Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author and Podcast Host Laura Juntunen talking about her new post-apocalyptic, sci-fi series, THE SHOCKWAVE; publishing journey; fabulous podcast, Read It With Whiskey; and so much more! I’m so excited to introduce you to Laura!
SP: Hi Laura! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey?
SP: Hi Brianna! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to hear a bit about you and your writing journey!
BT: Thank you for having me! My writing journey feels like a voyage I’ve been on my entire life. I’ve always loved stories, and I have several old notebooks filled with my early attempts at novel writing. While they’re highly entertaining, the partial novels I wrote in elementary and middle school aren’t likely to ever see the light of day. I started treating being an author as a career in 2015, after finishing my degree and getting a few years of work experience under my belt. Going to conferences, networking, learning from my peers, and steadily writing that entire time resulted in a lot of growth for me, and definitely led to all my successes so far!
SP: Word on the street is you just signed your first book deal! Wahoo and congrats! How does that feel? What was your response? Crying, sitting in shock, partying all night, or…?
BT: Yes, thank you! I’ve signed a book contract once before, for a children’s novel called The Knight in Battered Armor (released in 2019). This new contract is for my first ever full-length novel though, so it definitely feels like something big, new, and exciting! Because of an email I’d already been sent the week prior to the offer, I knew that a decision was coming soon, and I was on pins and needles, constantly refreshing my inbox. I was hoping for an offer, but didn’t know for sure what to expect.
SP: Hi Meg! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey! Sure! I started getting serious about writing back in 2014. By 2016, I was attending some writing conferences and had even finished a YA sci-fi book which I pitched to a few agents but didn’t get far with it. A few manuscripts/years later, I applied to Pitch Wars in a different genre, adult mystery, and got chosen by Kellye Garrett and Mia P. Manansala to be their mentee. Even though I worked really hard on that story, it didn’t go far in the query trenches. But while I was lamenting through query rejections, I started drafting a wild story about a girl and a wolf and a sled race! And that was the book that my agent’s grabbed out of their slush pile and is also about to become my debut at Wednesday Books.
SP: Hey MJ! So excited to have you on the Spinning Pen! Before we get started, we want to hear about YOU and your writing journey! What made you want to write and what’s a fun fact you don’t mind sharing?
I loved writing ever since I was a kid. It was a way for me to escape and be creative. I loved reading stories, writing my own version of them when I was done reading (I guess that’s early fanfic?) I also liked to write little serial stories starring my friends and then pass them out every week for them to read. By middle school I was writing fantasy novels by hand but when I got to high school I had to focus on getting a “real job”. Two degrees, a soul-sucking job, and a two kids later I returned to my love of writing, deciding to make a career out of it.
Fun fact: My first published novel was in the 3rd grade. Our teacher had us write and illustrate our own stories. Then she bound them and put them in the school library for the everyone to check out. I still have that book to this day!
SP: Hey Kristy! So glad to have you here on the Spinning Pen. 😊 Before we get started, we want to hear about YOU and your writing journey! What made you want to write and what’s a fun fact you don’t mind sharing?
Ciao— (to say Hello from working on my current novel, set in WW2 Rome. . .) Thanks for inviting me to stop by!
Is it okay to say that becoming an author wasn’t on my radar? While that was a dream job I’d never considered chasing at the time, I DID love visual storytelling in childhood and still do.
When we were young, our mom took my sister and me to the library every week in the summers. I have vivid memories of sitting on the floor in the book aisles, thumbing through thick volumes of Disney animation and art history books. That was when I truly fell in love with stories. But not being gifted in art enough to paint or sculpt or draw as a profession. . . I thought that meant I couldn’t create. It wasn’t until I went to school for art history that I realized a storyteller can (and does!) paint, but we do it with words.
SP: Hey John! So glad to have you here on the Spinning Pen! Not only are you Medium famous but your slogans for a certain unnamed major tech company, are literally everywhere. Can you get me an autographed version of one of those airport billboards, because that would be great! Ok, putting on my semi serious hat…let’s talk about YOU and WRITING!
SP:You crank out a plethora of witty articles on Medium, have 52K followers, and an incredibly active fan base who regularly engage with your writing. How did you build this mighty empire??
JG: So, I kinda built it on accident. I wrote most of my pieces between 2014 and 2017 for an audience of no one. I jotted them down on Medium just to get them out of my own head, and if people read them (narrator: they didn’t), then all the better. Late in 2017, I had a story go viral and so I started 2018 by re-releasing my entire back-catalog of essays in the first 100 days. That put me over the “top”—to the extent that Medium semi-fame is “top”—and now here we are.
SP: People talk a lot about the importance of voice and finding it. It’s like the newest click-bait for authors. You, however, have a truly raw and authentic voice that’s refreshing. What has your journey been on the path to finding your voice? Or was it ever lost to begin with?
SP: Hey Isabel! So excited to have you on the Spinning Pen! Before we get started, we want to hear about YOU and your writing journey! What made you want to write and what’s a fun fact you don’t mind sharing?
Hello! I am so excited to chat with you. So I have always been a huge reader and loved telling stories, and I started writing down my tales as soon as I learned to write! I truly feel that writing is just a part of me—I constantly have stories and characters and dialogue in my head— and it was my dream from a very early age to be an author. Fun fact— both my parents are authors, too! My mom is a mystery author and my dad writes academic books, so I grew up understanding that being an “author” was an actual job I could work towards.
Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author Lani Forbes talking about her beautiful novel, THE JADE BONES, publishing journey, writing dreams, and so much more! I’m so excited to introduce you to Lani, her words are gold you guys!
SP: Hi Lani! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey.
Absolutely! Thank you so much for having me! I am the daughter of a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer (which explains my passionate love of the ocean and books). A former teacher turned trauma counselor, my passion is showing readers the transformative and encouraging power of story on the human experience. A California native whose parents live in Mexico, I now reside in the Pacific Northwest where I stubbornly wear flip flops no matter how cold it gets. I am a proud nerd, Gryffindor, and member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author Victoria McCombs talking about her new novel, WOODS OF SILVER AND LIGHT, publishing journey, writing dreams, and so much more! I’m thrilled to have Victoria here with us today.
SP: Hi Victoria! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey!
My writing journey has been an adventure! My dad is an author, so he would read over my stories growing up and always told me they were good. Looking back, I’m grateful he didn’t point out all their flaws. But somehow along the way I grew in my craft until my debut released last year! Now I have two books published and three more going through edits with publishers to prepare for the world!
SP: WOODS OF SILVER AND LIGHT just released this February 2021 by Parliament House Press, it’s the second book in the Storyteller’s Series. Please add on Goodreads and check out her other books! Here’s the blurb:
Ronin’s son is dead, and Maid Marion is gone.
But a sorceress banished to the Woods can bring his son back if he and his Silver Raiders are willing to do something for her first.
Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author Haylie Hanson talking about her upcoming novel, WORLD DIVER, writing dreams, nerdom and so much more! I’m so excited to have Haylie here with us today. She’s a GEM! Haylie welcomes readers not only into adventure but a fun, free space to be themselves.
SP: Hi Haylie! Thanks for joining us. Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey!
Hi, Pen Friends! I’m so stoked to be here! I have been writing and creating since I was a teenager, mostly speculative fiction novels and some poetry/songwriting. Writing and reading have always been a passion of mine–I love getting to know all kinds of unique and fascinating characters and worlds, and making new literary friends (and book crushes, let’s be real). I started writing for publication in 2018, and after a few (okay, MANY) bumps in the road, I landed my first book deal for the Luminaut Trilogy! Aside from writing, I am a California girl, mom to two littles, a major foodie, geek-culture aficionado, and a former special education teacher. I’ve also had the opportunity to live and travel all kinds of different places because of my husband’s line of work. My favorite destinations are Kyoto, Bali, Seoul, and Tokyo!