Author Interview: Aimee Salter

Pen Friends ~ Meet Aimee Salter, author of A Dark Touch & Every Ugly Word, and 2017 PitchWars Mentor, who is here to share all kinds of writing gems with us.

Hi Aimee! Thanks for joining us. First, please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing? 

Hi there. Thank you for having me!

I’m Aimee L. Salter. I’m an American who grew up in New Zealand, married a kiwi, have a kiwi son, and am now back in Oregon permanently.

I’ve always dabbled with writing and have loved it since I was in elementary school. I had a couple false starts on books earlier in life, but the first manuscript I ever completed with an eye to publication was in 2009, when I was 33. I got my first publishing contract in 2014 when I was 38. Continue reading

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Author Interview: McKelle George

Pen friends! McKelle George, an editor and debut author of Speak Easy, Speak Love –a 1920’s retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, is here to share her writing life and editing tips with us!

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SP: Hi McKelle! Thanks for joining us. First, please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing?

Hi! I’m a young adult writer and my debut Speak Easy, Speak Love comes out this month. I’ve always done a little writing (mostly fanfic and RP), but I made the decision to seriously write the summer of 2011. (:

SP: So lets talk about your debut, Speak Easy, Speak Love. How did this idea develop? How long did it take for you to write it? Unknown-12 Continue reading

Author Interview: Carrie Anne Noble

Pen Friends ~ Today we have awesome YA Author, Carrie Anne Noble, to chat about the writing life and her newly-released novel, The Gold-Son!

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SP: Welcome Carrie Anne! Can you start out by telling us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?

C: Hi! I’m a stay-at-home mom/writer who lives in the beautiful mountains of Pennsylvania with my family and assorted pets (currently two cats, a dog, a lizard, a foster hedgehog, and some chickens). I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember, but I really got hooked on it when I was about eleven years old.

SP: Essential info next: Tea or Coffee? And one fact about yourself that we wouldn’t know by looking at you?  Continue reading

Author Interview: Hannah Heath

Pen Friends ~ Come meet Indie YA author & super awesome writing-blogger, Hannah Heath!

images-43SP: Hi Hannah! Thanks for being with us. Can you start out by telling us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?

Hello! First off, thank you for inviting me on to your awesome website! I’m an author of YA Christian speculative fiction, a bookworm, chai-tea-lover, and all-around nerd. While I write mostly fantasy, I read everything from classic literature to comic books. I started writing a couple of years before I knew how to spell correctly, inspired by authors who brought beautiful worlds, new ideas, and courageous thoughts into my mind.

SP: So, let’s talk about Skies of Dripping Gold. How did this idea come about? How was your journey self-publishing it? 

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I have Lyme Disease. It is physically painful and has brought on a lot of spiritual suffering. I’ve struggled to come to terms with how God fits into all of the pain and, through this, I discovered Gabriel and his fight with these same questions. Self-publishing this story was insane: I’d never done it before and didn’t have any friend who had experience in the area. Thus, the formatting was a nightmare (seriously un-fun) and the marketing aspect was a complete unknown. But I learned a lot and was especially touched by all of the amazing people who took the time to review Skies of Dripping Gold, recommend it to others, and take a few moments to message me personally about the story. It has been (and continues to be) an incredible journey.

 

SP: We’d love to pick your brain about your blog. It’s witty, enjoyable and totally packed with great writing tips. How do you decide on topics and where did you learn all of these guru like tips? How do you balance your writing time versus social media/blogging time? 

As much as I’d like to tell you that I have a super intelligent, organized system for my blog, I really can’t. I keep a running list of topics on a whiteboard as I get questions from followers or come across interesting techniques in my various readings. I choose a topic the day before the post is due based off of what I find most interesting during that specific moment. My tips largely come from writing stories and reading other people’s books. I take note of things I like, things I would improve, things that make my eyes bleed, and then go from there. Because it’s such an interconnected system, sometimes my blogging platform time and personal writing time try to blend together, so I set up specific times each week dedicated to these separate activities.

SP: You were a host for this year’s WriteOnCon Conference. How did that happen? What is one (or more) things you learned from hosting it and the conference itself?

Out of the vast expanses of the web, the WriteOnCon team noticed me and knew that I was the best person for the job. Just kidding. One of their team members got sick about two weeks before the event. Alyssa Hollingsworth, one of the lovely creators of this conference who I’d made friends with through twitter and blogging, messaged me and asked if I could fill in. I sent back a (somewhat) professional acceptance response as soon as I saw her request, then proceeded to dance around my room. I learned two things from this event: 1) Pulling these types of events off is a lot more difficult that you’d imagine and requires a lot of teamwork and persistence. 2) We’re all in the same boat: Every writer struggles with similar insecurities and has similar questions about the writing world, so it’s important to be brave, encourage each other, and keep writing.

SP: You started young. How did your parents view your writing? Were they supportive? 

I’m blessed to have incredibly supportive parents. My mom is a former English teacher who not only cheered me on, but reads and gives feedback on all of my rough drafts. My dad enjoys reading about as much as Obi Wan enjoys flying, yet he voluntarily read Skies of Dripping Gold and keeps up on all of my blog posts. I cannot express how much their support means to me.

SP: What is your biggest distraction while writing and how do you combat it?

I’m a perfectionist, so letting my rough drafts be…well, rough, is really difficult for me. I need every sentence to read well, which is an extremely good way to go insane. I’ve had to learn to be okay with writing down something crummy and coming back later to edit it.

SP: Favorite snack or drink while writing? And one more fact about yourself that we wouldn’t know by looking at you?  

None, actually, though I do love listening to music and lighting some good-smelling incense. And don’t let the brightly-colored hair fool you: I love black-and-white rom-coms. I could watch Bringing Up Baby for weeks on end.

SP: Ultimate life-time writing goal? 

Well, after my recent trip to London, my current goal is to write several best-selling Christian sci-fi and fantasy novels and buy a house in the Cotswolds. However, I’ll settle for writing books that encourage and inspire my readers to dream big, trust in Jesus, and push on through their fears.

SP: Ok, which authors/books inspired you growing up and which books are on your TBR list this summer? *SP is doing a summer reading list challenge

As cliche as this will sound: C.S. Lewis has been a massive inspiration to me. I love his honesty and creativity. Aside from Lewis, Douglas Adams showed me the many glorious possibilities of sarcasm and J.K. Rowling taught me how to spin amazing character arcs. My TBR list this summer is bizarre, so don’t run away: I’m reading Dostoevsky (specifically The Idiot and Demons), catching up on Marvel comics, and delving into some classic Japanese authors (Edogawa Rampo, Doppo Kunikida, and Osamu Dazai, among others).

SP: Lol. Not running anywhere. Enjoy! Now, where can we learn more about you and your books? 

Oooo. A question that I know the answer for without having to sit back and think! You guys can visit my website to learn more about my books: http://hannahheathwriter.com. You can also check out my blog for weekly writing tips, along with links to various social media accounts. I’d love to chat with you, so feel free to leave comments or get in touch with me via my website/social medias!

SP: Thanks Hannah!!!

Thank you so much for the fun opportunity!

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Nova, signing off.

Author Interview: Carlie Sorosiak

Pen Friends ~ We should be just a tad (read super-mega) excited because today we have the lovely YA Author Carlie Sorosiak with us!! Her YA book, If Birds Fly Back, is fast becoming the next bestselling, swoony, STEM-y (that means: nerdy smart stuff), read of the summer!

 

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SP: Hi Carlie! Thanks for being with us. Can you start out by telling us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?

Thank you so much for having me! So, my first novel just published in the US and UK—it’s called If Birds Fly Back, and it’s about family and first love and disappearances. I’ve been writing for a long time. I went to a Montessori elementary school, where we had journal time every day. Besides recess and the hours reading in a beanbag chair, it was my favorite activity. I wrote my first full-length novel between the ages of nine and thirteen, and although I took a little detour into biology and defense studies during university, I’ve ended up exactly where I want to be.

SP: As one who splits her time between two continents, where do you feel most at home? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? You mentioned wanting to achieve an accent like Madonna’s… have you? Continue reading

Author Interview: Sarena and Sasha Nanua

Pen Friends ~ We couldn’t be more excited to introduce to you two young twin authors, Sarena and Sasha Nanua, who have been wildly successful in their pursuit of writing, book blogging, publishing, and much more. (See below!)

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SP: Hi Sarena and Sasha! Thanks for being with us. Can you start out by telling us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?

Sure! First off—thanks for having us! We’re super excited to be here! To start, we’re Sarena and Sasha Nanua, twin authors, book bloggers, and, of course, voracious readers. We began writing when we were nine years old, when we were super bored on an airplane and thought, Hey, why don’t we write a book? We finished the first book the following year and began writing in lots of journals, but never really finished another book until we were fourteen. We decided to self-publish our book, The Gemstone, when we were fifteen, and the subsequent novels in the series came out when we were sixteen and seventeen. Since then, we’ve written and revised two novels and are very excited to see where they head in the future!  Continue reading

Author Interview: Caroline George

Pen Friends ~ We are pleased to welcome Young Adult author, Caroline George to talk about her upcoming book, her writing journey, and her writing advice with SP readers and writers!

C-c3x8aUwAAp7SZSP: Welcome Caroline! Can you start out by telling us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?

Overview: I’m the author of “The Prime Way Trilogy” and “The Vestige.” I write for “Pursue Magazine,” lead startup company Local Publishing and work as a part-time publicist for recording artist Autrey. When I’m not attached to my laptop, I’m attending college classes at Belmont University, meeting with friends at Nashville coffeehouses or serving with ministry My Local. All that said, I’m a productivity junkie who believes in making the most of time and living life to the fullest.

Stories have been my passion since I was a toddler. Before I could hold a pencil, I told my mom stories, she’d write them down and let me illustrate the pages. In middle school, I started writing with fervor and made it a goal to be published by my sixteenth birthday. 

Writing began as a therapeutic escape from my preteen troubles but morphed into a vision fueled by calling, determination and stubbornness.  

SP: Essential info next. Tea or Coffee? And one fact about yourself that we wouldn’t know by looking at you?

Coffee. Always. I’m convinced it’s a food group. Whenever I go out to eat, I usually end up at a coffeehouse.

Fun Fact: Unlike most authors, I’m a total extrovert. I love public speaking, meeting new people and stepping out of my comfort zone.

 SP: So, let’s talk about your new book, THE VESTIGE. How did this idea come about? unnamed.jpg

I was sitting in Starbucks when I realized my life was pretty. The people around me sipping their lattes were pretty. The shopping mall across the highway was filled with pretty things. But when I checked my news feed and saw disturbing headlines, I concluded that my life is nothing more than an illusion: The world isn’t a pretty place, yet it is unbelievably easy for people to go throughout their day without noticing the dirt.

“The Vestige” was born from the questions: What if the end of the world has already occurred? What if our final demise happened slowly, secretly . . . and we’ve been oblivious to it all?

If we live in a pretty bubble of shopping malls and Starbucks, could we miss the truth because we’re too comfortable to see it?

“The Vestige” is a book close to my heart. It began as a mashup of several story ideas but transformed into a call to action, a call to awareness.

 SP: Evernight Teen Publishing – How has your experience been with them?

The Evernight Teen staff have been professional, fast and kind. They’ve supported my over-the-top marketing plan and worked to provide the materials needed for a successful release. 

SP: Awesome to hear. We are very impressed that you started writing and publishing at such a young age! Can you share your secrets on writing habits, editing and publishing with our teen and adults writers?  

Successful writing, in my opinion, is the product of a tenacious attitude and purpose-driven mindset. Habits can help provide the atmosphere needed to write, but they can’t keep someone writing.

My advice:

1.    Write with purpose. If you don’t believe in your work’s message, you won’t be an effective writer and will most likely give up when the process gets tough. However, if you’re certain your words will make a difference, you’ll write with urgency and will remain steadfast in the trials.

2.    Write with an audience in mind. Answer the questions: Why am I writing? For who am I writing? What do I want readers to gain from my work? 

3.    Write to write, not to publish. If your main goal is to get your words on paper, you’ll be satisfied whether or not your work is published.

My habits include a certain layout—coffee mug on the right-hand side of my computer, notebook on the left-hand side, mood-setting music and public environment. I do my best work in coffeehouses or at my dining room table.

Author Isaac Marion said it best: “No, writers don’t write in coffee shops so people will see us writing. What kind of loser would do that? It’s because we’re incredibly lonely.”

Editing and publishing tips:

1.    Know the publishing industry. Do your research. 

2.    Hire an editor or recruit someone with knowledge of current market trends to review your work. Don’t exclusively rely on friends and family to edit your writing.

3.    Make sure everything you publish is high quality.

4.    Treat your writing as a business.

5.    Look for innovative ways to market yourself.

6.    Get on social media and build your platform! 

SP: Great advice. So, how was your road to finding an agent? Any advice on querying?

There are many ways to find and land an agent. I first went to New York City and pitched to agents at a writing conference. I queried hundreds of literary agencies but ended up signing with the agent of an author friend. She recommended my work to him, he read my proposal and signed me a few days later.

My advice: Do research, write a professional query and send it to agents who represent your genre. But also make connections. Relationships with professionals in the publishing industry will help you more than career opportunities. If you value people and their time, they will value you and your work.

 SP: Ok, you are into surfing. Give us the story. How did you learn and what is your favorite surfing story?Surfing.jpeg

A few years ago, my friend invited me to Florida to celebrate her birthday. Surfing was on her bucket list. We went to Daytona Beach as a hurricane swirled in the Atlantic, rented pink soft-tops and surf shirts, and followed our teenage instructor to the beach.

Waves pelted the shore in roaring surges. They towered over my head and smacked me down the moment I stepped foot in the water.

“This seems like a bad idea,” I said as the surfing instructor led my friend and me into the foamy deathtrap. 

What most people would consider a dumb decision ended up being one of my favorite memories. I learned to surf before the storm hit. I wiped out, bruised myself on the ocean floor and got slapped several times by my own board. It hurt, but I loved every moment of it.

Surfing is an experience that can’t be effectively described. I often tell people when I first stand on the beach and gaze out at the sea, I’m foreign—I don’t belong in the water. However, when a wave catches me, I melt into it, become a part of the ocean’s heartbeat. It accepts me.

Granted, I’m not the best surfer. I do it whenever I have the chance. Two months ago, I surfed in California for the first time and discovered how much I appreciate wetsuits. 

I can’t wait to get out on the waves when I go to Australia in a few weeks.

SP: Ooh, enjoy Oz! And, Vestige is not the only book you have written. Where can we learn more about you and your books? 

“The Prime Way Trilogy” is available to purchase from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

If you’d like to learn more about my work, visit my website authorcarolinegeorge.com. I’m also active on all social media platforms.

Twitter: @CarolineGeorge_

Instagram: @authorcarolinegeorge

SnapChat: @authorcarolineg

Facebook/AuthorCarolineGeorge

SP: Thanks Caroline!

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Nova, Signing off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The North Texas Teen Book Festival: 2017

endless signIf you ever doubt that today’s youth are into reading, all you need to do to is attend a book festival like this last weekend, where over ten thousand teens from all over Texas came to hear their favorite authors, ask them questions ranging from what inspires them to how they come up with their complex plots; sign hundreds of books, get the latest on booktubing from the pros, win prizes, buy swag, and of course, hear the answer to that age-old question: Can I be a writer, too?

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Author Interview: Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon

Pen Friends ~ We are overjoyed to have YA Authors Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp with us today to talk about their co-written series DOON and their journey to becoming an author. 

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SP: Hi Carey and Lorie! Thanks for being with us. Can you start out by telling us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?

Lorie: Hi everyone! Thanks for having us on the blog! By way of brief introduction, I’m a wife, mom, Christ-follower, author, and Wonder Woman Wannabe. I’ve wanted to be an author since I read my first Judy Blume novel, but when I entered college that didn’t seem like a practical career choice, so I chose another path. It took many years of working in the business world for me to go back to my true calling.

Carey: Hey there! *waves* I’m Carey, mom, full time corporate marketer, pet lover, Believer, and Hamilton enthusiast (uh, that’s the PC way of saying obsessed, right?). I always wanted to be a writer, I just didn’t know it. When I was 7, I wrote a captivating retelling of Star Wars, see it here Lucas—shmookas! I wrote Star Wars. I spent the summer after 6th grade writing a hundred pages of soap opera that was a Santa Barbara knockoff. Then I forgot about writing until several lifetimes later when I had a crazy dream after watching the PJ Hogan live action version of Peter Pan. The next morning I wrote what would before the first chapter in my novel Shades of Neverland. From that day on, I was hooked (oh ya, pun intended). But it would still be another lifetime before getting published. Continue reading

Editor Talk with BLINK YA’s Jillian Manning

Pen Friends ~ We are elated to have Blink YA Book’s Editor Jillian Manning with us today. Hope you enjoy her insights, tips, and recommendations!

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SP: Welcome Jillian! Let’s start personal ~Who are you and how long have you worked as an editor? Which books made you fall in love with the publishing industry?

I’m Jillian Manning, one of the editors at Blink YA Books. I’m a Michigan girl, cat lover, list maker, and avid YA reader. (Grown-up books? Yikes.) I’ve worked in publishing since my early college days, and have been an editor here at Blink for over two years. According to my mother, I started reading when I was two years old (though that may be a parental exaggeration), and I haven’t stopped since. I grew up reading Tamora Pierce, J.K. Rowling, and Caroline B. Cooney, and I decided I either wanted to be them or work with people like them. When I found out being an editor meant you could read for a living…well, I was hooked. Continue reading