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?
Do you have social media? What’s your favorite platform? Instagram? Twitter?Facebook? TikTok? Snapchat? Other? How do you balance your time between social media and writing time? Is it possible to do both well? I think the answer is yes.
For this article, I’m going to focus on Instagram or my Bookstagram, as I call my account. This means it’s an Instagram that focuses on books. It is one of the highlights of my day meeting other readers, writers, and authors. The people on Instagram remind me that I’m not the only one that struggles with mental health or is in the query trenches. It’s a great way to make connections. Instagram is a lot of fun, but it can take a lot of time.
As someone who was reading books entirely too old for me at an age when most of my peers were still thumbing through chapter books, I’ve always loved when I flipped a page to see a map, illustrated chapter head, or even a full illustration hidden in pages of text. As an artist and life-long book geek, imagery in stories has remained important to me as I grew up. I think that’s why, when I got to a point where most of the books I was reading no longer boasted any art past the cover, I found myself going back to world or city maps placed at the front of fantasy books over and over.
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.
In literature, the Reclusive Hero is someone who tends to work in the shadows. They know what needs to be done and have a clear idea in their mind of what they need to do, but they prefer to keep their abilities hidden or—at bare minimum—avoid the spotlight. Once their work is completed, they’ll often slip back into the shadows until forced to emerge once again.
Two of my favorite Reclusive Heroes are Sherlock Holmes (who became a legend only because of the masterful storytelling of Watson) and James Scott Bell’s Mike Romeo. Both characters are well-read in matters that interest them, adept at problem solving, and quite comfortable spending the bulk of their time lost in their own thoughts. Unfortunately both have a low tolerance for spending any amount of time around groups of people, as they often find social activities to be rather draining on the nerves.
In literature, the Romantic Hero is an eternal optimist. They somehow know how to turn even the most desperate of situations into an opportunity and—to the outsider at least—may appear to rebound quickly from setbacks. In truth they keenly feel every bump and bruise. They just stubbornly choose to believe that the heartache is worthwhile, that each obstacle and roadblock is temporary, and that their eventual victory will be all the sweeter for all the tears.
Cress and Winter from The Lunar Chronicles are two of my favorite examples of romantic heroes. I love the way that Marissa Meyers took two fairy tales about damsels in distress and transformed them into examples of women of substance. Despite the cruel abuses they suffered at the hands of a wicked Queen, they still held onto their hope of seeing a better world for their people. They didn’t just work within the system they lived, they found ways around it—not to benefit themselves in the short-term, but to benefit others in the long-run.
“[The queen’s] words carried too much weight, but Winter didn’t try to decipher them. She was busy nudging at the girl with her toe, gesturing for her to get into the crate.“
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?
From Young-Adult author Nova McBee comes the second book in the action-filled Calculated series, SIMULATED. Look for it May 13th!
CONGRATS Nova! Spinning Pen founder, fierce supporter of new writers, Pitch Wars 2020 mentor, and an expert champion and bridge builder between existing authors, it is now Nova’s turn to be supported and loved on by our community!
Set in Tunisia and Seattle, Simulated follows teen genius Jo Rivers as she teams up with a new band of prodigies to retrieve a dangerous file stolen by a mysterious hacker who knows far too much about her past.
I’ve been writing and telling stories in some form or other for most of my life. Like most, it began with my make-believes as a child. And then it slowly grew from there. But it wasn’t until I was midway through my junior year of college I began to realize that we don’t all have to grow up to become doctors and astronauts and future presidents. We could also grow up to write (and publish) stories of our own.
That realization came to me 19-years ago. Since then I’ve published a few short stories and several articles, and I’ve gone on to build a small freelance editing career working with both fiction and nonfiction writers that I love. But my own writing journey hasn’t been the smooth path I’d first envisioned it might be. It’s been filled with twists, turns, dead-ends, and obstacles that have often left me feeling lost and ready to give up
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.