Pen Friends ~ Our author interview today is with Jennieke Cohen, (who I met through the 2016 PitchWars gang.) Not only does she share about her debut, Dangerous Alliance, (which you can pre-order!) but about perseverance, Jane Austen, favorite books, fictional crushes, publishing, and more. Enjoy.
SP: Hi Jennieke! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and how long have you have been writing?
JC: Thanks so much for having me! Even as a child, I liked telling stories and acting them out, and by high school, I thought I wanted to work in the film industry. I wrote my first screenplay—a dark, suspense story about a serial killer—in high school and even made it into a movie for one of my classes. After college, I started my first novel, which would later become Dangerous Alliance. Having ruled out working in the film business, I decided to intern with a literary agent (I later got promoted to her assistant), and then at Prima Games (then an imprint of Random House) while I pursued a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Nowadays, in my spare time, you’ll find me re-watching and over-analyzing old movies (a hard habit to break!), singing opera arias and show tunes, or discovering new foodie spots with my husband.
SP: Your debut, Dangerous Alliance, will come out December 3rd, 2019.
Here is the blurb:
Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home. But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.
Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility. Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.
SP: Can you tell us a bit more about how this idea came about?
JC: This may sound somewhat cliché, but when I was twelve, I read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and they had a much bigger impact on me than I could have guessed. I was expecting them to be dry and boring because they were “classics,” but the witty intelligence Jane Austen brought to her novels spoke to me in a way not many of the other books I’d read had. And I simply loved the romance and mystery elements of Jane Eyre. I found myself looking for all the historical novels I could find. That led to reading a lot of adult fiction and nonfiction because, at the time, there were very few European-set historical novels written specifically for teens and young adults. With Dangerous Alliance, I wanted to create the kind of novel I would have really enjoyed reading as a teen. Continue reading
As we know, a good first line of a book (and chapter) can do much more than just begin the story. It grabs our attention, sets the tone, reveals something to come, lets us taste the narrative & voice, gives the first impression, and can be locked into our memory for years to come IF it is done well.
Look at the 7 approaches below and study them. (FYI: Thanks to Lorie Langdon for sharing these with us!)
I’ve also added links to some of the most popular first lines in YA Literature. Compare, enjoy, and then mentally put them into their correct categories. Then look at your own first lines. Where does it fit? Practice rewriting your first sentence. And if you are so bold, share it in the comments!
- A statement of eternal principle
– Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
– Paper Towns by John Green: “The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.”
- A statement that conveys the narrative
– Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa: “I had a farm in Africa.”
– Stardust by Neil Gaiman: “There once was a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.”
– Stephen King’s 11/22/63: “I have never been what you’d call a crying man.”
– The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway: “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish..”
- Start mid-action
– Lorie’s current WIP:“A brisk gale whipped the sea into peaks that pitched the Skylark around like a leaf in a flooded stream.”
– The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.”
- A statement of paired facts
– Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:“Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.”
– A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
- 6. Statement laced with significance and/or conflict
– Heather Webb’s Becoming Josephine: “The missive arrived in the night.”
- DOON by Corp and Langdon:“I skidded to a halt in the crowded corridor, totally unprepared for a showdown with the evil witch of Bainbridge High.”
- 7. Start with setting that evokes emotion, establishes mood, or raises questions
-A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas:“The forest had become a labyrinth of snow and ice.”
-Maria V. Snyer’s Poison Study: “Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories.”
Nova, signing off!
Pen Friends ~ Today’s interview is with YA Author, Lauren Mansy, talking about her debut, The Memory Thief. From what we have heard it has incredible world building and an intriguing premise! You can still pre-order it and it will arrive on your door on when it releases on October 1st!
SP: Hi Lauren! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, could you share a bit about you and your writing journey?
LM: Thank you so much for having me, Nova!
I’m from the western suburbs of Chicago, where work alongside my parents in our family business. In my free time, I love grabbing coffee with friends, staying active outdoors, and traveling – I have two nephews in California, so I’ll use any excuse to spend time with them! 🙂
My writing journey first began the summer after my college graduation. I’d hoped to go into children’s publishing, but my senior year, I’d been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, a form of lymphatic cancer. I’m so thankful to say that I’ve now been cancer-free for seven years, but that was a very difficult time for me. After completing my treatments, I wasn’t healthy enough to find a job, so my parents suggested I do something creative to help in my healing process. For some reason, all I could think about was writing a book. And once I started writing, I found that I never wanted to stop! Writing fiction helped me express myself in ways that I’d never done before and helped me process through some of my most difficult memories. I’ll be forever grateful for that! Continue reading
Hi Pen Friends~ Ready for another YA author interview? Today’s guest is the ever-talented Elizabeth Lim, author of SPIN THE DAWN. Check out that cover below. A beauty, huh? And the words inside it have been spun wonderfully too. Now, on to the good stuff!
SP: Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for joining us! Spin the Dawn, came out in July and is getting A LOT of positive attention. People are enamored. And much deserved, I’d say.
Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of 12 tailors vying for the job.
Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.
SP: The blurb line “the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars” pretty much sold me on the book 🙂 Can you tell us a bit more about how this idea came about?
EL: The idea behind the dress is inspired by a French fairytale called Donkeyskin, in which a princess asks her father for dresses of the sun, moon, and sky. But there wasn’t ever really much description about the dresses aside from that, and having a background in music, I really wanted to evoke a poetic image whenever I described Amana’s dresses, and also evoke the legend and mythology behind them that I created for the world of Spin the Dawn.
SP: Can you tell us a bit about using Chinese culture in Spin the Dawn’s world & story building?
EL: Spin the Dawn’s world is inspired by Asia during the Silk Road Era, though most of the book takes place in A’landi, which is loosely inspired by China. Maia’s relationship to her family, her respect for her ancestors, her superstitions and fear of demons, for example, are some of the more obvious nods to Chinese culture. But I also wove in references to a few of my favorite Chinese legends, like Chang’e and Houyi and the Cowherd and the Weaver. Continue reading
Behind the scenes in my author circles there’s been an ongoing discussion:
Do I choose to have an ALIAS or not?
What are the pros and cons of a PEN NAME?
So, I asked a group of authors to give me their opinions on pen names. Here are their responses.
“I like that pen names give authors more chances to write in different genres and connect with readers who have a variety of interests. It’s also always fun when you find out an author you love has another pen name for you to check out!” Continue reading
Thanks for coming back to read “Marketing Tips Part Two!” (Find part one on Social Media here if you haven’t read it yet!)
The tips I have below have come from different authors I’ve met, or agents who gave certain advice, or just research itself. Hope they help!
What the Pros have done:
One night I went to an event to listen to an indie author talk about marketing. She is a cozy mystery writer, who was determined to be such a good author that Amazon would knock on her door and make her an offer. And they did. Did that get your attention?
What she told the audience about marketing was very gripping.
Her first story recounted the author of the DaVinci Code. Dan Brown and his publicist decided to take a risk and send copies of his book to over 300 major newspaper-book reviewers. Well, the risky strategy paid off! It was reviewed and he became a best-seller overnight! Continue reading
In 200 words or less, what scene do those two words bring to your mind?
Then POST your prompt in the comments!
I wake to small warm drops on my face. A splash on my eyelids has me wiping away what feels like a tear. But tears were for yesterday. Today is for survival. My eyes crack open to a brilliant rainbow light coming thru the mist. I squint and try to remember what exactly happened last night.
My arms push my body up. That is when I notice the bruise on my leg. Dang it. So it is true. I’m marooned. On an island. Alone. In the middle of nowhere. And all because of one little lie.
There’s a rustle in the palms and a rhythm that sounds like footsteps. With great pain, I bend my leg and scoot behind a large bush doubtful it can hide me. Whatever it is, its getting closer. Maybe I’m not alone after all.
Thunder rumbled in the distance as I ran across the field. The clouds rolled over head as I ran faster. I always loved to race the rain. The thunder was like our gunshot letting me know the race had begun; the long grass brushed against my legs as I barreled past. My calloused feet pounding on the dry I earth. I could hear the rain coming fast from behind me, a loud, overwhelming whooshing sound, that seemed to come from everywhere and meant no escape. l saw my small home in the distance and laughed to myself.
“The rain always won,” I thought as it finally caught up to me, instantly drenching me. Slipping in the fresh mud I fell onto the ground and laughed again.
Author: Stephanie Garber
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name. Continue reading
Author: Stephanie Garber
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over. Continue reading