Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Author Interview with YA author Milli GIlbert

This month I'm wrapping up both of my blog tour series. I'm excited to introduce my last interview for that series, Milli Gilbert!

Kristen: Thank you so much for answering some questions for me. With the changes in reading materials over the years, it seems a popular question/debate is ebooks vs. paperbacks. Both have their pros and cons, but for your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Milli: Pretty much whatever I can get my hands on. I have a tablet, and I have physical books. I love being able to read in bed with the tablet without having the light on and disturbing my husband, but there’s still something to be said about the way a book feels in my hands, or the way an old book’s pages are worn soft, and the way it smells. I love the smell of old books.

Kristen: I so agree! I love the ability to read at night without bothering my husband and usually choose my Kindle at night for that reason. But there's something special about a paperback.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

Milli: Uh… yes. It depends on the character. Sometimes, we’re old friends just catching up, and other times, I’m still getting to know them. It’s like meeting anyone the first time. They’re fully developed, whether we see it or not, it’s a matter of being observant and finding what makes them tick. If you pay attention to the character, like you do when you’re talking to a friend, you start to pick up on their little quirks and personalities. Sometimes it takes a while. I’m still scratching my head over a couple of them.

Kristen: Wow, I love your way of describing that. Everyone's fully developed, but we need time to learn who they are.

Can you give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?

Milli: Oh, my… Um… Well, Jordy is very driven. Her goal in life, as a NASCAR driver, is to get out on the track and race even one season against her father before he retires. She refuses to give up, even when people tell her she can’t do something -- usually her twin brother, and she doesn’t care what others say about her. She is her own creature, and doesn’t have time for petty crap. Chris (the love interest) refuses to let Jordy give up, even when she doubts herself, and even though he gives odd birthday presents (for her 18th, he gave her a hammer, so she could break through the glass ceiling with it), he knows what buttons to push and when. Then again, when someone has been your best friend since they day you were born, thanks to their dads being best friends, it’s hard not to know someone.

Kristen: Sounds like fun! I love characters who have a goal and are determine to not give up, and to achieve their dreams.

To switch subjects a little, when it comes to publishing, what do you choose as a path and why?

Milli: I publish independently. There’s less for me to do that way - I’d be doing all the same marketing stuff I already do, even if I published traditionally, but I’m in complete control of the finished product.

Kristen: I'm so with you on the control thing. I want all the power! 

When you're putting a book together, how much research do you do?

Milli: That depends on the project. Some books, there’s very little research, others, there’s a lot more because I don’t know the subject matter. Sometimes, I just apply my own life to a situation I put a character in, and other times, I have to reach out to the world at large for

Kristen: I hate research and thought fantasy would be the perfect way to just make up my own stuff. But it's amazing how many things still weasel their way in that need me researching something. 

Thank you again for stopping by and what a great way to wrap up this series! If you want to know more about Milli or her books, don't forget to hit all the links below!

An eclectic writer, Milli Gilbert is a stay-at-home mom who loves to play with words almost as much as she loves to play with her kids. All of her stories involve romance, and maybe a little bit of mystery. Milli loves to write about cowboys and shifters, and can usually be found trying to find interesting ways to combine them. She also writes smut under a different name. She has several short stories published, and will have her first full length novel out in November 2017. She just took off after one of her couples to follow them around for a few months – but don’t worry, she’ll be back. 

Find Milli on FacebookGoogle+, and Pinterest, or follow her on Twitter.

And of course, on her blog, Hairballs of Genius.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Interview with Corinne Morier

This month's interview is with Corinne Morier, also known as the Meme Queen!

Kristen - What is your favorite part of the book you're working on now?

Corinne - I think my favorite part is in chapter seven, when Ceruden is questioned by the spirit of the river. I was sort of inspired by a subplot in an anime I watched and wanted to expand upon the idea of a spirit living in the river that never stopped asking questions. Although I was also scared to death that it wasn't believable enough, so just the other day when I received feedback on it from one of my critique partners, I was so happy when she said that it added a fun layer of complexity to the world I'd created.

Kristen - What literary character do you relate the most to?

Corinne - I definitely relate most to Hermione from the Harry Potter series. We're so alike it's scary. I was also the bookish outcast who loved school and ended up the favorite of several of my teachers. And the scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when they're in their first day of Potions class and Snape is asking Harry a bunch of questions that he doesn't know how to answer, and meanwhile, Hermione is sitting on the edge of her seat frantically waving her hand in the air because she knows the answer to the teacher's questions is exactly like how I was back in school.

Kristen - What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Corinne - I just want people to walk away from my book having enjoyed the story. I don't really care if it's a character, or a certain part of the story, or even just a certain line that sticks with them. I just want to write stories that remain in peoples' heads long after they turn the final page.

Kristen - That's definitely a hope I can empathize with. The feeling that someone enjoyed your story, no matter what aspect of it, is so inspiring and makes it all feel worthwhile.

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why?

Corinne - I think I'd want to fly. Cliched answer, I know, but it just seems like so much fun to soar through the air.

Kristen - And no worrying about traffic! Getting to places would be faster because you could fly straight there instead of zigzagging.

What's the hardest thing about writing?

Corinne - Motivating yourself to sit in the chair, day after day, and bang out words onto a keyboard that make some semblance of sense in the hopes that someone somewhere will be entertained by them.

Kristen - Very true! Especially if you have so many other things that you want to do as well, or have to do, it can be hard to make time in a day to just write.

Thank you for joining me today, and I can't wait to see how your novel turns out!

Corinne Morier is a bibliophile-turned-writer with a penchant for writing stories that make readers think. In her free time, she enjoys blogging, playing video games, and swimming. Her motto is “Haters gonna hate and potatoes gonna potate.” 

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Interview with Allie May

This month's interview is with Allie May, writer and blogger!

Kristen - Where is your favorite place to write?

Allie May - My recliner used to be the best place to sit and write. I love writing with my feet up, and the chair was so comfortable. But it’s currently in storage. When I’m at work, I’m stuck at a desk and it’s not comfortable at all. Now I have a chair support for my bed that I use when I write on my days off work.

Kristen - Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Allie May - Absolutely. For example, if a book has a shirtless guy on it, then I won’t buy it. I’m also tired of the girls in awkward positions trying to look natural on covers.

Here’s what I want my book cover to look like. It looks kind of like a textbook which I think makes it stand out more on the shelf. But ultimately the publisher gets to decide what it looks like.

Kristen - I also think knowing your audience plays into it. I feel like I'm attracted to certain kinds of covers, and that it's a great first impression aspect that authors and publishers can use to say "my book is the kind of book people who enjoy x type of fiction will love". 

And I'm so with you on the shirtless men photos! Or the headless people, where they just took a picture from the neck down. Those aren't deal breakers, but I spend too much time wondering where their heads went.

Does your book use any references to mythology or real-world folklore, or does it contain its own folklore?

Allie May - One of my favorite parts of Powerful is the mythology that I was able to create for each kingdom. They each have their own creation myths that I based off real world religions. One is a monotheistic religion with a prophet that I based off Islam. One is a polytheistic religion that I based off Indian and Japanese religions. One is kind of a Native American inspired religion where the elements themselves are gods. It was probably my favorite thing to write out of the whole book.

Kristen - What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Allie May - I’m not really marketing books right now, since I don’t have anything published yet, but I do spend a lot of time marketing myself. I make sure to use social media once a day, and I try to come up with funny and entertaining things to post that will make readers like me when I do have something to offer. For example, I’ve started putting funny quotes that I say onto photos and sharing them.

Kristen - Even marketing yourself can take a lot of effort. So it's great that you've started now and are trying to show future readers who you are as a person. 

What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you?

Allie May - I love using social media to market. I’m a total introvert, and I hate talking about myself, but social media has really been a great way for me to connect with other writers and readers. I love Facebook because it’s easy and I already know how to do it, but I’ve also *reluctantly* started to see the value in Twitter.

Kristen - It's a lot of time to build connections, so it's great that you're enjoying the process and getting out there and meeting people. Everything's easier if you find pleasure in it. 

Thank you for letting me interview you, and I can't wait to see Powerful published!

I am Allie May, fantasy author and mother of the world’s cutest dog. I run the blog, Hypergraphia. Hypergraphia means the overwhelming and uncontrollable impulse to write, and I combat it by writing fantasy novels and blogging twice a week. When I’m not writing or working, I’m usually at Disneyland. I’m currently editing my novel, Powerful, while working on another novel that I started when I was twelve called A Fairy’s Tale. On the weekends, you might catch a glimpse of me in the shadows as a lightsaber-wielding superhero. Maybe.

Don't forget to check out Alyson on all her social media!

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Keep up with Alyson on her blog!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Author Interview with Sue Seabury!

Let's welcome YA author Sue Seabury!

Kristen - Hi Sue! Thanks for dropping by. First questions of the day! How often do you write? Do you have a special time during the day to write?

Sue - I write every morning, and maybe snatch a few minutes later in the day to work on editing.

Kristen - Ah that's the opposite schedule from mine! I write late at night when everyone is sleeping. Though I do also try and snatch those precious moments during the day if there's a lull in activity.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

Sue - No. My preference is to finish a scene in one sitting, but that isn’t always possible.
Kristen - Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Sue - Computer. My handwriting is officially illegible.

Kristen - Mine too! Besides, it all needs to go on the computer eventually so I might as well save myself some time. Not to mention I type way faster than I write.

Where do your ideas come from?

Sue - Where don’t they come from? Anything I see, hear, etc is fair game. Look out. I’m collecting ideas from you right now.

Kristen - Eep, I'll be careful then. I knew there was a reason I made sure my socks were matching for this interview! 

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Sue - To be #1 on the NYT bestseller list . . . What? That’s not everyone’s ambition?

Kristen - Haha, I'm sure most writers at least hope that's in their future! I think if I made it anywhere near the top 10 I'd think it was a dream. 

Thank you so much for joining me today!

Sue Seabury enjoys travel, good food and great conversation. Since she doesn't often get to do any of these things, she writes about them in her books.

Follow her on Twitter.
Learn more about Sue on her blog.
Find her books on Amazon.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Interview with H.S. Cook

This month's interview is with H.S. Cook. First, a little bit about her.

Working in a world of logic and reason, while dreaming of one filled with magic, H.S. Cook lives between her scientific research and her fantasy writings. A molecular biologist by day, she finds ways to inject the magic of her worlds into daily life, making time to write. She is currently working on an epic fantasy series: The Blood King Chronicles.

On now to the interview.

Kristen - Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
H.S. - The first story I was given to read was a series of Wind in the Willows books. It was before I went to school, but they were not oversimplified. It was published as a box set of 9 books, so the individual books were short and easy to manage. I remember reading them and getting lost in the adventures of Rat, Mole, Badger and Mr. Toad. I loved those books so much, and they started my life of reading. I still have them today!
Kristen - I only remember reading one story from Wind in the Willows. So I at least know who people are talking about, though I didn't get to enjoy all the same adventures as you did. Mr. Toad is quite the character!

What was the first thing you remember writing?
H.S. - I am sure we had assignments before this, but the first thing I remember was a two-line story for school that had to start: ‘In the dark, damp basement…’ I do not remember it exactly, but in two lines I was eaten by a massive hairy spider.
Kristen - And later that night you probably wondered why you had nightmares! At least you managed to pack a riveting ending into two lines.  

What do your friends and family think of your writing?
H.S. - Generally, they are supportive. They understand that I need to write. I would like to say that they enjoy it, but that may be friends and family just being nice.

Kristen - What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
H.S. - I crossed out good/bad there because a review is an opinion, whether good or bad. I appreciate honest reviews. I do not care whether it is loved or hated – I cannot force people to like what I write. I only ask that they are honest and representative of your actual opinions.
Reviews left with an agenda, or jumping on the bandwagon, are not helpful to other readers or to the writer. They are a waste of space.

Kristen - Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
H.S. - Writers – Tolkien. He is my idol. Non-writer – Rosalind Franklin. She is one of my many idols in science and was vastly under-appreciated at the time. X-Ray Crystallography is vital to my current research!
Kristen - I'm so glad I got to learn more about you. And you're a Tolkien fan too! Thank you for answering some questions for me.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
By the Blood, may the Fates show mercy.
H.S. Cook

Check out her website!
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Interview with JR Creaden

This month's YA writer is JR Creaden! Let's jump right in.

Kristen - Did you have any ideas about being a writer that becoming a writer changed?

JR - Perhaps it was those summers spent in Maine reading Stephen King, but I imagined writing as a more solitary experience than it’s been for me. Instead, I’m involved with more writers than I ever dreamed possible—exchanging stories and tips, brainstorming, commiserating, researching. I talk to more writers everyday than I knew existed before.

Kristen - I was much the same way. I assumed writers holed up in caves and never spoke to anyone, but for me it has been a lot of interaction with other writers and discussing the craft and brainstorming. 

What do you do when Real Life intrudes on your writing?

JR - As in when the characters are too much like their real life counterparts? That’s happened a few times, but then I call up the facts and reorganize my thoughts. The characters are unrelated and from alien worlds that didn’t even coexist in the same time periods prior to coming aboard the ship (where the story begins in Re: Morse). Also, none of them had parents, so their core problems—personality or otherwise—have to be addressed by themselves. I am their author, not their parent.

Kristen - Do you have a favorite scene or line you’ve written?

JR - I do! The scene when Relativity’s crew performs a Vincil play, Renderings, for the cadets. I’ve been pressured quite a bit to drop the scene, but I’ve stuck to my guns. The play, which is not exactly “children-oriented” any more than Romeo and Juliet, and the character reactions to the play, are essential to the plot of the whole series.

As an educator and a parent, I believe it’s important for our literature to expand our familiarity with different media. Students of all ages are expected to read, perform, and engage with theater, and using theatrical performance within literature is a fantastic method to model a universal experience. 

Kristen - Tell us about your main character’s weaknesses. How do these affect the first book of your series?

JR - In Re: Morse, the main character, human Hugo Morse is plagued by self-doubt. While we don’t go into major detail about Hugo’s background, certain elements haunt him. Despite the utopian version of Earth he remembers, Hugo’s experiences were not so pleasant. His upbringing within the Syndicate, raised on space ships before being deposited at the Rodanbary Academy, was rather lonely. His fear of failure holds him back and puts everyone in danger.

Kristen - What do you want your tombstone to say?

JR - “Free Fertilizer ↓” I wrote a poem ages ago about my wishes for after death called “Bury Me Standing” all about how I’d like to be buried Bene Gesserit style—upright, wrapped in linens, with a fruit tree planted over me. It might sound morbid, but I have no qualms about death, about the function of my physical body after death. I can’t stand the idea of being put into a sealed box, where my matter is isolated from the Earth that sustained me. I want to give back.

Kristen - Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing! If you'd like to find out more about JR, follow any of the links below!

Check out her Website
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C:\Users\Jessica\Pictures\JR creaden.jpg
JR began her writing career as a child disgruntled with song lyrics. After some early success with poetry and essays, she spent decades distracted by songwriting and academia until her story dreams became too interesting to keep to herself. Re: Morse, the first book in JR’s YA scifi series Contact Files, will soon be ready for public consumption or vivisection. Her goal is to share stories that inspire readers to embrace cultural diversity, the promise of science, and the value of humor and imagination to build a future that’s more Star Trek and less 1984. When she’s not writing, JR enjoys exchanging “your mama” jokes with her children, floating in lakes, and slaying virtual dragons.

Friday, March 10, 2017

February Book Tree

And we're back with another book tree! Last month was slower than January, but still a good month in material. Out of 12 books, 9 of them made the tree list!

The month started off fast enough as I plowed through a series I started in January. I also devoured my first classic challenge book. After that, I hit a slow patch that had everything to do with attention span, other things calling my name, a crazy shift in weather(I am not kidding, mid-February we were getting 50-60 degrees in MICHIGAN), and a general restlessness.

It's not about the quantity though, it's about enjoying what you read, so a slow month by no mean equals a bad one! I'm sure as summer creeps closer it'll get even slower.

Top Row
(Five stars)
  • Where Carpets Fly - An Arabian flair brought this exotic story to life as restless teenager, Elina, moves to the big city in order to take magic lessons. A deeper mystery runs around some of her new acquaintances, but Elina doesn't have time to figure it out before a simple visit to see her father's ship lands her and her new friend, Kara, in danger. Swept up in events beyond their control, the girls soon find themselves in a foreign country that's ripe with turmoil. Disaster strikes and now it's up to Elina to save the day, but she won't be doing it alone.
  • Tower of Thorns - I've recently decided I need to catch up on series I've already started and after loving the first book of this series, there was no doubt that Tower of Thorns had to make it on my pile for February. Blackthorn is a healer recently freed from the worst of prisons. Her rescuer's conditions? That she must say yes to every request for aid and not leave the country he sends her to . . . for seven years!

    As a former mother, wife, and rebel who tried to gain justice for her murdered husband and son, plus the dozens of women harmed by the local warlord, Blackthorn's attempts landed her in that ghastly prison for a year and now that she's out the only thing she wants it justice in the form of the man's death. Being trapped for seven years by the deal that keeps her free is frustrating to the tenth degree.

    Grim, another resident of the prison of horrors, is also freed upon Blackthorn's request that his release be added to the deal. Both are fighting the nightmares of the past, both are a little less than personable, and both are some of the most real characters I've ever read. Their struggles, their personalities, their inner demons make them easy to relate to.

    In book 2, Blackthorn goes to the aid of a strange lady who tells a chilling tale of something stuck in a tower on an island covered in thorns. Whatever is in there cries from dawn to dusk, a sound so terrible that it brings people's worst memories to the forefront of their minds and causes both people and animals no short amount of terror often leading to depression and suicide. 

The lady believes that certain conditions are needed to enter the tower and eliminate the problem, and she needs Blackthorn to meet them. Meanwhile, Grim is fighting his own struggles as something comes a little close to home in bringing back horrible memories from his past. Add in an old friend of Blackthorn's who says the time is right to take down her old enemy, and you've got the recipe for a perfect novel!
  • The Ultimate Prince Charming - Book five in the series I couldn't stop once I started, this story took top prize. Though I enjoyed the whole series, one book had to walk away with favorite status and it was this one hands down.

    Prince George isn't like the other princes from Charming Academy, oh no, he's the ULTIMATE prince charming. After the death of his princess, George begins to see flaws in the system. Namely that there are any number of princesses who don't get rescued for whatever reason. These princesses sit, and wait, in their cursed situation either until they die(from old age or circumstances) or a random person rescues them.

    George rightly things this isn't something that should just be "okay" with everyone. He then makes it his personal mission to find as many of the Lost Princesses as he can and rescue them. What a guy! The fairies from the school try to throw a wrench in his plans by assigning him a new princess and trying to push for him to just save her and that's it. George, the prince of awesome, he's not about to be pushed around. So he does his own thing and begins the ultimate quest to do what no other prince has done before.

    Meanwhile, Leticia(the princess assigned to him) has lost her original prince and has no idea who's coming for her or if someone even is. But she's got two of the coolest dragons for company while she waits. 

Bottom Row
(Four stars)
  • Prince Charming's Search - This was book 3 in the Charming Academy series(the one I spam read). This followed the story of Clarissa and Jacobi on their Cinderella inspired tale. Really loved the twists given to Cinderella's half of the story.
  • Oliver Twist - I have a classic challenge this year for five books, and this is the one I finished first. Great read with lots of sarcasm and wit. There's this revealing insight into an unfamiliar world that was probably way too familiar at the time. It's easy to hate or love these characters in their turn as they're so deeply defined that you can't help feeling like they're real and wishing them good or ill.

    The climax at the end was really WOW and I read it twice, the second time aloud, so that I could really get the full effect of it. Great way to start off this challenge.

  • Becoming Prince Charming - Book 4 of the Charming Academy series brings us to Beauty and the Beast where the focus is more on the Beast than Beauty, an interesting twist in itself. Kaelan's unique curse has forced him to look like a Beast, but now it's trying to take over his mind as well.

    With only an old fairy and a handful of servants, Kaelan's wait for his recuser is fraught with inner battles and growing danger outside of the castle walls.

  • Ella Dethroned - A novella that leads into a series that takes place over a hundred years later. Very interesting beginning and did its job of making me want to read more. Powefully descriptive writing (and that cover!) that hooked me and did it quickly, not easy for a novella to do.

    Ella's on the run as after being removed from her throne by an enemy, her life is now in danger as the allegiance of everyone around her is shifting. Everyone except for one of her trusted guard who is determined to save her.

    The story follows their winter escape, the pursuit that follows, and Ella's discovery of what her role is now that she's no longer Luminary.
  • Prince Charming's Quest - The final book in the Prince Charming series. This brought the series to a satisfying end with the long awaited quest from the main character from the first book. Lucian's quest hasn't been easy. Of course, quests never are, but his has been extra difficult thanks to a dragon's grudge. While he battles through obstacles(and a lot of dragons), Moira's fighting off horrible nightmares that are a bit too real for comfort, and they don't want to let her go.

The only thing that could've made this book better is if it ended with the dissolution of the prince/princess match-up and quest system which seemed to put a lot of people in danger(even to the point of severe injury or death) and ran all over the lives of everyone in the quest's path without so much as an excuse me.
  • A Study in Scarlet - Book 3 in my classic challenge(we won't speak of the horror that was book 2). A Study in Scarlet was a quick read, but engrossing all the same. The first half is dedicated to Sherlock and Holmes meeting and then solving their first case together. The second half went back to show the motivation of the killer in a very indepth sense that was definitely interesting, though the tactic of pulling me away from the current storyline was not one I enjoyed. Since both stories were equally interesting, I'm not sure what I would've preferred, but it did feel like I was reading two separate stories that barely tied in to each other.

And that's how my February went! What was your favorite read of the month? Any good romances that went along with Valentine's Day?