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!

SP: Ok, you two are amazing book bloggers and social media gurus! You’ve seriously got a gift! So tell us, how have books and talking about them changed you?eugenio-mazzone-190204

Haha, thank you! Social media has played a huge role in our lives over the past few years. When we were young we never thought we’d get Facebook or Twitter; then we wrote The Gemstone and were readying it to be published, and realized—social media is important! Especially for YA authors trying to reach their audience. It started out as a marketing tool and turned into something so much more—we became book reviewers, a part of the blogging community, and bookstagrammers. It’s all so much fun and has seriously changed the way we view the book world! We can’t imagine not talking to fellow book lovers online, who have turned into real-life friends we’ve met in-person!

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

Definitely. Our mom helped us out a lot when it came to self-pubbing, since we were so young. We’ve learned a lot about the industry over the past few years and have gotten much more involved, so our parents see how much writing means to us and how we want to make a career out of it.

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

Hmmm … social media? As much as we love it, it’s so strange how being on Twitter and blogging can sometimes be a big time-suck. Sometimes we need to turn all that off and just write for the night. Preferably with music (sometimes without) or with the Food Network on in the background, muted.

0PVGm_YPSP: You both are big supporters of “We Need Diverse Books,” right? So what does this mean to you and how has it influenced you?

We love WNDB. We actually started thinking about writing our first book with an Indian main character right around when WNDB was starting, and we hadn’t known about it back then. Then, around the time we were writing the book, and then querying and pitching it, the community surrounding diverse books exploded, and hashtags like #ownvoices became so integral. We love organizations like We Need Diverse Books and want to support them as much as possible. It’s so important that kids, whether teens or younger, see themselves in books. We were teens not too long ago ourselves!

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

Sarena: If it’s cold outside, a nice hot chocolate. Otherwise, I need water to keep me hydrated! As for a fun fact, purple is my favourite colour because the main character in my fave book series as a kid (Amazing Days of Abby Hayes) loves purple.

Sasha: I love Goldfish. If I’m writing, I can eat a whole bag. They’re so good! A fun fact about me is that I have a pacemaker. I’ve lived with a heart condition my whole life, and because of it, my family and I started an online charity auction called Shop @ Your Own Pace on Facebook!

SP: So, let’s talk about The Pendant Trilogy. How did this idea come about? How was your journey publishing it?

The Pendant Trilogy first came about when we were thirteen. Sarena had just recently started reading The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong. On the cover, there’s a girl holding a ruby; Sarena began to think about what it’d be like if a gemstone held magical powers. And voila, the idea for The Gemstone was born! We wrote it from 2010-2011, and published it in May 2012. We decided to self-publish as teens, and have learned so much from the writing community and blogging community ever since! Publishing got the ball rolling for our Twitter and blog, and eventually, our bookstagram and all the books we’ve written since self-pubbing. The most exciting thing about having books is definitely talking to other kids about them when we do school visits or workshops!

SP: Any secrets on writing tips or habits, editing and publishing with our teen and adults writers?  

I don’t think we have any secret tips—just write! You don’t have to write every day (in fact, you might burn yourself out if you do!) but we find working in bursts of time, like during writing sprints with friends, helps us up our word count. So find your people, write, write, write, and you’ll get there! We promise!

SP: You are twin writers now. Do you always see yourselves writing together? Or will you one day write separately?

We always write our books together; it’s just something we’ve done since we co-wrote our first novel. Separately, we write short stories (for class or outside contests), a few of which we’ve gotten published in anthologies. But yes—we see ourselves continuing to write books together!

SP: Can you tell us one thing you learned from winning Pitchwars 2016/or other contests?

 Being a part of PitchWars was a dream. The community of writers we found from it was the biggest thing we gained: friends. People who want to do writing sprints, chat with us, support our writing even if they’ve never met us in real life. Those people are so important. And everyone we’ve ever met from other contests, like #DVPit, PitchSlam, etc—they are like our writer family, too! We’ve learned a lot about pitching and editing and all that, but I think the most important thing we gained from every contest we’ve been in is the relationships we formed with fellow writers.

SP: A little bird told me there is very good news in the works… Where can we follow you to hear your announcement? And where can we learn more about you and your books? 

Our website: sarenasashabooks.com and our blog: http://www.thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com. And you can always tweet us @PendantTrilogy! We love to hear from readers and writers. ❤

SP: Thanks again, ladies! We’re excited to have you on the SP.  We wish you all the success with more books, publishing, and adventures!

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Nova, signing off.

 

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.

 

 

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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

Author Interview: S.D. Grimm

Pen Friends, we are so excited to introduce you to debut YA author, S.D. Grimm! She’s someone you should definitely get to know (and her novel launches next week)! Plus, there’s a GIVEAWAY — check it out below.

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SP: Welcome, S.D.! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you started writing?

I write young adult sci-fi and fantasy because I love it. I started writing when I was in elementary school–second grade. It was a story about a lost sock. Only my lost sock was a living being who had been separated from his mother and siblings. Seven years ago I started writing with the hope of being published. And that book? Scarlet Moon.

SP: I know you were a Pitch Wars mentee (like our own Nova McBee is this year). What was the contest experience like? Would you recommend it for up and coming writers?

Pitch Wars was an awesome experience. I highly recommend it. Not only did I have a fabulous mentor, who taught me a lot, but I got my novel ready for pitching, and the edits my mentor suggested led to a polished novel that eventually helped me land my amazing agent. In addition to that, I have a community of friends who went through the same process, and they are so amazing. I would say that community of writers alone is invaluable.  Continue reading

Author Interview: Rebecca Sky

Pen Friends ~ Come meet author and wattpad sensation Rebecca Sky as she shares about her writing and some of her own life stories, (which are just as gripping as her fiction!)

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SP: Welcome Rebecca! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you started writing?

I’m the oldest of 5 kids, a wifey to a hot Canadian rock star, dog lover (I know writers are supposed to like cats, *whispers* cats scare me), I’m a red head (sadly this does define me), and I live on an island just off the coast of Seattle, Washington—because of this I tell people I’m a Pacific Islander.

My journey to writing is a long one, so I’ll give you the quickest version I can. When I was little I was fascinated with stories, my family was poor and we didn’t have TV or money to buy books so I’d hunt around the neighborhood and in parks and collect pop and beer cans to return to the grocery store for the $0.05 reward. I used that treasure at garage sales, buying every book I could find. My collection varied from manuals, to historical recounts of China, to Nancy Drew mysteries. When I wasn’t flipping through their pages, I was adorned in wild costumes and acting out scenes from plays I’d make up for my siblings. It was all a very “Little Women” lifestyle.

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Author Interview: Pintip Dunn

Pen Friends ~ We are so pleased to introduce you to NYT bestselling Young Adult Author, Pintip Dunn! This lady is unstoppable. Read below and find out why…and don’t forget the giveaway! Details below interview.

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SP: Welcome Pintip!

Thank you for having me! I’m so thrilled to be here!

SP: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you started writing?

Sure! I’m a lawyer-turned-mother-turned-writer. I graduated from Harvard, with an A.B. in English, and then received my J.D. from Yale Law School. I have three kids and live in Maryland right outside of D.C.

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Author Interview: Brenda Drake

Pen Friends, we are very excited to introduce Young Adult Author and Writing-Contest Guru, Brenda Drake! If you don’t know her yet, quick, get reading below!! 

*PS: There’s a giveaway. Check below for details.

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SP: Welcome Brenda!

Thank you for having me!

SP: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you started writing?

I grew up the youngest of three children and an Air Force brat, so I was always the new kid at school until my dad retired in Albuquerque when I was in middle school. I host contests such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on my blog, and hold Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. Unfortunately, I’m addicted to coffee and Goldfish crackers, but not together. Well, unless I’m eating the graham cracker or s’more’s ones. Continue reading

Author Interview: Karen McManus

 

Pen Friends, please welcome Karen McManus, a very anticipated YA debut and Author of One of Us is Lying. 

SP: Hi Karen! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you started writing?

I was one of those kids who started writing early. I was in second grade when I wrote my first book, and I wrote dozens more throughout elementary school. But when I reached high school and tried to write longer, more complicated books, I faltered. I was convinced I didn’t have what it took to finish a novel, so I started the college-career-family trajectory and let my interest in writing slide.

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