Author Corner–Jenniffer Wardell

Author Jenniffer Wardell came to visit me today and talk about her new book.

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Bippity, boppity, boo!

E: Jenniffer, welcome to Erindipity. Did you bring me a present?

J: I was going to bring you champagne wishes and caviar dreams, but UPS sent the shipment to the wrong address and I’m still trying to sort that out.

E: You’re book, Fairy Godmothers, Inc., just came out a few months ago. What can you tell us about it?

J: It’s what happens when you try to take something like “Cinderella” and make it work in the real world. Kate is just like any other working woman, except she’s got a wand and a pair of fairy wings on her back. And, of course, it’s not as easy falling in love with Prince Charming as some people think.

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E: What gave you the idea to write it?

J: I’ve always wondered about fairy godmothers. What on earth made them decide to dress up and hunt down poor ragged serving girls who desperately wanted to go to parties? After awhile, I decided that the answer was probably money.

E: You had a lot of neat promotional things you did when the book launched. What things did you do to get the word out and how has your publisher helped you to do it?

J: I’m a complete loss at marketing, but the dear PR people at Jolly Fish are trying to help me get myself out there more. As for ideas, I love imagining that pieces of text from the world of “Fairy Godmothers, Inc.” (like a press statement from the company on my blog) have leaked into this one.

E: Do you have any upcoming events, book signings, etc?

J: I’ve got a book signing in Bountiful, Utah this December, and I’m currently in the process of working out a few things for some Utah conventions.

E: Are you working on any new projects?

J: My next book, “Beast Charming,” is coming out in 2014, and I’m currently at work on a riff on “Sleeping Beauty.” The working title for that one is “Dreamless,” but who knows if that will last?

E: What book is out there that when you read it, you said, “Man, I wish I had written this”?

J: Anything from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. The man is a genius, and a hilarious one at that.

E: If you could be remembered for the rest of history for one quote, what would it be?

J: Honestly, I’d rather have everyone pick their own – it’s more fun that way.

You can also find Jenniffer on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Author Corner–Lehua Parker

Today, Lehua Parker stopped by to chat with me about her Middle Grade/Young Adult series and to have some drinks.

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This is Lehua. Everyone say “Hi.”

E: Aloha, Lehua!  Welcome to Erindipity.  I made us up some fruity drinks with those little paper umbrellas in them.

L:  Howzit, Erin! They look delicious, but I better stick with Diet Coke. My editorial team has hot flashes if I use the word hell in a manuscript.  In book two, I described something as smelling like a lime margarita which immediately got nixed since “12 year olds wouldn’t know what that smells like.” But hand me an orangey-yellow umbrella and a pineapple wedge. I’ll pop them into my drink and try to keep them out of my nose as I sip.

E: You’re writing the Niuhi Shark Saga.  The first book is One Boy, No Water.  What can you tell us about it?

L:  The Niuhi Shark Saga is a middle grade/young adult speculative fiction series set in contemporary Hawaii. In the beginning of the series, Zader is eleven. He was found abandoned on the reef as an infant and raised by a loving, but unsuspecting Hawaiian family. Uncle Kahana knows that Zader is Niuhi, a shark in human form, and tries to protect him and those around him by saying Zader is allergic to water. Can you imagine living in tropical rainforest near the beach but unable to get wet? For an island kid that’s impossible.

On the surface, One Boy, No Water is about not fitting in and how you can’t always hide or run away from problems. Zader eventually faces the bullies and his troubling dreams and it’s that action that first begins to trigger his shark nature. Book 2 is called One Shark, No Swim and it chronicles Zader’s discovery of his Niuhi nature and brings him to the attention of Kalei, the reason his mother hid him among humans. In Book 3, tentatively titled One Truth, No Lie, Zader knows what he is and discovers all the whys and tries to protect his human family. Oh, and that’s in addition to doing well in a private school so he’ll keep his scholarship, dealing with a brother who’s now girl crazy, Uncle Kahana’s heart attack, caring for a dog that isn’t a dog, and forging a relationship with a sister he thought was imaginary. The mythical storylines are woven through typical island kid adventures and challenges with friends, family, and growing up.

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E: The next book in the series is coming out soon.  What is the name of it and when can we get it?

L: Book 2 is called One Shark, No Swim and will be available in eBook, trade paperback , and hardback September 21, 2013. It’s published by Jolly Fish Press and can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  or from boutique bookstores in Hawaii and Utah.

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E: What inspired you to write this series?

L: Since I grew up in Hawaii, some of the things are easy to spot; most island kids study karate/lua, dance hula, fly stunt kites, surf, go to Summer Fun, play in tide pools, and eat shave ice. But the heart of the story comes from a movie I watched when I was seven years old.

Sprawled on the cool, polished cement floor in Kahului Elementary School’s cafeteria, all my second grade friends and I were excited about movie day. This year’s movie was from the Legends of Hawaii series. When it first began, we immediately started tittering about the half-naked ancient Hawaiian kids running around on screen. But a few minutes later no one cared that people’s okoles were hanging out because we got sucked into the story about a group of boys a little older than us who went swimming and fishing together. Mysteriously, one by one they started disappearing, never to be seen again. Finally an elder says it has to be a shark.

As seven year olds we lived in the ocean all weekend long and this was before Jaws. We knew we had to watch out for jellyfish and big waves, but we rarely heard about sharks. The idea that our playground could be deadly was new and unnerving. 

In the movie, the adults worry and try to keep an eye on the boys, but BAM! One minute a boy’s picking seaweed and the next, he’s gone! There doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do until finally someone rips the cloak off the shoulders of a boy to reveal a gapping shark’s mouth where his back should be.

“Aiyah!” we all screamed, “It’s him! He’s a shark!

Talk about the stuff of nightmares!

Over decades, parts of the story would drift through my mind and I would realize some important things that I missed as a kid, like the idea that the shark-boy’s parents kept this secret hidden his entire life. Think about that for a moment. He always wore a cloak while everybody else was running around in loin cloths. How could people have missed this? Another big idea was that the shark-boy was eating people he knew. His friends were disappearing, not random strangers.

It made my head spin.

Eventually, all the answers to the why, how, and what if questions I asked myself about this ancient Hawaiian legend twisted and turned into the Niuhi Shark Saga. Zader’s story is not a retelling of this legend, but the idea that danger could hide in plain sight and be hidden even from itself all began one humid afternoon in a cafeteria on Maui.

E: You’re originally from Hawaii.  How is island life different from living on the mainland?  Aside from that whole not being surrounded by gorgeous beaches and all.

L: I live in the high desert mountains of Utah where snow doesn’t come with fruit-flavored syrup from October to May. Even after twenty years, the cold is hard for me. I’m always under-dressed and freezing because it still doesn’t occur to me to wear shoes and a jacket. After the cold, like all Hawaiians, it’s all about missing the food, the ocean, the people, and the music.

E: In terms of YA literature, what areas do you think are being underrepresented and is your series helping to fill in any of those gaps?

L: If you look at the book shelves for middle grade fiction, there’re a lot of stories where the adults are stupid and the kids are smart and the plots are mostly about how the kids save the day. Parents are dysfunctional, abusive, or absent. I try to write stories where the family is a strength that unites against outside forces. Zader’s family has his back one hundred percent. However it’s his desire to protect them and his 12 year old understanding of the world that complicates things.

E: Do you have an idea of how many books will be in the series, or are you seeing where the stories take you?

L: My contract with Jolly Fish Press is for five books and I have a five book arc in my head. However, the Niuhi Shark Saga is only a small part of a very complex multi-generational story, and is the only part appropriate for a middle grade/young adult audience. I’ve written some novellas and side stories for adults about events in this world that affect Zader, but aren’t about him. I’m self-publishing these pieces as I have time. Book 3 is due to my editor in January 2014. After it’s finished I may write more pieces of the series for adult readers and perhaps work on something entirely unrelated for a while.

E: What’s a piece of advice you would give a young person about writing?

L: Read. Read everything you can and find the stories that speak to you. Read classics, good fiction, mediocre fiction, and truly terrible fiction and learn how to tell the difference. Deconstruct movies, novels, and video games to understand how the story was put together and why that matters. Scribble, share what you write, and listen when critics say something isn’t working for them, but find your own solutions to the problems they raise because it’s your story and you know best how to fix it. Write because you love it, but get a degree because even though you’re the next JK Rowling, you’ll still have to make rent.

You can find Lehua on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her blog.

Recommend It Monday–The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

After I read “Written in Red” by Anne Bishop, I was inspired to reread the Black Jewels Trilogy by her (Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness).  I found them all in one volume several years ago and bought it.  And yes, I reread all three books since last week’s post.  That’s how much I love them.  There are a few more Black Jewels books after these three, but these are the ones I like to reread the most.  In fact, occasionally I will flip to the section in Heir to the Shadows where Jaenelle sets up the Dark Court because it gives me goosebumps and makes me teary.

I love how all of her characters are flawed.  The bad guys are really bad, and the good guys are damaged in some ways, simply flawed in others.  If I had to complain about something, I would say that it would be nice to see the bad guys with at least one good trait.  It’s way too easy to hate them.  A few glimmers of goodness in these vile people would have made hating them a little more interesting.  It’s also interesting to see how she treats the Matriarchal Society she sets up for the books because she shows how it can work and how it can go horribly wrong.

Bishop does a good job explaining the rules of the Realms before you get into the books.  She lists all of the jewel colors in descending order, explains how far one can move from the Birthright jewel to their mature jewel, and outlines the castes and how they relate to each other.  Everything else she explains as the story progresses.  She jumps ahead in time fairly often, sometimes by several years, and it can be a little confusing to keep those jumps straight, but it’s not impossible and it’s not a huge deal.  Most of the time it’s a pretty smooth jump.

She also tells the stories through several different perspectives, both human and Kindred.  She handles those really well and I like being able to get inside of several different characters to see how they’re experiencing things.  Since these are stories about the Blood, she doesn’t really get into the Landens at all.  Landens are the non-magical people who live in the realms with the Blood.  It would be interesting in a future book to get one from the Landen perspective.

So far, I haven’t read a series by Bishop that I haven’t enjoyed.

More Fundraising For AWP

Most of you know that I am the webmistress for the Indiana University-South Bend Creative Writing Club.  If you’ve not heard, we are trying to raise funds so we can attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference in late February 2014.  The conference changes cities every year, and this conference will be held in Seattle, Washington.

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AWP is a lot like the fortress in Krull. It’s constantly changing locations.

The money we raise will be to help us cover travel expenses and lodging.  We  held a fireworks fundraiser for the 4th of July holiday, but as anyone who lives in Northern Indiana can tell you, the weather refused to cooperate.  Now we’re starting a new fundraising event and you don’t have to live in Northern Indiana to help up out.

Brandy Bohm, Vice-President of the CWC, is holding a Perfectly Posh event from July 22nd until July 28th.  Perfectly Posh is a line of spa and pampering products that are not tested on animals.  Brandy is donating 100% of the proceeds to the AWP fund for the club.  There is a Facebook event page if you would like more information and you can go the the Perfectly Posh website to see their catalogue of products.  They make excellent gifts, as well.  If you are not local, Brandy will ship your orders to you.  This is a one week only event and every penny counts, so please consider pampering yourself or someone you love (or yourself and someone you love) and help this great group of writers attend this professional conference.  After the event closes, we will randomly select one person to receive an autographed copy of my book Celia from Rainstorm Press.  We will choose two other names to receive 3 Celia bookmarks.  They’re high quality and very shiny.  You’ll like them.  Celia has a 4.8 star rating on Amazon.

We appreciate all of your help.  And as a little added incentive, if we reach our goal as a result of this event, I will randomly select one person to be a character in my current work-in-progress, Enraptured.

Author Corner–Ann Marie Meyers

E: Welcome to Erindipity, Ann Marie! I do appreciate this rather large jug of rum. I do believe shenanigans are in my future.

AM:  Is that a bottle of Old Oak on the table next to you? Did you go to Trinidad without telling me?

E: You have a new book coming out. What is it called and what can you tell us about it?

AM: The book is entitled Up In The Air and it is a Middle Grade fantasy. It is about a girl called Melody who has dreamed of flying since forever! When she lands in the mystical realm of Chimeroan and gets the wings of her dreams, she thinks life is finally going her way. Yet, even with wings, Melody realizes she cannot outfly her past. The car accident that left her father paralyzed, and her unscarred, still plagues her; she believes it was her fault. In Chimeroan, Melody is forced to come to terms with her part in her father’s accident. She must choose between the two things that have become the world to her: keeping her wings or healing her father.

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E: I think you are the very first children’s author to visit me. I think perhaps Charlie scares most of them away. I mean, corpses aren’t really for kids. What’s it like writing for children?

AM:  It’s refreshing and exciting. I think of my daughter a lot when I write, and try to picture her reaction to my stories. At other times I find myself wondering if, and hoping that, my books will uplift kids in some way. I think that may be why I feel so passionate about the stories I write. It’s fun!!

E: You’ve got some events coming up. What can you tell us about them?

AM: My first launch will be in Trinidad (which is where I’m from). I’ll be reading in two bookstores and visiting a bunch of  libraries to speak with kids at summer camp. When I get back to Toronto I’ll have my launch here and several book signings and school visits.

E: According to your website, your initial audience was adult readers, but that you changed that once your daughter was born. How has becoming a mother influenced your writing beyond the shift in audience?

AM: That’s a very interesting question. Before my daughter was born I used to see advertisements in magazines asking for authors to submit manuscripts for children’s books. I was never tempted to even consider it. In fact, the very idea of writing a children’s book didn’t even penetrate my subconscious.

With the birth of my daughter, everything shifted. Not all at once, but gradually. I found myself wondering what kinds of stories would interest her. And then I started getting ideas for Picture Books (which, sad to say, I don’t have the knack for). But longer stories… now that’s my thing. Every idea I have now is for a children’s book, whether MG or YA.

E: Have you written anything for adults or are you focusing on children’s literature?

AM: Right now I am focusing only on children’s literature. And the strange thing is that the fantasy book I wrote for ‘adults’ (part of a trilogy) is in fact YA. I just didn’t know it at the time.

E: Are you currently working on anything?

AM: I am in the process of going over a YA book called Out of My Skin. This book is based in Trinidad and is a coming of age story set in 1969 and involves the folklore of my country.

E: Where can we purchase your book?

AM: Up In The Air can be purchased in bookstores and also on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.  

 

You can find Ann Marie on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Recommend It Monday–Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Yes, I know.  I’ve been remiss in doing RIM lately.  Mostly because I haven’t had a lot of time to sit and read something.  However, when taking my son to the library on Saturday, I saw there was a new Anne Bishop novel out.  I had to grab it.  And then I proceeded to devour it.

Written in Red is a new realm.  I love the Dark Jewels books and the Ephemera books, so I wasn’t too worried about starting this new series.  Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to more books in the series.  My only complaint about it was the location names.  More times than not, I found myself going, “Ugh.  Really?”  But that was my only real complaint.  Bishop has a way of making me invested in her characters.  I also liked her treatment of the usual “other” tropes: vampires, werewolves, etc.

This is more realistic fantasy than her other books, and I thought that was an interesting change for her.  If you’re not big on the usual fantasy books, consider giving this series a go.

Author Corner–JB Christopher

This week, new author JB Christopher stopped in to chat.  I don’t think Charlie trusts him.  I’ll admit, he does look a little shifty, but he’s good people.  Charlie will just have to get over it.

E: Welcome to Erindipity, JB.  I see you have brought me no food products.  That is…unfortunate.

JB: Erin thanks for the interview. Alas, I owe you a dozen Voodoo donuts and a six-pack of an IPA of your choosing.

E: You are in the process of publishing your first book.  What is it called and who is publishing it?

JB: The working title is The Last Fall; the publisher is Rainstorm Press.

E: What has the process been like for you so far?

JB: The process has been…slow, but that’s a good thing. It’s a necessary evil that, I think, has made me a better storyteller.  Writing is such a solitary craft, but great storytelling requires a relationship with an editor who understands and hopefully shares the vision with the writer.

E: Are you currently working on anything?

JB: I just finished the sequel to The Last Fall. It picks up with the protagonist Ruby Oliveras three years later and what he’s up to.

E: Do you have any upcoming events, such as book signings, etc?

JB: Unfortunately no. No upcoming events…yet. 

E: What is something you’ve learned during this process that surprised you?

JB: Treat your work with the highest level of professionalism that you can and don’t loose sight of the overall story.  

E: What is the last book you’ve read, and who are some of your favorite authors?

JB: Last book I read was A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. I love his use of a fictional slang/pidgin and his ideas about removing free will from society seem almost prophetic at times.  Some of my favorites are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Clive Barker, Neal Stephenson, Elmore Leonard, Denis Lehane, Jim Thompson, and of course, Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

E: If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to publish their first work, what would it be?

JB: Don’t give up. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig was rejected over 100 times before it found its way into a publishers open arms…so don’t give up.

The release date of The Last Fall is TBA, so make sure you check back here for when and where you can pick up your copy.  You can also find JB loitering on his website.