IAM Guest Post…What Do Teens Look For in a Book?

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Reading is a central part to so many people’s lives. The gift of reading has positively impacted everyone who has learned to enjoy and value this marvelous treasure. I know from personal experience that books offer a refuge from the cares of the world. I have also discovered that books nourish the imagination and help dreams to flourish.

When I asked my American Literature professor, who used to teach elementary school, if he noticed any difference between students who read for fun and students who did not, he immediately replied that he noticed a very great difference. He said that children who could sit down with a book and read for hours at a time were generally more disciplined than those who never made themselves finish one. He also said that students who read are better at concentrating in school. In short, reading improves students’ abilities in school.

But what about the benefits that appeal to a person’s sense of enjoyment – such as, can reading be fun? Since my books are aimed mostly at preteens and early teens, I sent a three-question survey to a fifth grade class to see what they thought of reading. Most of these children are ten to eleven years old. I also sent the same survey to two college friends of mine who both plan to teach English when they graduate.

On the survey, I first asked them to name the three most important things they look for in a good book. Few of the fifth graders could contain their answer to merely three things; most of them mentioned four or five elements. One young lady said that she preferred the kind of books that are so intense they cannot be put down and have to be finished in one day. Another young lady agreed with her that a good book “makes you not want to stop reading.”

Some listed elements they looked for in the content of the book, and to no surprise of mine, action and adventure were the most popular. One girl listed six items she enjoyed in a book, and four of them were connected to battles. A young man agreed that fighting and action make a book exciting. A second young man also had a list of elements that made a good story, with action and adventure topping the list.

The college students who answered this question were more critical, but their answers were a little more varied. One focused almost entirely on the story, saying the narrative had to be creative, comprehensible, and thought-provoking. The other required good mechanics, “because bad mechanics are distracting.”

My second question asked them to remember a book they had read that had a particular impact on their life. I was amazed that so many of the fifth graders could recall the first book they read that made reading enjoyable. One young man mentioned reading The Boxcar Children in school and finding an entire series that he wanted to read. A young lady mentioned a series that convinced her to read more because it contained humor and action; another girl mentioned Go, Dogs, Go, which she read many times. Another gentleman remembered the first book he ever read – about a hedgehog and a swimming pool. Someone else mentioned reading Treasure Island. That was amazing to me, because I did not read Treasure Island until I was a freshman in high school – but then, maybe I was a unique case.

Others name books that taught them values. One girl described a book that taught her never to give up on her dreams. Someone else recalled a book that taught about love and self-control. Some others enjoy a more technical education from books. A young man said he liked nonfiction books regarding animals, because then he learns new things. Still others enjoyed books about action and adventure. One mentioned the Magic Tree House series, while someone else values fantasy books in general.

Another common answer – which I can most easily relate too – were those who mentioned books that swept them away to other worlds. One girl named the series The 39 Clues, saying it took her around the world by making her imagination “go wild.” A young man mentioned Shark Wars, which takes him into the ocean. In my experience, I always find that books that create their own world are the most fun to read.

The two college students told me about books that helped them understand stories better. One said that while there were many books dear to her, The Silmarillion showed her how to appreciate the effort that goes into writing. The other mentioned a book called Orcs, by Stan Nicholls, that showed him how important the perspective is to the story.

My third question asked how life might be different without books. The answers were generally curt, to the point, and horrified, from both the college students and the fifth graders. Several fifth graders mentioned a lack of learning, and how spelling and grammar would be so much harder. One girl said life would be harder because “you would be wrecking your brains by watching T.V. All day.” Several others mentioned not knowing what to do for free time. A young man claimed there would be no interest in anything without books. A young lady said life would have no meaning and there could be no happiness without books. Another girl said if there were no books, “I would have invented books so I could read them.”

For the college students, these questions had the longest answers. One could not imagine life without reading. She supposed life would be fairly normal but completely different; she also supposed that a lack of books might make her less thoughtful and more superficial. The other said he would be bored and “Plane rides would be unbearable.” He also mentioned that he would not have the insights into other people that he gained through reading. In my own experience, I know that reading expanded my world, and it absolutely increased my understanding of people. Characters in books often reveal thoughts, emotions, and fears that people in real life never let show.

I also know that without books, I could never do what I love best, which is write stories. Another fifth grader agreed with me when she said “If there were no books in my life … I would never have a dream about being an author.” I and thousands of other authors are completely beholden to books, but we aren’t the only ones. Out of all the fifth graders who answered my survey, only one expressed a wish to become an author. I also noticed that none of them had anything bad to say about the impact of books in their lives. Books are a wonderful, positive influence on everyone – not just authors.

My Photo

Marta Stahfeld is nineteen and going to college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. She hopes to be a teacher one day. Aside from college, where she is working on a History/Literature double major, she is writing book three in the Darkwoods series, as well as a series of short stories about the characters from the series.

Blog: http://martastahlfeld.blogspot.com/

Website: http://www.darkwoodsbooks.com/index.html

Darkwoods_Front_Cover

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IAM Interview…with author David Normoyle

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Guest Feature

David Normoyle is today’s featured author – and he’s bravely faced our first ever ‘This or That’ interview – want to know more? Then read on! 🙂 

David was born in Australia, but moved to Ireland at an early age. The early globe crossing must have gone to his head, as he has since backpacked through and lived in numerous countries. He grew up on a farm as the eldest of nine unruly siblings, but since his escape, he prefers city living. His electronic engineering degree is currently gathering dust while he tries new and strange pursuits such as novel writing.

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davidjnormoylePirates or Zombies?

I’m gonna go for pirates here. Never had much love for zombies or zombie movies. Didn’t have much of an opinion on pirates until the inimitable Captain Jack Sparrow came along. He elevated pirates to a whole new level.

Hero or Villain?

I’m going to cheat a little on this question and choose the dividing line between hero and villain. Some of my favorite characters are those who skate that dividing line. Great examples include Tony Soprano, Al Swearengen from Deadwood, Vick Mackey from The Shield, Michael Corleone from The Godfather movies. And practically the whole cast of Game of Thrones.

Good Book or Good Film?

Although I quoted mainly TV characters above, books are always my first love. I like to read a book before watching a movie, better to for the book knowledge to spoil the movie than vice versa. I have a small select list of cases where the film is better than the book (including The Godfather, Schlinder’s List and Silence of the Lambs) but they are the exception that prove the rule.

 Beach or Backpack?

Backpack all the way. I get bored on beaches rather quickly and I have had some great times backpacking. You are always meeting new people and exploring wonderful places.

James Bond or Jason Bourne?

I like Bond and all, but Bourne is the winner here. Bond is a one note character in many ways, where as Bourne is much more interesting while being just as much as a bad ass. Plus I fell in love with Bourne via the books, whereas I’ve just seen Bond on the screen (see Book or Film section.)

 Twilight or The Hunger Games?

Ok, this is the easiest question of the lot. I’m a big Hunger Games fan. The concept for my novel drew inspiration from Hunger Games among other sources. On the other hand, the internet seems to love making jokes about Twilight, and I laugh at those jokes (does that make me a bad person?) So yeah, Hunger Games in a landslide.

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The_Narrowing_Path  

  Only the strongest, smartest and most ruthless will survive.

Every six years, the world draws nearer to the sun. In Arcandis, those who want to live must claim the limited places in the Refuge, a series of underground caverns cooled by the sea.

The teenage boys of noble birth are sent out into the city to demonstrate their wits and strength. Some prove themselves in combat, others display their empire building skills, still others attempt to kill off their rivals. Out of over a hundred, only six will be selected by the leaders of the great families and allowed a place in the Refuge. The rest will perish, one way or another.

Not only is thirteen-year-old Bowe younger and weaker than most of the other boys, he has no family to support him. He is expected to die on the very first day of the narrowing path. Instead he begins a journey no one could have anticipated.

IAM Book of the Day…Sweet Glory by Lisa Potocar

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Guest Feature

This morning Lisa Y. Potocar, author of Sweet Glory, told us why she writes YA. In our second feature today you can find out more about her novel…

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Reluctant to shed her riding trousers and fully submerse herself in her role as a growing woman, Jana Brady joins the Union army in the fight for her country. Hoping for Sweet Glory, she cuts her hair and disguises herself as a young cavalryman, eager to fight the Rebels, aided by Leanne Perham, another girl from town who has donned the Union blues. Disguised as Johnnie and Leander, Jana and Leanne form a close connection with other misfits in their unit, twelve-year-old Charlie, who’s hidden his age to provide for his ma, and Irishman Keeley, who inspires men to abandon their inner conflicts and band together. Jana comes to greatly admire Keeley, who frequently needles Johnnie about the occasional appearance of feminine attributes.

While Jana enjoys the camaraderie within her unit, soldiering and nursing severely test her notions of glory in war. And the possibility of dying as a man hits home when she witnesses a man and his disguised bride die hand in hand on the battlefield. Jana determines to find a way home, with the blossoming incentive of renewing a relationship with Keeley once she is again living as a woman. But this possibility seems even more unlikely when Keeley is captured and Jana is hit by a bullet. Will she be able to rescue him from the Confederates’ clutches? And will Keeley love her for her true self? Lisa Potocar masterfully interweaves a moving love story with a sweeping portrayal of the heartache of the Civil War and the courage of key figures in history.

Cover - Sweet Glory

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

http://www.lisapotocar.tateauthor.com (Website)

http://www.facebook.com/LisaPotocarAuthor (Facebook)

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5779385.Lisa_Potocar (Goodreads Author)

http://amzn.to/THkzMp (Sweet Glory on Amazon)

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13454119-sweet-glory (Sweet Glory on Goodreads)

IAM Guest Post…Why I Write YA

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Guest Feature

Today’s guest post about why she writes YA is by Lisa Y. Potocar, author of Sweet Glory. In our second feature today you can find out more about her novel, but for now, let’s find out why Lisa writes YA 🙂

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First, I’d like to thank Melanie, Stephanie, Tony, and Jade for hosting me on their “Aside From Writing” Blog today. I’m thrilled to be here, and I hope that you’ll be entertained by my story: How I came to write for young adults. Also, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve copied my entire “Author’s Note” from Sweet Glory, which perfectly explains why I targeted young adults for my audience. Happy reading…..

Dear Reader,

 hate history!

 Now that I have your attention … I’ll tell you that I actually love history, but I didn’t always. So what made me want to go digging up facts to weave around fiction—especially for a debut novel—when I could have easily plugged my primary protagonist and her plot into a more familiar setting? And why target young adults for my story’s readership?

 I was in my early thirties when my mother coaxed me into touring some of Newport, Rhode Island’s historical homes. At the time, my career in health care was often stressful due to a rapidly changing atmosphere and incessant backlogs; any getaway was a welcome diversion. While at the Hunter House, the melodic voice of the tour guide, dressed in colonial costume, lulled me back to a moonless night during the Revolutionary War. In this Georgian-style mansion, overlooking the harbor, I pictured Admiral de Ternay, commander of the French fleet, seated on a rose floral sofa in a parlor paneled with pine board grained to imitate rosewood. Under the glow of candles, resting in pewter holders crafted by local artisans, he is discussing with his staff strategy for defeating the British navy in support of America’s colonial forces. As I imagined the admiral unrolling a map to show the offensive position of British ships along the coast, I was rudely seized from my trance by the tour guide’s demand to proceed to the dining room.

Bam! It struck me then that my apathy for history was rooted in the dull, lifeless presentations of it all through my schooling (no offense intended to my educators; I respect that they had a ton to impart in a short time). Viewed in this vivid, more personal way, some of the same, long-forgotten facts and figures, which had been crammed into my head in the classroom, suddenly sprang to life. I developed a new appreciation—indeed lust—for history! And I was determined to learn more. The very day I returned home, I became an ardent reader of historical fiction with lots of adventure. Amongst my favorites: the Kent Family Chronicles and North and South Trilogy by John Jakes, master weaver of history around complex plots and subplots. Through his colorful descriptions, I absorbed much about the times and the people. The bigger pattern sewed by our country from its beginning to the present became neatly ordered and clear to me. I suddenly found myself gravitating toward nonfiction, diving for greater pearls of wisdom where historical fiction teased. Wow! I became eager to nurture our young adults down the same footpath. If I had been armed with the potent knowledge of how the past shapes our future, I most definitely would have taken an active interest in my country and its politics long before I hit my thirties.

Researching for historical fiction is just as much fun as reading it; fascinating things turn up everywhere. What seed actually sprouted my story? While reading about Civil-War curiosities, including places haunted by ghosts, I discovered that around three hundred known women, both Yankee and Rebel, disguised themselves as soldiers to fight for their country, and thousands more reinvented themselves in other ways, such as nurses and spies. There is enough documentation for this era to sink an armada of ships, but scant about these pioneers. Besides the more famous cast (Nurses Dorothea Dix and Clara Barton, Doctor Mary Walker, and Union Spy Elizabeth Van Lew), one female kept reaching out to me from the graveyard of records: Sarah Edmonds, alias Frank Thompson. She trimmed her tresses, enlisted in the infantry, and set off on a journey to play soldier, nurse, and spy. Aha! My primary protagonist was born: the bold, adventurous, sixteen-year-old tomboy Jana Brady who seeks to create a new meaning of what a woman can do during the tumultuous years of the Civil War.

I shall stop here with trying to convince you of the merits in knowing history, especially as belongs to your country. But I challenge you to visit your nearest historical site and see what ghosts come out to play with you. I’ll bet you say you had fun!

 

Warm regards,

 Lisa Y. Potocar

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Lisa Potocar   I’d like to sum up by adding that in creating Sweet Glory, I discovered my niche in writing historical fiction and a home in the young-adult audience, which I feel my writing style most aptly suits. However, I had hoped that Sweet Glory would garner crossover into the adult market, and I’m thrilled to report that it has. About 90% of my readership is adults  (who I hope are excited enough by my story to pass the word of it along to their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc.—Laugh Out Loud).

If you’re interested, check out the great reviews Sweet Glory received from the International Historical Novel Society & HistoricalNovelReviewBlogspot.com on my website at: http://lisapotocar.tateauthor.com/what-they-are-saying/. They further support why I write for young adults.

Again, I’d like to thank “Aside from Writing” for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to share my writing journey with you. I had a blast and I hope you did too!

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

http://www.lisapotocar.tateauthor.com (Website)

http://www.facebook.com/LisaPotocarAuthor (Facebook)

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5779385.Lisa_Potocar (Goodreads Author)

http://amzn.to/THkzMp (Sweet Glory on Amazon)

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13454119-sweet-glory (Sweet Glory on Goodreads)

IAM Book of the Day…Eight Mile Island

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our featured author today is blog regular Tony Talbot – take a look at his latest fantastic YA novel: Eight Mile Island…

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About the Author: Tony Talbot was born in the 1970s and started writing in 2008 after a dream he had and couldn’t shake. Eight Mile Island is his fourth book. Tony regularly contributes to the Aside from Writing blog and so look out for future features and posts from this great author.

Welcome to Eight Mile Island. 

Dylan James is used to boarding schools. He’s been thrown out of so many in the past two years, he’s lost count. So when an elite academy in Oregon offers him a place, he doesn’t think he’ll be there more than a week.
 But Eight Mile Island isn’t like anywhere Dylan has been before. In the dense forests around the school, there are things that look human but aren’t.
Things that are hungry, and waiting.
But that’s just the start of the mysteries, mysteries that mean Dylan may never escape. Even if he wants to…

 

 

Want to know more? Check out the links!

Website: http://www.tony-talbot.co.uk

Twitter: @authortony

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonytalbotwriter

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/tony-talbot

 

IAM Excerpt…Divine

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

This morning you heard all about Bites, Ninfa Hayes’ novel featuring two fantastic short stories. Here we have a sneak peek excerpt from the forthcoming Divine by Ninfa and Misty Price. Enjoy!

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– The dream starts as it always does.

I’m two years old and I’m holding a baby in my arms.

I don’t know who it is, but I know I’m happy and that I feel important, but where the dream usually leaves me alone as the baby is taken away from me, this time it’s different.

Suddenly I’m not two anymore, and there are no babies.  In front of me it’s a mirror, and in the mirror a girl about my age staring back at me.

Where my hair is black as night, hers is as blonde as spun gold, but our olive skin complexion and our strange grey eyes are the same.  If it wasn’t for the blonde hair I would think it my own reflection such is the staggering resemblance between us.

‘Who are you?’ I want to ask, but before I can utter the words the mirror shatters and I’m covered in blood, mine or hers I can’t tell but it’s everywhere, and so are the ghosts and the corpses in different stages of decomposition.  The girl is gone.

I want to run, but there are just too many of them, reaching out to me, pulling, pushing, grabbing.  I fight them with all I have, but to no avail.

‘It must be a dream,’ I keep chanting in my head, ‘wake up Callie, wake up!’

Only when I open my eyes the ghosts are still there, crowding around my bed, spilling out of my bedroom door like a macabre parade.

I scream, wishing them away with all I have inside me.

Hands grab me and I try to fight them away, desperate.

“Callie! Sweetheart is me!”

Through the fog of fear I recognize my mum’s voice and I surrender to her arms sobbing.

“Baby what is it? Talk to me” she tells me in soothing tones.

I inhale deeply, letting her vanilla and cinnamon scent wash over my nerves and calm me down.

“Just a dream” I manage to whisper.

She nods, brushing strands of hair away from my face “I see…” she says, a tired smile on her lips “…well, just try and relax sweetheart, it’s a special day tomorrow and you need your beauty sleep” she winks at me.

I nod and pull my fluffy duvet back onto the bed from the floor, where I’ve probably kicked it during the nightmare.

“Do you need anything?” mum asks, stopping by the door and looking at me with far more concern than I would expect.

I shake my head “No…no I’m good, just another stupid nightmare.  I don’t even remember it anymore…”

She just stares at me intensely for a moment, as if she wants to say more, as if she knows I’m lying, but in the end decides against it and just leaves, after giving me another smile “All right then, I’ll  wake you up for breakfast baby.”

With that she leaves and I’m left in my room alone and still a little terrified.

The alarm clock on my bedside table reads 00.01 am.

It’s October 31st, Halloween.

Happy Birthday to me.

Today I turn eighteen. –

 

 

Copyright © Ninfa Hayes and Misty Price, “Divine”. All rights reserved. Excerpt may be altered before publication

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Facebook: Ninfa Hayes www.facebook.com/ninfa.m.sferlazzo/posts/10151280692126655?ref=notif&notif_t=like#!/pages/Ninfa-Hayes/231118400279030

 

Twitter: @Ninfa76 www.twitter.com/Ninfa76

 

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5782405.Ninfa_Hayes

 

Publisher’s Website: www.bittenfruitbooks.com/bites-ya-dark-paranormal-fantasy.html

 

Books available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Waterstones, the Book Depository, and all major online retailers.

IAM Interview…with author Ninfa Hayes

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Ninfa Hayes is today’s featured author – this morning you can find out more about her in a full-length interview and feature on her novel Bites, this afternoon our second feature will give you a sneak peek at Divine, her current WIP that she’s writing with Misty Price. 

Ninfa lives in Manchester, UK with husband Gareth, daughter Cassandra and two gorgeous kitties, Jemima and Shelley. Originally from Italy, she’s half Spanish, half Italian and British by choice and marriage.

She loves books and is a total bookaholic! Reading and writing have always been a big part of her life and for this she thanks both her parents for passing down the literary gene and the passion for a good story.

Ninfa is big on Networking and co-runs an array of Facebook pages and blogs about books and all things supernatural. She also reviews books for the Facebook “Bookaholics Book Club” on a regular basis.

In this spirit, she’s also training her daughter in these dark arts and plans on making her a huge geek, whether she likes it or not!

If you’d like to find out more about Ninfa and her stories, you can check out her Facebook author page, Ninfa Hayes.

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Ninfa Hayes - Image

What is you favorite way to spend a rainy day?

Oh, it’s got to be been curled up on the sofa, tv or music playing in the background, a nice  big pot of steaming vanilla tea and snacks on the coffee table, and a good book in my hands 🙂

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I LARP (Live Action Role Play)! I get dressed up in costume and go interact in game with people. It’s awesome and it allows me to live stories that I would not be able to experience otherwise 🙂 My favorite game is called Odyssey and it’s steeped in ancient world Mythology 🙂

 You’re right – that was definitely not an answer we were expecting! OK – on the subject of an odyssey – you’ve found a time machine on your driveway this morning – where are you going to go in it?

Well, my very first trip would be back twenty years, to see my dad one more time. He passed away when I was 18 and it would be amazing to be able to tell him all about my life and his granddaughter. After that, I would head to 1815 to meet Jane Austen, one of my favorite writers…from then it would be a big tour of the history of books…Tolkien, Marion Zimmer Bradley…so many authors to meet! 🙂

What is the one book you think everyone should read?

Just one? That’s impossible, lol! Everyone should read as much as they can! Reading feeds your soul 🙂 But if I had to recommend a book or series, it would probably be “Harry Potter” by J. K. Rowling because at the heart of it, it has a very strong and positive message, and that’s to stand up for what is good and to believe in yourself because no matter who you are, young or old, strong or weak, you CAN change the world.

How do you react to a bad review?

It’s hard to receive criticism and I can’t say it doesn’t hurt to know that someone didn’t enjoy my book, but at the end of the day it’s part of being a writer and putting yourself out there. I like to think that I’m respectful of people’s opinions and if someone has taken the time to write down their thoughts on my work and share it, then I should be grateful for that time.

Which authors have influenced you most, and how?

There are several, but I think the top three would be Louisa May Alcott, because I read “Little Women” like 40 times when I was younger and wanted to be Jo March sooo bad! Marion Zimmer Bradley and her book “The Mists of Avalon” for introducing me to Fantasy, and last but not least, Kelley Armstrong, for writing the books I would want to have written myself and for giving me the best advice ever: “If you want to be a good writer, you have to read!”

Night owl or early bird?

Night Owl all the way. I don’t do mornings very well, although with a full time job and a family I don’t always have a choice. Thank goodness for my lovely hubby as he lets me have a lie in at the weekend most times 🙂

One food you would never eat?

Insects of any kind…I know in some parts of the world they are delicacies, but I could never eat a bug…never ever!

What are you working on at the moment – do you have any other books in the works?

I have several projects, but right now I’m working on two that I’m hoping to finish in 2013.

The first one is a team up with Misty Price from the Bookaholics Book Club on Facebook and Blog. We are writing a YA Mythological Fantasy called “Divine” and I’m very excited about this story. It’s about two girls, Callie and Tia, and the prophecy that ties them together. Lots of references to the Greek Gods and a lot of action and romance 🙂

The second project is one I’ve been working on for years, on and off, and it’s called “Morgan’s Legacy”, Book one in the House of Avalon series. As you can probably guess it’s a take on Arthurian legends, lots of magic and also a YA,

but “Divine” is the priority at the moment.

So…on the project you’re co-writing with Misty – how does that work?

We each write from the point of view of one of the protagonists, alternating chapters and forwarding each others stories. It’s great because you get a multiple view of the world and the story, and because it’s written by two different people you know that the characters will have very unique and individual voices.

That sounds like a great way to create two characters and keeping them independent. How do you find it working with someone else, is it easier than flying solo, or can it make things more difficult?

It’s exciting, because we each come up with new ideas and inject them in the story, so we are almost like readers, discovering the world of the book and the characters as we go. It keeps things interesting. Of course there are compromises to be made, because we’ll both have a rough idea of how we want things to go, but it’s not necessarily how the other will see it. So far it’s been a fairly smooth process, but we are just finishing first draft and I know there will be bumps to smooth over once we start reviewing the story.

Overall I’m loving the experience, and the word count doesn’t seem as scary when you’re only doing half 😉

What made you decide to write together?

I’ve been helping out a little with the Bookaholics Book club over the last couple of years, and Misty is a good friend. She is also a budding writer and was experimenting with her own stories which I was lucky enough to get to read. I like her ideas and her style. When we decided to launch a newsletter for the Book Club, Misty wanted to do something special for our followers, so we decided to write a short story in a few chapters as an extra. That’s how “Divine” was born. I came up with the initial setting, but as we started writing it we kinda realized we would need more than a few chapters. We fell in love with the characters and the story and from there decided to turn in into a full blown novel. 50K words later here we are, first edit is almost complete, then we’ll be developing the characters and world fully and hopefully sending our baby out into the world to see if we can attract the interest of a publishing house. If not, we will happily self publish as we really want to share “Divine” with all readers out there 🙂

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?

Oh gosh, that would be a dream come true…do I have to pick just one?! There are so many amazing worlds…okay, I’m going to narrow it down to either the world of Harry Potter because let’s face it, I need to get into Ravenclaw, and Tolkien’s Middle Earth, ’cause been a Hobbit would totally rock!

What was your favorite book when you were younger? 

“Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy M. Montgomery. I adored that book and the ones that followed. I could relate to Anne so much: the daydreaming, making up stories in my mind. It’s such a beautiful story, full of emotion, and it was a great inspiration as I grew up. Anne is a normal girl, she makes mistakes all the time and learns from them, she’s also a strong heroine and wants to make something better of herself. There are so many positive messages in her story and I can’t wait for my daughter to be old enough to read it 🙂

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book?

For “Bites” it would be “Ava Adore” by the Smashing Pumpkins, for “Divine” so far I’ve listened to Taylor Swifts album “Fearless” on repeat because it puts me in a teenage kinda mood and helps me get into my character’s head 🙂

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?

Nia Vardalos, from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”! She’s talented, funny, creative and she’s a woman with curves that has not given in to the “stick figure” Hollywood stereotype. She’s also Mediterranean in origin so she might actually be able to pull off my Italian/Spanish/ English weird accent Xp

How did you know you should become an author?

I’ve always written, since I was little, but never thought anything would come of it, it was just something I loved to do.

4 years ago I got pregnant with my daughter and whilst I was on maternity leave I realized I needed something to keep me sane, so I started writing more and more and actually found peace, something that could be just mine. When I gathered enough courage I showed my writing to friends, and got lots of encouragement. They liked my stories and wanted more. From there it progressed until I actually decided to send it to Dianna Hardy, who I admired as a writer and would later become my publisher. That was the best thing to ever happen to me, her guidance and insight into the publishing world are the reasons why “Bites” exists, and I’m forever grateful to her for that. Now I know I could not stop writin even if I wanted to, it’s a part of who I am and it makes me a better person.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

I think there’s a little of me in each of my main characters. Perhaps only little aspects such as common likes, a personality trait, a passion shared. After all they all come from my mind. The villains are the most difficult to write for me because of that I think, it’s almost like exorcising parts of me that I don’t like and I’ve been fighting to keep at bay, so it’s very intense to face them and accept them to be able to write them vividly enough that it will be believable, but it’s also very therapeutic in a way.

 What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?

“Catching Fire” (I LOVE “The Hunger Games” Trilogy!) and “The Host” for movies; “The Indigo Spell” by Richelle Mead, “Cry of the Wolf” by Dianna Hardy and “Loki’s Wolves – Blackwell Pages Book 1” by Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr in books 🙂

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook. I’m still trying to work out how to use Twitter to its full potential, but I prefer the flexibility of Facebook for longer statuses and posting photos and links.

Favourite quote from a movie?

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude mater. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes.”

Master Yoda to Luke, “Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back”.

Yes, I’m a huge “Star Wars” fan, and a Geek, and proud of it 🙂

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Two short stories that will seduce you with romance, danger, sensuality … and Vampire bites.

BITES - Cover Image

Last of the Blood

When the sweet scent reaches me I know I have found what I’m looking for. My hands reach out in the darkness to the unaware girl. She’s warm and soft and doesn’t even get to scream before I’m drinking deeply from her, her struggles too feeble to bother me.

Only the blood counts.

I’ve never tasted anything like it.  Gloriously sweet, thick and strong and full of life.

I drink until the hunger subsides, until the body that I hold so close to me hangs lifelessly in my arms.  Only then I see.  Only then I recognize it, and the agony … oh, the agony is more than I can bear.

Demonica

Tonight is the Midwinter Solstice Ball, the most important night in the Daemonic Court’s calendar.

This is the night when new disciples are chosen, when demons come out to play, and all bets are off.

As it happens, tonight is also the night I become Queen. 

 Irina is about to become Queen of the Daemonic Court and Damon is on the run from his own nature …where will their paths take them?

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Facebook: Ninfa Hayes www.facebook.com/ninfa.m.sferlazzo/posts/10151280692126655?ref=notif&notif_t=like#!/pages/Ninfa-Hayes/231118400279030

Twitter: @Ninfa76 www.twitter.com/Ninfa76

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5782405.Ninfa_Hayes

Publisher’s Website: www.bittenfruitbooks.com/bites-ya-dark-paranormal-fantasy.html

Books available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Waterstones, the Book Depository, and all major online retailers.

IAM Book of the Day…Expect Civilian Casualties

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our featured author today is Gary Bonn and we’re showcasing his novel Expect Civilian Casualties. 

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Expect Civilian Casulaties Synopsis Jason has spent the last six years living wild on beaches. Now he’s seventeen and a feral girl walks into his life.

A girl with no name.
He calls her Anna. She’s fun, she’s kind—and she’s the most dangerous person in    the world.
The most unusual love story, and a truly strange war story… Expect Civilian Casualties turns how we see the world upside down.

Author Interview 

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?  Hey… I could be a writer!

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why? I’d be happy to play the lead role in my life. This time I’d like some warning of what was going to happen next, a decent script and I’d ask for a more professional director and a bigger budget.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters? Lol. A writer has to be their characters. You must be an old woman struggling upstairs, a child sitting beside his mother’s dead body, a suicidal teenage girl, a soldier knowing he’s going to die, a…

If you can’t live it – how are your readers going to?

There’s a huge picture here. A writer has to get into character as much as an actor. You write romance or tragedy – you have to live through the emotions. Write Sci-fi and you must wear the buttons and levers down until you are as familiar with them as the veteran astronaut (or whatever) you’re writing about.

I wrote a book (that I’d dearly like published) some years ago. In it, a number of people struggled to earn a living in the most unusual circumstances. I spent weeks, just being each of them, going through their daily routines until I felt the blisters and sunburn – and their excitement, hopes and fears. This sort of immersion pervades your waking life and it can be hard to concentrate on reality. Asleep, I dreamt of the morning-bell being struck. I shivered and clambered into my coarse overalls, stumbled though ill-lit sleeping quarters, tested my weapons and prepared to clear the working area of the most horrific monsters.

I still go there in my imagination, not that I like the place, but I love the people.

This level of immersion is so obvious when I read another writer’s book. I love it and I’m inspired when a real person leaps at me from the page.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? I hardly noticed – Firedance keeps me busy – but I don’t mind, because I like the intoxicating whirl of it all.

How do you react to a bad review? Anyone who gives me a bad review falls into one of four categories:

1)    I think they are the most wonderful people on earth and will help me strengthen my writing. This amounts to 99.99% of the people who give me negative criticism.

2)    I think they are stupid and don’t fit into the first category – but I’m wrong.

3)    They are 13 year old internet trolls who haven’t read my work, but still spout negativity – but may actually read my books one day and like them. It’s best to treat them with kindness and respect – or they may grow into adult trolls.

4)    It’s my mother.

Which authors have influenced you most, and how? I’d like to say Morris West (Clowns of God), Neville Shute (Round the Bend), |Laurens Van Der Post (A Story like the Wind), William Blake, etc, have most defined me as a person – as if they were surrogate fathers. However, Tove Jansson got to me first (when I was 8 years old). I grew up to be her character Snufkin. I like to be alone in mountains; I like few, but intense relationships. Jansson taught me to be considerate and kind. If Tove Jansson were alive today, I’d give her a big hug and say thank you.

As far as writing is concerned, the writers at WriterLot have been my greatest influence – constantly challenging and encouraging. My work would not be half so good without them. What you see on the site does not indicate the huge amount of support and development that goes on behind the scenes.

The editors at Firedance Books Ltd have been wonderful too. They know so much, and they’re only too happy to give me advice and encouragement.

Most recently, my son, Christy, has been an inspiration. Not only is he a great writer – but he’s the engine behind the UFOAI stories, (See WriterLot).

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Ooh, now we’re getting serious. Learning how to write takes longer than you could possibly believe – there are 3 and 4 year degree courses in creative writing. Learning to take negative criticism takes as long as you try to resist the fact that it’s the soil in which your writing grows. Learning to work with editors takes as long as your ego is big. Think 3 years to get the writing skills (and thick skin for editorial). If you are a beginner and have a good story, don’t let this put you off, write it – we all need good stories.

The most earnest piece of advice goes to those people who self publish. Often this is  without understanding the need for rigorous developmental/structural editing, copy editing and proof reading. I’ve been asked to review books that haven’t been through these processes – and it’s been heart breaking. I can’t stress the need for editorial support enough. For every hour a reader spends reading – you spend 200-300 hours writing, revising, revising, revising and revising again. Revision can only happen with the help of editors who are experts in fiction – or even better, in the genre of that book – you are blind to your own errors. However, working in this environment makes you a seriously good editor for other writers who will bless you for being objectively hard on them. It’s teamwork.

Whew, rant over – and, hopefully, a few tears saved.

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year? Ah, lucky you… I’ve know of some books that should go into print soon…I’m looking forward to:

The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole. The ending of which had me holding my breath for what felt like 6 hours…

Stillness Dancing, by Jae Erwin, which had me gasping over a single line of mind-bending dialogue which gave me a new way to understand people.

Coil, by Ren Warom (writer of Umwelt). This book sears images into your brain that will never leave you. You’ll beg for her next book.

Serpent, by Alison Gardiner – if only that had been written earlier. I could have read it to my children when they were younger. Think “Kick-ass hamster meets wizards and goblins…”. Vivid, hilarious and very clever.

The Kinless Sword (working title), by Stephen Godden, (author of Tales of the Shonri, City of Lights). No one builds worlds and whole cosmologies that suck me in so hard as his. You finish his stories and have to remember you live in this world.

There are others, wonderful books, but I think these will be published soonest – keep an eye out for them.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Lol, last week, one of my editors said, ‛See your therapist before you write another book.’

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? I never managed growing up – and with good reason. I decided all adults are mad. My first assessment of them was rather traumatic. Think of a six year old boy and lots of snow. I had weeks of fun and asked passing adults what they thought of snow. Almost all said they didn’t like it, or they did – but.

I learned that ‛but’ often meant ‛no’. Snow turned to slush, driving was tricky, snow makes your feet wet…

Adults were clearly stupid and I decided never be one. Since then I’ve worked out that adults don’t drag their children out to make snowmen.

You’ve found a time machine on your driveway this morning – where are you going to go in it? I would use it to enter the Dr Who story, ‛Blink’ – or meet the author. The author needs a hug/pint of beer for the incredible amount of effort that went into the timeline. I’m sure there are flaws in it – but I can’t find them (I forget to look after a few minutes). I’m impressed – really impressed. Well done.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why? I would choose here and now. Writing takes a lot of time and the rest you spend in fantasy land. I miss out on reality and would like to catch up a bit.

Seriously, this has led to problems. People have asked me things like, ‛What do you think of Libya?’ To which I may reply, ‛It’s a hot place in the north of Africa.’ Somehow I missed the fact that we’d invaded it (or something) three weeks before.

I swear that, if I were to undergo a test for dementia, I’d be hospitalised. ‛Who is the current Prime Minister?’ (Er… dunno, do we have one?). ‛What day is it?’ (Today!).

 What are you working on at the moment – do you have any other books in the works? Another Y/A-crossover – but guess what? – I’m to do total revision of it. There are two humorous fantasy books ready for rejection… lol, (I love witches). Two speculative fiction books await inspection as well – although I need to cut 20% out of one and that’s going to be a lot of work. The UFOAI stories have added chapters now; Christy and I are pulling them together into a coherent book.

 What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?  ‛Gary, shut up.’

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

WriterLot: http://writerlot.net/writerlot.htm

WriterLot: Gary Bonn. http://www.writerlot.net/GaryBonn.htm

IAM Guest Post…Why I Write YA

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our featured author today is MB Mulhall, telling us why she writes YA books and showcasing her novel Tears of a ClownLet’s find out more!

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Why I Write YA…

I am long past what is considered my “Young Adult” years, but I find myself drawn to writing stories dealing with teens and young adults more than anything else.  I think it’s because so many people can relate to them. Even though they’re meant for teens, most adults have fond (or not so fond) memories of that time in life and can take a trip down memory lane by reading the books I write.

Young Adult novels aren’t fluff and dumbed down writing.  They deal with serious topics and situations and I think it’s important for me to bring some of those issues to light whether it drug use, gay relationships or eating disorders.  I don’t tone down the language or the severity of the situations because I want it to be as realistic as possible.

I also love the idea of first love and all that comes along with it. Those butterflies in the stomach, the worries about whether they’ll do it the right way, say the wrong thing, that first kiss.  I love to be able to recreate it and have readers relive their own memories as they read along.

There’s so much growth and self-awareness in the teen years that leaves for so many writing possibilities and character development.  Writing young adult novels allows me relive the good and bad moments of my youth and hopefully instill in those reading my books that change is possible, a broken heart isn’t the end of the world, that high school won’t last forever and there’s plenty of good times to come.

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Tears of a Clown Some girls wear makeup to enhance their natural beauty.

Some wear it to make themselves look sexy and mature, in the hopes to attract the attention of a paramour.

Darcy wears hers as a mask, a deterrent, a tribute of sorts to the musical group who got her through her parents’ messy divorce.

When she’s uprooted from her hometown in Detroit and plopped down into rural Georgia, the townsfolk don’t know whether she’s an escapee from the circus or a devil worshiping antichrist looking to kill their pets and corrupt their children.

Much to her surprise, Darcy finds herself in the middle of a bizarre love triangle; the preppy good-looking popular boy that all parents would love on one side, and the bad boy heartthrob that would have fathers sitting on their porches with shotguns and mothers buying chastity belts on the other.

Not surprisingly, Darcy also finds herself the object of cruel jokes, bullying and pies in the face. While she’s trying to stand up for what she believes in and exact revenge on those who treat her and her friends badly, she also has to decide between the two guys vying for her attention.

Will one of them really be able to see beyond the makeup and love her for her? Or will she end up just being a pawn in a long standing rivalry between the boys?

*Recommended for older teens age 15+*

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About the Author 

MB Mulhall is the author of Young adult novels, Near Death and Tears of a Clown, as well as a budding photographer. When she’s not pecking away at her keyboard or looking at the world up close through her lens, she’s got her nose stuck in a book.  A Jersey girl, born and bred, she spends much of her time scouring the boardwalks for images to capture and conversations to overhear. MB dreams of filling bookshelves with her own work  and of plastering her walls with photographs she’s taken from places around the world.

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IAM Interview…with author David Estes

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

David Estes is today’s featured author – this morning you can find out more about him in a full-length interview. 

David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. He grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife and soul mate, Adele, who he’s now been happily married to for two years.
A reader all his life, David began writing novels for the children’s and YA markets in 2010, and has completed 10 novels, 8 of which have been published.  The Star Dwellers will be his 8th published novel. In June of 2012, David became a fulltime writer and is now travelling the world with his wife while he writes books, and she writes and takes photographs.
David gleans inspiration from all sorts of crazy places, like watching random people do entertaining things, dreams (which he jots copious notes about immediately after waking up), and even from thin air sometimes! Recently he’s been inspired by some of his favorite authors, like Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Maggie Stiefvater.
David’s a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.  He loves responding to e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets, blog comments, and Goodreads comments from his readers, all of whom he considers to be his friends.

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 If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

1. A magic lamp with a genie (preferably the Robin Williams voiced genie from Aladdin) who will grant me three wishes
2. A boxed set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (Favorite. Series. Ever.)
3. A sturdy beach chair
How do you react to a bad review?
Sob, scream at the walls, rock back and forth. All three things at the same time. It’s messy, you don’t want to see it.
Kidding aside, I’ve had to grow some pretty thick skin, pretty fast. I never want someone to dislike my books, my writing style, my characters. But the truth is, everyone has different opinions, which is what makes life interesting. I mean, have you ever hated a book that all of your friends said was amazing? I know I have. My goal as a writer cannot be to please everyone. It’s simply to improve my writing with each and every book and do my very best to entertain my incredible readers. So when I do occasionally get a negative review, I read it and try to glean any constructive feedback from it that may help me in the future. Anything I disagree with or that is mean spirited, I just ignore. It’s all about having the right attitude and always striving to improve.
Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
Absolutely! Sleep in (yeah, not a morning person) first. Get up around 9am, have breakfast with my wife. Then I start writing, putting in at least two hours in the morning (2,000+ words). Lunch with my wife and then we try to do something fun together, like if we’re near a beach (which we usually are), we go to the beach, go swimming, read books together, etc. I’ll put in another hour or two of writing in the afternoon, too, to bring my word count to between 3 and 4 thousand, or the occasional 5,000+ word day. We have dinner and spend the evening either at home watching movies, watching our favorite TV shows, or hanging out with friends, or going to watch live music.
Throughout the day and into the evening I do all the other stuff that comes with being a full time writer, like interviews, blog appearances, answering reader mail, doing blog posts, and publishing my books.
I always read before bed, too, usually 50+ pages of whatever book I’ve currently got my nose in. That’s it! That’s a day in the life. Day in and day out I put in 3-4 hours of writing a day, and at least that much time doing other author activities, which is the commitment required to publish a book every 2-3 months. It’s a lot of work, but the flexible lifestyle and creativity of it makes it all worthwhile. And, of course, all the support from my readers, who are absolutely incredible, the best people in the world, and my dearest friends!
If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
Besides my OCD, which I’ve blogged about as my real superpower (I’m not kidding), I would want to fly! There’s a reason I chose flying for my nine-year-old child superhero Nikki Powergloves (from my The Adventures of Nikki Powergloves series) as her favorite superpower. Namely, who doesn’t want to be able to fly? I mean, really, what kid doesn’t dream of being able to fly above the trees, above the clouds, and over buildings? IT WOULD BE AWESOME!
What are you working on at the moment – do you have any other books in the works?
I’m always working on something! Having recently released The Star Dwellers, the sequel to The Moon Dwellers, my focus is on publishing the third book in the Dwellers Saga, The Sun Dwellers, which I’ve already written. Currently I’m working on editing and revising it and getting it ready for publishing. At the same time, I’m working on the first book in my sister series to The Dwellers Saga, titled Fire Country, another YA dystopian novel that will eventually connect with the underground world of the Tri-Realms.
For those who love YA dystopian novels with lots of twists, turns, a bit of comedy and a whole lot of emotion, you’ll likely enjoy the Dwellers Saga.

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The Moon Dwellers In a desperate attempt to escape destruction decades earlier, humankind was forced underground, into the depths of the earth, creating a new society called the Tri-Realms.

After her parents and sister are abducted by the Enforcers, seventeen-year-old Adele, a member of the middle-class moon dwellers, is unjustly sentenced to life in prison for her parents’ crimes of treason.

Against all odds, Adele must escape from the Pen and find her family, while being hunted by a deranged, killing machine named Rivet, who works for the President. She is helped by two other inmates, Tawni and Cole, each of whom have dark secrets that are better left undiscovered. Other than her friends, the only thing she has going for her is a wicked roundhouse kick and two fists that have been well-trained for combat by her father.

At the other end of the social spectrum is Tristan, the son of the President and a sun dweller. His mother is gone. He hates his father. Backed by only his servant and best friend, Roc, he leaves his lavish lifestyle in the Sun Realm, seeking to make something good out of his troubled life.

When a war breaks out within the Tri-Realms, Tristan is thrust into the middle of a conflict that seems to mysteriously follow Adele as she seeks to find her family and uncover her parents true past. In their world, someone must die.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

His Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/davidestesbooks