects that seem to be creeping in to more books than not. Mine tend to be on the cleaner side- I mean, come on, my DAD reads them so I only write what I’m comfortable with him seeing. Some people hate the predictability of romance books- well, sorry folks, most of the time the characters are going to end up together. If they didn’t, there’d be hell to pay from angry hordes of romance readers.

But, forget all of that for a moment. It doesn’t matter, at least to me. When I read a romance book, I stop at the nauseating, eye-roll worthy, puke inducing cheesiness. I firmly believe that every romance has its cheesy moments, but COME ON!

When you read a book, or write one for that matter, you’re imagining yourself in that story. Book boyfriends/girlfriends are real things in the genre because people fall in love with the things the character says or does. Just picture it, the leading man comes to you- all hooded eyes, wicked smile, and chiseled physique- he opens his mouth to pour his heart out and says“You’re the light to my darkness.” Or “I’ve loved you since the moment I met you, I just didn’t know it yet.” I don’t know about you, but I’d probably do one of two things- Laugh despite trying to hold it back or make tiny little gagging sounds.


I’m a realist, sometimes a cynic, and I tend to write like one. That isn’t to say that extreme cheesiness doesn’t occasionally creep in, but it’s usually caught before publication. I just sent my new book, Confessions, off to the editor after a couple rounds of beta readers. Wanna know some of the stuff one of them caught? I actually said “The truth will set him free”. I didn’t catch that while I was editing. See, even us anti-cheesers do it sometimes. Anti-cheeser – I like that word!

Words can be cheesy too. It doesn’t have to be full sentences or ideas. Some people have

 

visceral reactions to certain terms. I know at least five people who cringe when someone says “moist” but that’s different. I’m talking about the cutesy poo, lovey dovey words or phrases. Some books make my eyes hurt from all the rolling they do when they use the terms “snuggle” or“cuddle”. I picture my two-year-old niece looking up at me and saying “Wanna snuggle?”

I have the same reaction to certain words in steamier romances, but I’ll leave those to your imagination. I know, I know. You want to hear them, but this is a blog for people who read YA and clean romances. Jeeze guys, cool your jets!

Anyway, it’s simple. This is my no-cheese policy – or just the ramblings of an incoherent, brain jumbled writer. Your pick.

Finding Inspiration

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

-Saul Bellow

I know what you’re all picturing right about now. A stereotypical writer, lying in bed – maybe some crumpled papers surrounding them because they fell asleep trying to make sense of the book they were writing. It was frustrating. The writer’s block was fierce until they finally closed their eyes, glasses slightly askew, hair mussed. Their eyes suddenly pop open. A sly grin tugs at the corner of their lips. Their husband or wife grumbles something unintelligible as the newly energized writer rolls out of bed, pulls on a robe, and sits down in front of their type writer – because, why not? 

You don’t fool me, that’s exactly what you think of when someone says “writer’s inspiration” as if it’s a singular “AHA” moment where the story floods their mind. Well, I’m here to tell you that those moments aren’t enough. Your book can’t survive on rare golden nights. They would starve without the coffee filled mornings or the average, not-so-special days of writing.  

So, what does the writer do? Why, they create inspiration of course! Some would call it  

finding rather than creating, but I am not one of those people. In order to be inspired, you have to be open to it; you have to look for it. You must let the ordinary seem extraordinary. This is creation – taking the mundane and seeing it for what it is. Life. Life is inspiring.

There are two lines from an iconic Willy Wonka song that stick with me as a writer.

“Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination.”

“What we’ll see will defy explanation.”

 You can’t explain it, but you must look for it and it will be there. The best writers have learned to channel the energy of their daily lives into their works. Family, jobs, pets, friends, big life events. All fodder for books; all things that inspire creativity. For those of you that surround an author, keeping their life interesting, don’t stop.

This one might surprise, but sporting events can inspire. I’ve written an entire book based on a hockey team and I’ll tell you a little secret. It’s my best book.

Things in life that bring you joy, grieve you, anger you, or make you laugh. Take Willy Wonka’s words to heart and you’ll see. You’ll find what you need to be inspired and to inspire others. Don’t forget, you too are a piece in someone else’s story. They may not need that “AHA” moment either. They might just need you.

Read Young Adult

An age old question – you’ll get my pun in a moment – about the Young Adult genre has had people baffled for years. What does Young Adult mean? Does it describe the age of the readers? The age of the characters? Or something else entirely? The genre takes on many forms and different people describe it differently. Some people include middle grade fiction and even down to children’s fiction in this category. Others don’t.

I am one of the latter. I read a ton of YA books – dystopian, contemporary, paranormal – you name it. I also write YA – dystopian, and romance books that span the void between YA and NA fiction.

I’m no expert. We all have our own way of looking at the genre. But I am opinionated – boy, am I opinionated. So, bear with me while I talk about what I think as if it’s fact (I tend to do that a lot). 

In YA, the characters are young adults. There, simple enough for you? They’re teenagers or early twenty somethings. YA carries the stigma with it that it is literature for teenagers. Books like Twilight perpetuated the stereotype while books like The Hunger Games broke it. The HG brought us an uber-popular YA book that was now being read by all ages. I am twenty-seven which some people say is past the target for YA. Well, I say bullshit (pardon my French).

It may be a little strange when I’m crushing on these teenage boys (I have a habit of falling in love with the men of the books I read) and wanting to be friends with the strong female leads that YA seems to get right over every other genre, but I don’t care anymore.  

If you are one of those people who refuse to read Young Adult books because they are “too young” for you, then I’m sorry. You are missing out. No other genre exhibits the heart and soul of YA. We get to see characters grow and change and become who they are meant to be. We see first loves and new experiences. We see people overcome all the odds to save the world – or even just save the ones they love.

Reading is like nothing else. It’s an amazing experience that lets you see the world differently. Reading YA is even better. It lets you feel the world differently.

My name is Michelle Lynn. I read Young Adult. I write Young Adult. I am not a Young Adult. 

I Am a Writer

It took quite a while for me to be able to say this without scrunching my face up and laughing in embarrassment. I had two books published and on sale before I could force the word “author” past my lips. There’s a stigma attached to it, one that I used to buy in to on some level. Writers are people who have nothing better to do with their time. They are loners. Most of them will never amount to anything. Here’s the best: writing is easy! Easy! I wish it was easy!

Truth be told, I never wrote more than school papers before I became sick and disabled. Suddenly I had a lot of free time- check. I never felt well enough to be around many people- check. I’ll probably never make much money at writing so if that’s how you judge accomplishment then that’s another one off the list. Now, easy? Sure, drafting stories and creating characters comes naturally to me but that’s different. I guess I’ll settle for three of the four.

Is that why I was embarrassed to call myself a writer when I was well on my way to having published a completed trilogy? People judge and the first thing they usually want to know about you is how you make your money. That’s just how things go.

I couldn’t work but was tired of telling people I was on disability so that prodded me to get over myself. I can now say with pride that I AM A WRITER and here’s how you understand what that means for me:

1. I have imaginary friends.
I spend so much time with the characters that I’ve created that they begin to feel like friends, if not family. Creating dialogue is almost like talking to them and I grow very protective. I model some of them after people I know so that only adds to the feeling.

2. My bad moods can get violent.
Most people who know me only see the sweet, overly talkative Michelle. Occasional biting comments are my only defense mechanism. When my mood gets dark, so can my books. I start to blow shit up and kill beloved characters before I even realize what I’m doing. I hammer at the keyboard, writing vicious stabbings or fire fights. It’s pretty scary but a hell of a lot of fun.

3. I’m a little insane.
Some government watch list is probably monitoring my key strokes as I research how to build bombs and the different types of automatic weapons. At least I now know how to remove evidence from a dead body — that could come in handy.

4. I find typos in everything I read.
Yes, every best seller and magazine article has mistakes. I don’t mind that because nobody is perfect. What I hate is that I see them! Before becoming a writer, I was as blissfully ignorant as the rest of the readers who’s eyes don’t fully take in every word. It was wonderful. Now, I just want to bang my head against a wall.

5. Some days I think my books are great and some days I feel like they are trash. 

6. Good isn’t good enough.
A 3 star review is supposed to be good but anything below 5 stings. My books feel like they are a part of me and any judgement on them is a judgement on me.

7. And last, I am a terrible editor.
It’s true what they say- always hire an editor. I learned this the hard way when I published my first book. Many authors can do it- I can’t. I suck bad, yet I still spend hours upon hours trying to get it right.

So, there you go, dispelling some ideas about writers. We are all different. Being an author is fun but also challenging both mentally and emotionally. It’s never easy and most writers will never earn a living from it- but it is also a profession where accomplishment is not solely measured on income but on quality. Anyone with a half baked idea and a laptop can start a book but can they craft it in to something worth reading? Can they capture your mind and enhance your imagination?

That is the goal.

Fantasy Favorites

I can be fickle when it comes to fantasy books. Some of my all time favorites fit into the genre as do some of the most boring books I’ve ever read. I tend to love books that leave a lot to the imagination. The fantasy genre is ripe with long winded, overly descriptive passages. 

That being said, it can also be a genre of magic. I’m not talking about bippity boppity boo type of magic – although there is plenty of that. I’m talking about the kind of magic it takes to be completely immersed in another world from the comfort of your own house. Fantasy books are the best kind to disappear into. I’ll admit it, I’m an escapist. Sometimes you just need to forget everything. 

The amazing this about fantasies is that they’re about worlds that are created from scratch. Some of the best writers are in this genre. No other type of book takes the kind of planning or imagination as these. I’d lump science fiction in the same category – but I’m not quite as big a fan of those. 

So, here are my picks. All of these except for one are indies. There are a few others I absolutely love that I put in my romance post last week. So check them out there. 

 

Basically anything by Robin Hobb

This is my favorite series of all time. Fitz is a boy who was born on the wrong side of the sheets. When his mother dies, her family drops the young boy off on his father’s doorstep – if castles have doorsteps. He is the bastard son of a prince who is no longer around to claim him. He is taken under the wing of a man who trains him to do what needs to be done to protect the kingdom.  

Buy on Amazon

 

This series is one of the best I’ve read in the past year. It’s a stay-up-all-night type of deal. 

Daria is a young girl in Fresno. All she has is her father and her best friend Alex – who seems to have abandoned her. When her father disappears, she must go with Alex’s family to find him. Little does she know, it isn’t in her world they’ll be looking. She soon finds the reasons for the protective measures her dad has always taken as she learns who she truly is. 

I’ll reiterate. This one is amazeballs!

Buy on Amazon.

 

This book has a unique kind of world that I’ve never seen before. Two worlds spin opposite each other – one hot and one cold. As they rotate, sections of their world become uninhabitable, making the people need to migrate every so often. 

The two worlds are enemies. After tragedy strikes, the tatuma (princess) of one world is kidnapped and taken on the treacherous route to the other. This tatuma is veiled and has never even seen her own face. Her mother is the only one who knows the reason for this. As secrets come out, and more people learn the reason for the veil, the tatuma will need to take action.

Buy on Amazon

Writing For Sanity

I’ll say it bluntly, I was in danger of losing my mind.

I spent my adolescence in doctors offices and as part of medical trials. I was sick and we didn’t know why. Doctors were throwing diagnoses and medications at me like they were the darts and I was the dart board; forever searching for that elusive bulls-eye. I missed a lot of school and was unable to participate in many of the things people my age were supposed to. It was not easy.

Fast forward to my last year of high school. I had a new diagnosis and a medication that started to work. I was finally feeling better. I was finally a normal teenager. I could not have been happier. I was able to go off to college where I had the time of my life. Things could not have been better for me. I had tons of friends, was dating, and even joined a sorority. I thought I would finally be able to have a normal life. I would go on to get a great job and start a family. That’s what I hope would happen anyways.

After college I moved home and started to get sick again. The diagnosis was proven to be wrong and we were once again back to the drawing board. I was crushed. It might have been better if I had never had those good years at all; if I had never know what it felt like to be uninhibited by disease. The worst part was that it came back worse than ever. I had trouble even leaving the house. I spent more time in my bed than on my feet.

As you can imagine, my spirits were low. I’ve always been a happy person but the depression began to creep in.

I began to write.

I spent hours upon hours every day carefully crafting my words, never imagining anything would come of it. I created my own world. I focused on building characters that could do great things. I began to think less and less about my problems. Instead, my thoughts turned to unwritten chapter ideas and dialogue possibilities. Two months went by and I had my first draft of Dawn of Rebellion.

My illness had always left me feeling useless. I could accomplish anything. I was never really good at anything. I didn’t really have a passion for anything.

Until now.

Writing this book saved my sanity. It also made me realize that I am a writer and I have a story to tell. As long as I keep writing I can get through anything. Whether I sell 1 book or 1 million books, that’s not the point. I write because I love it. I write because I need it. I write for that one person out there that may be struggling and looking for a little inspiration as well.