Category Archives: Writing

My Writing Process Blog Tour

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#mywritingprocess

I was tagged by Raymond Bolton http://www.raymondbolton.com to take part in a tag team blog tour. If you’re a Twitter user and enjoy this post, please Tweet it up and follow me, as well. Thanks for reading!

1) What am I working on?
I am currently working on the third installment of The Shapeshifter Chronicles, my young adult paranormal series. I am still without a title, but hope to settle on it soon. I’m in the last quarter of the book and things are moving pretty fast now.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I like to think that despite the fact that I write in the paranormal and fantasy genre I bring quite a bit of reality into my work. I like the reader to connect with my characters and truly feel like they know and understand them. I feel this is important with this genre when you’re making up magical and fantastical elements, that certain things remain true like feelings and connections. I’m not sure if this really makes my work different from others, but it’s something that I’ve found lacking in some work in my genre (definitely not all).

3) Why do I write what I do?
I love magical realism and what they used to call urban fantasy. I have always been interested in alternate histories and novels that play with another view on events or popular stories/fairy tales. I write what I’m excited about. I have many different ideas on potential stories, only so much time to write. The focus has been on my YA paranormal series and my MG fantasy series, but I am excited to expand in the future.

4) How does your writing process work?
I am probably a nightmare to the meticulous. I write based off a loose idea and I plan while I write. As I move through the story, I connect elements and devise my scenes. I will hash out my ideas with my husband who does his best to poke holes and help me come up with creative solutions to problems. I do my research as I move through, although I do tend to do my shapeshifter research for the region I’m focusing on before I start the book just so I can familiarize myself wit the culture I’m focusing on. Because I don’t often have everything laid out before I begin I do tend to have to go back through the earlier chapters of the book if I change an element which means it’s impossible for me send work to beta readers early.
Once I’ve finished my first draft I usually read it aloud to my husband. This allows me to hear repetitive word use, clunky sentences or other issues, which I correct as I read. When I’m done with this phase I traditionally send it to my editor for a developmental read through for a critique. After I get the recommendations back I make any structural changes I need to and then it’s off to my beta readers.
I address any issues my beta’s might have and then it’s off to have a line edit for the final draft.
Last but not least, it’s off to my readers :)

It’s my turn now to pass the baton to the following author. Visit their blog next Monday, February 24, to see how they write.

Rachelle Ayala is the author of dramatic fiction crossing genres and boundaries. http://www.rachelleayala.com/

Cover Reveal for An Unfortunate Beginning

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It is my pleasure to announce the release of book 1 of The Novel Adventures of Nimrod Vale, An Unfortunate Beginning. Available August 1st 2013 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Now that this book has found it’s wings it’s time to focus on The Shapeshifter Chronicles!

Heroes Create Their Own Endings

NimrodValeFINAL2Nimrod Vale is convinced he is the unluckiest twelve-year-old alive. Life is hard when your name doubles as an insult, but he finds it is even worse when your mom dies. Nim is forced to stay with his only living relative, his Aunt Holly in Portland, Oregon. After settling in, he is ready to get lost in a good book, except his bad luck gets in the way when he tips a cup of steaming coffee onto his tablet. While his most prized possession is being repaired, Nim grows anxious to start writing one of his own stories, so his aunt sends him to the attic in search of his grandpa’s treasured fountain pen.

An accidental discovery reveals a desolate world that he thought only existed on the pages of his parchment. Nim prefers to pretend it never happened, and hide away in the school library. There he meets a loner named Pepper who gives him no choice but to be his friend, but when she discovers what he’s been hiding, she forces his hand. Nim then must choose to step up and help the fictional war-torn land or turn his back on the people who need him most.

The Novel Adventures of Nimrod Vale is a middle grade series meant for readers between the ages of 8-13+ yrs old

Mirror, Mirror

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My teenage self

I remember when I was a teenager, wondering what it would be like to look into the future to glimpse my adult life. If I could just stare into the mirror and catch sight, a wisp or trace of what was to come. What will I look like? Will I be married? With kids? Where will I be?

Now that I think back to my innocent, and curious self, I wish I could send myself a message, a letter. It is really a message to all of the young and hopeful, or even confused and unsure.

Your life won’t be easy. In fact it will be downright hard at times. But never lose hope, because it’s the light inside you.

Never compare yourself to anyone else. You have the life you were given, and it is beautiful and special if you make it.

People care for you, and if you let them help you, you won’t be alone in your struggles.

It is never too late to follow your dreams and above all, laugh.

When I first dove into writing, it followed my daughters last open-heart surgery. I needed to create a world where I held the power to heal to her, and a place I could escape to. That is the beautiful thing about stories. They allow the reader (and in my case writer) an escape into a character’s life. An escape into another world.

My passion has grown and I wish I had enough time to focus on my writing full time, but unfortunately, I can’t. I am a busy mom, and web developer. Life has continued to challenge me and my strength. So much so, that I wish I could just climb into my make-believe worlds rather than have to deal with disability claims, my child’s behavioral issues, and paying numerous medical bills when money isn’t flowing like it used to.

As the holidays approach, and a chill creeps into the air I am having a hard time finding the spirit that has always carried me through the season. BUT, I do feel the love and support from my friends and family, who I am so grateful for.

Would my teenage self be disappointed to see where I am? I may have white hairs and bags under my eyes, BUT I also have accomplished more than I ever thought I would. I have more strength than I thought I had. And I’m not done yet.

I will keep writing. I will keep hoping. I will keep on until I can’t any more.

 

Upcoming Release

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I recently completed the rough draft of Prodigy, Book 2 in the Shapeshifter Chronicles and am currently going though the editing process. I am very excited to share with my readers Chance and Ana’s new adventures. It should provide plenty of excitement and answer some of  those pesky questions…but of course, leave you with a few as well.

At this point I have plans for four books in the series, with the possibility of more. After the release of Prodigy I will put my attention to finishing another book that was shelved so I could deliver the second book in the Shapeshifter Chronicles.  It is a middle grade adventure series titled, The Novel Adventures of Nimrod Vale. More to come on that as I get closer to completing it.

Thank you for all the reading support!

 

Interview with Author Amy Manneman

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I am late posting this, but  here is an interview I gave my friend, and author, Amy Manneman (The Deadly series).

Where are you originally from?

I am from a small town in Northern California named Nevada City. Tall evergreens, rolling mountains and fresh air, it’s my favorite place to visit. I used to walk down the road from my house and go blackberry picking for blackberry ice cream in the summer. Mmmmm.

 

What inspired you to become a writer?

Other writers are my inspiration. There is nothing more magical than being transported into another person’s life. I love experiencing another time and circumstance. It still amazes me how joy, fear or passion, are easily transferred from prose. I have always enjoyed writing, but my inspiration has come from authors and writers who force me to forget the laundry, making dinner or doing my work just to read one more chapter. I strive to do that for my own readers.

 

How did you decide on your book’s genre?

I absolutely love reading fantasy & romance. In the last ten years or so, the young adult genre has created a huge following. I love reading all of the above, so it was natural for me to combine them, when creating my new series.

 

What is/are your favorite genre(s)?

Growing up, I was never without a book. I am an only child, so they were the perfect companion. I’ve gone through different phases, as a young child my parents read The Hobbit to me in bed. Some of my favorite book related memories are begging my mom and dad to keep reading. Then as a teen I discovered classic romance novels by Austen, Bronte and Fitzgerald. When I moved out of my childhood home, I couldn’t put down fantasy and sci-fi novels. Now it has progressed into young adult and middle grade fantasy. I can’t turn down a good urban fantasy that has great character development, action and romance.

 

Are you currently reading anything?

Because I am a busy mother, writer and web/design contractor, I haven’t had the opportunity to start a book for myself recently, but I am in the middle of reading one of the Sister’s Grimm books to my kids. It’s a fun, and imaginative middle grade book, which entices imaginative minds.

 

Who or what is the driving force that keeps you going?

The excitement for my story keeps me moving. I love my characters and their world, so my passion for them is what keeps me writing.

 

How do you balance your personal life with your writing career?

I wish I could say I was a full time writer, but I’m not. The reality is, I’m a busy mother, vice-president of the PTA, a web developer and designer. These elements keep me very occupied, but I try to carve out time in my days to write. While I write this interview, I am waiting for some muffins to finish in the oven for my daughter, who is home sick. It is a tricky balance, but I do my best.

 

Tell us about your book.

Fledgling is the first book in a series called, The Shapeshifter Chronicles. It is a young adult urban fantasy or I suppose it can be classified as a paranormal romance as well.

 

Set apart from other eighteen year olds, Ana Hughes knows she is different. A life threatening heart condition smothers her future and she yearns to feel normal. Her hopes are pinned on a fresh start in a remote town far from her native Colorado. Among the locker filled hallways in Clark Bend High, Ana keeps to the shadows, not wanting to draw attention to her violet tinged lips and wilted silhouette. And she almost succeeds, until she meets Chance Morgan.

Struggling to keep up appearances, she soon suspects Chance is hiding something as well. His animal-like senses, miraculous healing ability and peculiar reaction to her Thunderbird necklace compels Ana to question if there’s more to the stories about his Navajo ancestry. Without any other explanation, she fears he is playing tricks on her. But the truth may prove too much for Ana’s delicate heart…

 

How do you create your characters?

My own daughter inspired this books lead protagonist, Ana. My daughter was born with heart defects and my characters were created with that theme in mind. I think readers relate better to people who are imperfect. Creating a multi-faceted character is important when you want the reader to care about who is on the page. It is a fun challenge that I enjoy.

 

Do you have any upcoming events or book promotions?

I recently added a lost chapter to my website- www.theshapeshifterchronicles.com for readers who have downloaded my book from Amazon. There is a special code at the back of the book, which unlocks the chapter, The Prom.

 

Where can people find you and your work on the web?

I currently have it listed on Amazon- http://www.amazon.com/Fledgling-The-Shapeshifter-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B006XM426C/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1329929624&sr=8-3

 

Interview with Author Aaron M Ritchey

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I had the pleasure of talking with Aaron M Ritchey, author of The Never Prayer, a couple weeks back. My thanks go out to him and his generosity -

I Talk Heart of Darkness and Fledgling Shapeshifters With YA Author Natasha Brown

Writers can pop up literally anywhere. In your shower, late at night. Hotel rooms in bad parts of town. Kathmandu, Nepal. We are an elusive breed, shadowy, here one minute, gone the next. So was I surprised to find that a writer was haunting the halls of the Montessori school where my children go? Not in a horribly-scarred-phantom-of-the-opera type of way. Natasha Brown was just a parent, but so much more. I wasn’t surprised that Natasha had written a book, but I was impressed by her really good Amazon ranking. And the fact she finaled in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Gold contest. And that she had gone rogue, e-pubbed, and was doing well.

A little about her book, Fledgling (The Shapeshifter Chronicles):

Set apart from other eighteen-year-olds, Ana Hughes knows she is different. A life-threatening heart condition smothers her future and she yearns to feel normal. Her hopes are pinned on a fresh start in a remote town far from her native Colorado. Among the locker-filled hallways in Clark Bend High, Ana keeps to the shadows, not wanting to draw attention to her violet-tinged lips and wilted silhouette. And she almost succeeds, until she meets Chance Morgan.
Struggling to keep up appearances, she soon suspects Chance is hiding something as well. His animal-like senses, miraculous healing ability and peculiar reaction to her Thunderbird necklace compel Ana to question if there’s more to the stories about his Navajo ancestry. Without any other explanation, she fears he is playing tricks on her. But the truth may prove too much for Ana’s delicate heart…

We talked, and this is a little of what we talked about.

AARON: Okay, Natasha, at what point in your life did you want to write a novel? Where were you, what were you drinking, and were olives involved?

Natasha: It was the perfect storm – inspiration, courage and my family left me alone for a whole glorious weekend. I do love olives, but alas, they weren’t involved.

AARON: When we talked, you said you were inspired by J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. What about them inspired you? Haircuts? Choice of shoes? Mormonism? Britishism?

Natasha: They inspired me because they, like me, were mothers with an idea. An idea that they wrote down and had the tenacity to persist with. I thought if they could do it, then I would try as well.

AARON: Let me talk about myself for a minute, because, well, I am so very fascinating. I’m a big fan of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which inspired the movie Apocalypse Now. Kurtz, in the jungle, going mad, worshiped by the natives. He went rogue, just like you. What made you throw off the shackles of traditional publishing to set yourself up in your jungle paradise on Amazon?

Natasha: Let me smear some war paint on my face first before I answer…
Like you mentioned earlier I finaled in the RMFW contest, which was fantastic. It gave me the confidence to start querying agents. I had a few nibbles, but ultimately it led to a dead-end. And then life happened. When you are busy with kids and work, those other things fall away, and that is what happened to FLEDGLING. Until an acquaintance found out I had a finished novel collecting dust. He had self-published and found great success. I decided, what with the state of the evolving book world, I would go ahead and give it a try myself. I am a web developer and designer so I designed my own cover. I set the hook and waited for a nibble.

AARON: Kurtz summarized his experience in the jungle with four words, well, two words repeated twice: the horror, the horror. What two words, repeated twice, summarize your experience as an independent publisher?

Natasha: Two words is all? Yeesh. Take courage, take courage.

AARON: Why do you think your Amazon ranking is so good? My ranking is like three million and fluctuates as low as eight billion, but you, you have a ranking, a steady ranking, in the thousands, which is awesome. Did I just use way too many commas? Maybe. I’m a little nervous asking this question. I’m pausing a lot.

Natasha: I stole some fairy dust and sprinkled my computer with it. Does wonders, although whenever I click my mouse, it giggles. No, seriously. I am lucky. There are SO many elements that contribute to a book doing well. Past the obvious, that the book has to be somewhat interesting and in a genre that sells, there is a lot to marketing a book. A good cover and book blurb are very important – they are the first impression. You need to be present in social media like, facebook, twitter and your own author blog. I am part of a great author group named the World Literary Café (WLC- www.worldliterarycafe.com) which provides many resources to indie and traditional authors. I couldn’t have made it this far without my new group of friends.

AARON: One of your inspirations for Fledgling was your daughter’s heart condition. What kind of heart condition does she have, and how does that play into the novel?

Natasha: The heart issues are a huge issue in the story and everything revolves around it, much like in real life. My daughter was born with multiple heart defects. She had transposition of the great arteries, hypoplastic-left heart syndrome, and a large ventricular septal defect. That might sound like a lot of gibberish to most people, but all of those conditions caused enough trouble for my daughter to have two open-heart surgeries. Heart defects make up about a third of all children born with birth defects. My daughter is not alone. The personality and specific circumstances of my daughter are not the same as the lead character in my book, but they do share many of the same experiences. I wanted to create a female lead who could be a heroine for my daughter to look up to. For anyone who was born with heart defects.

AARON: We talked about how hard the writer’s journey is. What themes in Fledgling could inspire a struggling writer to keep on keeping on?

Natasha: A writer’s journey can be tortured to be sure, but it is so much broader than that. Being a teenager has its challenges as well, and I think they are much the same. Will they like me? Will I fit in? Stand out? I’m not good enough.

Self-doubt and insecurities plague everyone. Especially writers. FLEDGLING, I hope, will leave the reader uplifted and hopeful. My own story, and even my daughter’s story, I hope, will inspire as well. You CAN do it if you persevere.

AARON: Natasha, if you had to exchange your writer’s life for another artistic passion, what would you choose? For example, if I had to give up writing for some other type of creative art, I wouldn’t choose rockstar or famous Parisian painter, I’d choose quilting. Dudes who quilt are dead sexy. What about you?

Natasha: Dead sexy to be sure…I think you even have another book idea in there.
My father is a fine art photographer (and in another life, a graphic artist) and my mother does poetry. Artistry is in my blood. I have dabbled with quilting, stained glass, painting, photography, jewelry making and graphic design. I’m not sure what else I could try, but I’m only happy when I am creating something. I wouldn’t mind hanging in Italy, the country where I got engaged, and just ‘go with the flow’.

AARON: Thanks Natasha!

Natasha: And thank you, Aaron!

Website for the book
Natasha on twitter
Fledgling on Amazon