Tag Archive: guest post


Guest Post: T.E. Carter

I don’t remember when I became interested in telling stories. I almost feel like it’s just part of my DNA. My earliest memories are of books, plays, movies, etc. When I was only three, my aunt and uncle took me to see my first Broadway show, and that resulted in my reenactment of the play for months to follow. I’ve always loved making things up, which is only generally acceptable in storytelling!

Growing up, writing was something I did for myself. I can’t say I ever really saw myself as a writer or that I ever believed I’d be an author, because I wasn’t writing for any reason because I had to do it. I needed to get all the ideas out of my head and onto paper.

When I first decided I wanted to do something with my writing, I wasn’t ready. I finished a novel and although I spent a significant amount of time on critique groups and editing, I didn’t have the ability yet to filter out feedback and so the novel was a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster of a story. It was five people’s different takes on how the story should go and as a result, it was beyond unwieldy. For someone who tends to write short, it’s kind of funny to me to see this 130K word monster on my hard drive.

From there, I continued to write but I wasn’t really sure what I envisioned that to mean for me personally. Writing was a compulsion, but publishing was just a fantasy. From time to time, I would submit something to a magazine or query an agent, but I felt like I was spinning my wheels and I wasn’t active enough to say that I was pursuing publication.

Eventually, I did take the leap – and I failed miserably. I’m not ashamed to admit it, because the end result was better writing and a stronger sense of what mattered to me as a writer. I’ve completed somewhere between 15 and 20 novels to date (because some were merged with others and some are in a questionable state of completeness, I do have a hard time settling on a real number with any accuracy). Of those, I queried five before my 2018 YA debut. One was the Frankenstein’s monster novel, because I was naïve! After that, it was almost 15 years before I tried again. When I started querying this time, I found varying levels of success. One novel yielded no results, two received a lot of partial requests and some small successes but nothing of any significance, and one actually got a number of requests but eventually, it was shelved because it didn’t resonate with anyone. By this point, my passion for writing had started to wane as well and I realized I’d become so focused on the wrong things. I didn’t love it anymore, and so I walked away from writing.

For several months, I wrote nothing down. I couldn’t even find that part of myself that drove me to tell stories. But sooner or later, it caught its spark again and while I wasn’t ready to start writing yet, I did find myself thinking more about ideas. After about a year, I began drafting some chapters and concepts. It wasn’t the same focused and determined writing I’d become accustomed to, but I had started to lose myself in words again and for that, I was grateful. It helped me to put the rest aside and a few months after that, I had decided that I would write because I needed to and publication would not be a part of my journey.

When I finished I STOP SOMEWHERE, I knew something was special about it. It was the first story I remembered writing with no strings attached. For the last few years, every word I’d written had carried with it the weight of the long-term and big picture approach. Was this marketable? Would an agent or publisher like it? Was it “good enough?” With this novel, though, I didn’t care about those things when drafting– because I had no intention of publishing it. Once it was done, however, I felt like maybe it was worth taking one last chance on my dreams. I told no one and I began the next steps toward that process, finally sending it out to a pool of agents in late February 2016.

In less than 24 hours, I already had a request and I signed with my agent just over a week later – after having a number of agents read and request. It was a whirlwind and then, I had an offer from a publisher in three weeks. I hadn’t expected such a quick turnaround since the content is dark and I know the book straddles a weird line between YA and adult fiction, so I wasn’t sure how it would work from a publisher’s standpoint. Clearly, I was wrong, though, and now I have another two titles contracted with the same publisher.

The biggest thing this taught me was not about following your dreams or persevering in the face of adversity, despite that being the takeaway to some degree. What this experience taught me was that passion needs to come first. When writing no longer held that same joy for me, I needed to walk away and I resolve to do that if it happens to me again in the future. I STOP SOMEWHERE was the result not of determination, but of reigniting my love for a story and my commitment to telling the story I wanted to tell regardless of outside feedback, publishing chances, or the likelihood of success. I also feel that my focus on writing for myself and for the pure love of it has allowed me to create something that resonates, far more than worrying about writing for approval.

As a result, I am prouder of this novel than of anything I’ve ever written previously. Not because it’s the one that yielded the most external success, but because it provided me with the most internal satisfaction and joy to create.

First autumn frost on Stinging Nettle leaves - France  -  -  -

Bio:

 

TE Carter was born in New England and has pretty much lived in New England her entire life (minus a few years in high school). She still lives in New England with her husband and their two cats. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found reading classic literature, playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge-watching baking competitions.

 

Social Links:

 

Website: http://tecarter.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tecarter7

Instagram: http://instagram.com/tecarterbooks

Facebook: http://facebook.com/tecarterbooks

 

Book Info:

 

I STOP SOMEWHERE

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan (North America – 2/27/18)

Simon & Schuster UK (UK – April 2018)

 

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

 

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

 

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

 

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

 

TE Carter’s stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture, but it makes you slow down and think about what it is to be human.

 

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29751533-i-stop-somewhere

Purchase Pages:

North America: http://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250124647

UK: http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/I-Stop-Somewhere/T-E-Carter/9781471167782

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Guest Post: Tom Doyle

Hey all, I’ve got a guest post for you today from an author who’s been on here once before. You can find that post here. I’ve read the first book in his War and Craft trilogy and enjoyed it enough to track down a copy for my younger cousin. So, that said, enjoy!

To Say Farewell: On Concluding a Trilogy

Three years ago, I found a lump on my throat while shaving. The timing seemed particularly perverse–after years of struggle, my first novel, American Craftsmen, would soon be published. The launch party for the book should’ve been one of the happiest moments in my life; instead, I had a growing certainty that my days were numbered. Within days of the party, my diagnosis and existential dread were confirmed: cancer, and it had spread to the lymph nodes in my neck.

For a child of the ‘70s like me, raised on terminal disease tear-jerkers like Brian’s Song, that should have been the beginning of the end of my story. I was ready to say my farewells.

Instead, somewhat to my embarrassment, a combination of Star Trek technology and medieval unpleasantness has cured me. By cured, I mean it’s now over 99% more likely that something other than that particular cancer will kill me. With whiplash force and the mildest touch of PTSD, I went from a rapidly narrowing horizon of time to a vista of many years.

What does this have to do with completing a trilogy about magician-soldiers and psychic spies? Plenty. When I was diagnosed, I’d already submitted the second book, The Left-Hand Way, to my editor. My only bucket list item wasn’t travel or a new experience; it was finishing book three, War and Craft. I had visions of writing to the very end, like Ulysses S. Grant with his memoirs as his throat cancer strangled him.

However, unlike what many former patients say, cancer didn’t so much change my worldview as reinforce my existing one. I’ve always had some awareness that my grip on life and creative work is tenuous and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Also, we’re a society of first impressions, but cancer reminded me that how we say good-bye can be just as important, particularly when good-bye is all that’s left.

If I have one new lesson from my cancer experience, it’s this: what a great gift it is to end things appropriately.

Other authors and fans seem to have issues with the problem of mortality. Readers worry that, like Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin will not finish his series before ill-health or age permanently intervenes. The response to those pestering Martin that “He’s not working for you” is more false than true. As Bob Dylan pointed out, whether we like it or not, we’ve all got to serve somebody. Or to rephrase in the starkest terms of the Game of Thrones worldview, all men must die is intrinsically connected to the idea that all men must serve. In the end, we all must serve the one true god whose name is Death. Those that tell Martin to take as much time as he likes may be enabling artistic failure.

On the other end of the spectrum, some readers don’t care about endings–they would rather a series continue forever. This tends to be an immersive style of reader, who simply wants more and more subcreation within the fictional world. But that’s never been my goal, mostly because, with the possible exception of Middle Earth and all its backstory and author’s notes, I don’t enjoy reading that sort of endless series. Instead, I’ve brought my story to the definite conclusion I wanted. I’ve left some room for reader imagination of what happens next in the craftspeople universe; readers don’t need me for that anymore. But the story this trilogy had to tell is done.

Knowing that the larger narrative would be a trilogy gave me a helpful framework and limit. What this meant structurally is that each of my novels has a standalone plot told from a different craftsperson’s point of view–that character being the one who changes the most in the course of the novel–but there’s also a set of trilogy arcs that I’ve brought to a full resolution. The trilogy structure also gave me a surprise. If there’s a main trilogy character–again, the character that changes the most over the course of the series–it’s not any of the main protagonists of the individual books. See if you can guess who I think that is.

For those readers who’d like to see more about the craftspeople, I offer the following: there’s no bar to me returning to that universe, particular for short excursions, and I’d enjoy chatting with you about various aspects of their world. Also, if I ever return to it in longer form, I think that future book will benefit from the pause.

So, ave atque vale, craftspeople. Hail and farewell. Thank you for being the unfinished business that tethered me to earth when it seemed I might be the one departing. Also, thank you, readers, for coming with me on these journeys, both the one in the books and the personal one I’ve just told you about.

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Tom Doyle is the author of a contemporary fantasy trilogy from Tor Books. In the first book, American Craftsmen, two modern magician-soldiers fight their way through the legacies of Poe and Hawthorne as they attempt to destroy an undying evil–and not kill each other first. In the sequel, The Left-Hand Way, the craftsmen are hunters and hunted in a global race to save humanity from a new occult threat out of America’s past. In the third book, War and Craft (Sept. 2017), it’s Armageddon in Shangri-La, and the end of the world as we know it.

Some of Tom’s award-winning short fiction is collected in The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories. He writes in a spooky turret in Washington, DC. You can find the text and audio of many of his stories on his website, http://www.tomdoylewriter.com.

Alright everyone, I’ve got something awesome for you today. It’s a guest post from Leslie Hauser, author of Chasing Eveline! Enjoy!

Chasing Eveline cover

A lot of the focus of Chasing Eveline has been on the musical aspect. But when I was writing it, an equally important idea I wanted to develop was that of fading memories. How does one cope with loss and then with the fact that after while, our memories begin to lose some of their shine. It’s like a double loss.

 

Last summer marked the ten-year anniversary of my aunt’s death. I’ll never forget the last time I saw her alive. My parents and I just finished a round of golf with my uncle. My aunt didn’t play golf, but on this particular afternoon, she met us at a restaurant near the course for drinks after the round. She sparkled. That’s what I remember. Her blond hair was especially golden that day, and her bright blue eyes danced in step with her laughter, accentuated by the bright blue paisley shirt she wore. Or was it a blue-checkered shirt? No, I think maybe it had a blue floral design.

 

You see, I can’t remember anymore.

 

I thought I’d never forget that day, but it’s happening little by little. As the years pass, the photo in my memory is dissolving, and details that were once so clear are fuzzy and even lost completely.  And that scares me. What if someday I lose that memory of my aunt entirely?

 

It’s this idea of how our memories fade that I wanted to explore with Ivy in Chasing Eveline .We are often so sure of ourselves, saying I’ll never forget this moment. But we have no control over that clarity. Time is ultimately in charge. Ivy’s mom has left her, and all she has are her memories. But after two years, the details in Ivy’s mental slideshow aren’t so sharp anymore, and it scares her. It’s frightening to feel ourselves losing that tight grip on pictures and people who were once so clear in our minds. And it’s especially scary when these people are family members.

 

For so many years, my aunt was part of our family gatherings and holiday celebrations. She colored the events with all of her quirks. She stuck her finger right through the center of the creamed corn dish every Christmas to see if it was hot enough to put on the table. Her sighs of “Oh, Leslie…” to me or “Oh Natalie…” to my cousin or “Oh Barry…” to my dad were part of the soundtrack to every gathering. And she always showed up with a girdlebuster pie for dessert.

 

Since she’s passed away, we still all gather for holidays and celebrations, but it’s not quite the same. The scene is a little less colorful. There’s laughter, but it sounds different. There is still a girdlebuster pie on the table, but it looks different. I put my finger in the creamed corn to test its readiness, but it’s not as funny. Everything just feels different without her there.

 

When a family member leaves—whether it’s death or disappearance—there’s a void that can’t be filled. You can try to substitute, but it’s never the same. The dynamic is irrevocably changed, and you’re forced to forge a new path. But how do you move on in this new direction yet still try to keep the past alive in your mind? It’s tough, and I think it’s one of the most difficult things about losing someone, particularly a family member. It’s definitely what Ivy is struggling with.

 

Luckily for Ivy, she has music—a passion she gained from her mom. Music helps Ivy latch on to the best parts of her mom while giving her a positive outlet for the pain that could so easily overwhelm her. It’s a much needed life vest for her as she navigates the murky waters of loss.

 

So even though Ivy and I may forget what shirts our loved ones wore in our memory snapshots and we may never feel completely at ease in our new worlds absent of those we love, we know the sparkle that emanated from them can never be taken by Time. And it’s that remembrance that helps us find enjoyment in the new paths in front of us.

Leslie Hauser author picture

Author Bio:

Leslie Hauser teaches middle school English and history. She is a Midwesterner at heart—born in Cincinnati, Ohio—but currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with her dog Mr. Darcy. She loves cupcakes, coffee, and most of all—music. Her debut YA novel CHASING EVELINE released July 11, 2017. Visit Leslie at www.lesliehauser.com or on Twitter at @lhauser27.

Guest Post Tarrah Anders

Hey all, I’ve got a guest post for you today from Tarrah Anders, the author of Frozen Over. Enjoy!

Hi! I’m Tarrah. A little background on me if we aren’t already acquainted:

I am a born and raised California girl, constant daydreamer, yet also a doer. My day job consists of managing subsidies for the homeless, and wrangling my toddler, step-daughter and husband into working together without utter chaos. Whereas my moonlighting gig is that writing some steamy words late into the night or randomly during the day.
I have a thing for monkeys, Scott Eastwood and guys with tattoos.

I’ve been writing since I was in middle school and throughout college. While it was a passion, I kept it under wraps and never vocalized or followed through with my desire to be a writer, until I read a horrible book and thought: ‘I could do better than that!’ And so I did.

I start out by writing the first chapter or few pages; I get my hook in there and then branch out from there. I’m an in-betweener – not a full on pantser or outliner – but I operate on the edge of both. Sometimes, I will sit and write for an entire day or sometimes I will go days without writing, those days drive me insane.

My writing style is that I try to keep on earth. I try my best to not be too unrealistic with my characters, what they do and how they live. I want my books to be relatable and not to create too many eye rolls, like when a character starts calling his love interest baby after knowing her for 5 minutes.  I mean c’mon – I’ve been married for almost six years and I still never call my husband “baby”!

I kept my writing romance from my husband for nearly two years, but finally told him because… royalties and taxes. He immediately tried to skip forward to any steamy scenes, then referred to the moment as in Lethal Weapon 4. My husband and I have a fun relationship, we’re both very sarcastic people and well, I was nervous to tell him that I moonlight in the romance author area purely due to him teasing me for reading the books in the first place. He now sporadically asks questions, but still manages to poke fun at me.

I’ve written and self-published 4 books and one novella (coming March 14th). They’re all dual point of view aside from the novella. Thematically, the novels are friends to lovers, random hook-ups and office romances mixed with a whole lot of fun in the middle.

So this brings me to my current book that is out. It’s titled: Frozen Over. It’s storyline is about a normal girl, who struggles to make ends meet with two jobs, and catching the attention of the owner of a modeling job she’s working on. While he struggles with his past, she makes his gooey warm center ooze and turns him from playboy to devoted boyfriend. There are of course obstacles and things trying to tear them apart, but they do reach their Happily Ever After. Tyson is your standard cocky playboy who doesn’t care for anyone’s feelings aside his own or those close to him, who is the CEO of a once dying fashion company. Allison is your standard girl, who works two jobs to take care of herself and have a roof over her head. She enters Tyson’s world and everything gets turned around.
I set out with the intention of making Frozen Over as a standalone, yet due to several requests I’m creating a spin off to go into two other characters stories.  I’m currently in the process of getting my fingers to work magic on the keyboard and make sense on the screen, with the hopes of having it out by the end of the summer.

It’s now in print right? So I have to get my butt moving!

The Bad Boy Bargain Tour Banner.png

Hello everyone. I’ve got a guest post or from the author of The Bad Boy Bargain. This is actually part of a blog tour, so if you’re interested, check out the other blogs on the tour. Enjoy!

the-bad-boy-bargain-cover

How a Song Launched an Entire Book

 

I find inspiration for books in a lot of places, but The Bad Boy Bargain was probably the most unusual. Last year, when she heard “Please” by Sawyer Fredericks (from The Voice), my editor, Heather Howland, had an idea for a new YA romance. She posted her thoughts on Twitter—shy guy with a tough shell—and said she wished someone would write it. When I asked when she wanted the manuscript, teasing but also dead serious, we started plotting.

 

“Please” tells the story of a young man who’s found a near-perfect girl, one he thinks he loves, but he’s lying to her at the same time. He’s scared to tell this near-perfect girl the truth about himself because he’s worried she’ll let him go. It’s a song about love and fear, giving and selfishness, longing and despair. All those themes show up in The Bad Boy Bargain, which lends some extra complexity to Kyle beyond the typical bad boy. He’s a guy full of secrets, pain, and shame, but he reallywants someone to see through all of that and love the true Kyle. The working title of the book was called Keeping Faith—because he wants to keep Faith, but needs more faith in himself.

 

As for Faith herself, she’s been mistreated by one guy and has some reservations about being hurt again. The difference between Faith and Kyle is that she’s willing to continue to look for The One even though she’s been burned. She believes in true love, acting with kindness, and being her real self. She suffers from a lack of confidence and self doubt, and Kyle helps her get past that, especially when she struggles with a dance partner who refuses to do his part. Having him in her life restores her faith in love, and in herself.

 

Overall, this story is about two people finding each other and connecting in a way that allows them to be true with each other.

Guest Post Kate Forest

Alright everybody, I’ve got a guest post for you today from Kate forest, the author of Interior Design and Other Emotions and Grounded. With NaNoWriMo going on, what she’s talking about is near and dear to my heart.

Writer’s Block? No, Writer’s Despair.

Generally, when I am finishing up a first draft I panic. Without a clear idea of what to write next, I decide that it’s time to throw in the towel, give up my writing life. I call my critique partner, Veronica Forand, and moan, “I have no more ideas. I don’t think I’ll write again. This is my last book.” Her response is usually to mumble something encouraging or tell me to shut up because I said that last time. (She really is supportive in some ways. There’s a reason I keep her around.)

But no, I insist. This is really it. I’m blank. Nothing is coming to mind. Oh, wait. I’ve got an idea. How about a story in which a woman touches a magical stone and goes back in time to Scotland? No, that’s been done. Ooh, here’s one. How about a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, only it will be in diary form. Ok, never mind.

But then this happens. On a rare day, I will get a decent night’s sleep. Not a measly 7 hours interrupted by a trip to the bathroom and the sound of the dog vomiting outside the bedroom door. I mean a gooood night’s sleep. One the ends when the alarm chimes, I stretch, gaze out the window at the sun just peeking above the trees, and smile. No cricks in my middle aged body and plenty of time to get everyone ready for school. And then BLAMO!

A pair of characters appears in my head. They are completely formed and I know exactly why they can never be together, but why they must fall in love and find some way of overcoming their personal and relational obstacles.

Sure, I have no idea what their plot is. Where and when will they live? What will the world and villains throw at them to keep them from their goals? Who the heck knows? That’s a problem to hash out with my critique partners. In that moment, I need to write pages and pages of notes as the ideas pour out.

Of course, by that time, there isn’t plenty of time to get everyone ready for school and the morning seems less serene. But my heart is filled with confidence and hope.  And with those tools, I can do anything. Even write another book.

Guest Post Kathy Clark

So, I’ve got a guest post for you all. Kathy Clark is one half of Bob Kat, the writing team for Not My Life, and she’s got a bit about how they decided to do a time travel series.

NOT MY LIFE, the 5th book in the Time Shifters YA time travel/romance/mystery series will be released on October 18th.  Nothing is as it seems and everyone has a story that needs to be heard.  Our teens travel back to either vindicate or convict their old friend, Dan Denucci.  But the man with a medical degree, a beautiful wife, and a young son is very different from the sad, homeless guy who lives under the pier on Fort Myers Beach, FL.  Who is the real Dan and what did he do to lose everything?

 

Of all the concepts (or tropes), I think time travel would be the most amazing adventure.  You can have the trips to Mars or an excursion down to the Titanic.  Give me a trip to the late 1800s any day to see what the Old West was really like.  Or the early 1800s in Ireland before my family left to come to the U.S.  Or even back to the 1960s just because I love the Beatles.  The hardest part of the trip would be deciding where and when to go first.

 

Where would you go if you could travel back in time?  Who would you want to meet?  What historical event would you like to witness?  What era’s pop culture, fashion and music would you like to experience?

 

That was the idea that sparked our Young Adult series TIME SHIFTERS.  How would it be for four teenagers to be able to go back and see how average people lived, and, along the way, experience the feelings and textures of different times and places?  What kind of challenge would it be for them to do without things they thought they couldn’t live without while having to deal with issues (such as no electricity, different currency, and child labor) that they’ve never thought about?

 

Bob and I have had over forty books published (as Kathy Clark and as Bob Kat), but most were written for adults…about adults.  Writing a YA presented new outlooks on everything from friendship to romance to problem solving.  Obviously, a sixteen-year-old is going to react differently to almost everything than an adult would.

 

And even though dragons and witches and vampires are very popular, we wanted our teens to be real.  No magic spells or mythical creatures save them.  Instead, they have to deal with their issues using only their own ingenuity, creativity, and the friendship they share.  Plus, we wanted our young readers to “accidentally” learn a little about history and what was normal back then as compared to now.

 

My favorite books when I was growing up were Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew mysteries, as well as Agatha Christie and Mary Stewart.  We wanted our teenagers to be 21st Century versions of the very interesting and intelligent characters from those famous novels.

 

Having never written a book with lead characters under the age of twenty-one, we were a little nervous about capturing the innocence, insecurities, and youthful logic of teenagers.  But the four characters we created became so real to us that we easily slipped into their heads and their hearts.  Their vulnerabilities and dreams are so pure and yet heart-breaking as they discover the cruelties of the real world.

 

Basically, this series allows Bob and me to do a little time travelling, too, as we go back to the memories of our own teenage years and hang out with our four new friends, Kelly, Austin, Scott, and Zoey as they learn how to love and live and survive in a world that’s not always kind.

 

Come along.  Whether you’re twelve or ninety-two, you’ll enjoy the trip.

 

Visit us at our website www.LoveRealityRomance.com or write us at Kathy@Nightwriter93.com.  We would love to hear where and when you think our teenagers should travel to in the next book.  Reviews are always appreciated.

 

 

Bob Kat loves to hear from their fans.  Write us at TheThrillOfSuspense@gmail.com and tell us where you’d like to have Kelly, Scott, Austin and Zoey travel to next.

Once, during a discussion with a fellow author (he was in his 40s) where upon discovering that he couldn’t cook, I asked, “Come on, not at all? Didn’t you ever watch your mom in the kitchen?”
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His response shocked me. He said, “In my household, dinner consisted of two things: a can opener and a microwave.”
 
Days later, I was still thinking about it and imagining what it’d be like to live off of nuked canned food. It’s sad. As a kid, he never had the chance to discover or create a relationship with living growing fruits and vegetables in their unprocessed form, but instead ate things like canned pasta, tinned meats, fruits in syrup, and vegetables in brine.
 
This got me thinking: what if I had a YA character whose mom was like that? Perhaps it was a single income, single parent household and she worked long hours (night shift) to support her family so there was no time to learn how to cook? Okay, now how can I up the stakes?
 
What if my hero, Kevin – I’ll make him a talented athlete – thought he was eating better than his mom’s cooking, but in reality, it wasn’t much better? So I thought, what would be worse? Well, what if all he ate every day (meals and snacks) were energy bars, powdered energy drinks, and energy gels (all with artificial imitation flavours)? Themes were developing quickly and I knew I had something here I wanted to explore further. I know people whose diets consist of a lot of powdered protein. Hell, I’ve tried dehydrated/crusty or chalky/chewy protein bars and drinks that left a strange coating in my mouth. They’re disgusting. This was also when something called Soylent, a greyish-beige drink hit the market. It was known to be consumed by video gamers as it apparently meets all the nutritional daily requirements. I’ve never tried it and there’s no way you’ll get me to either.
So how do I take this YA character and his diet and make it worse? That’s when the opening chapter came to me: Kevin fails a gym class food diary assignment and to keep his grades up, so he can score a hockey scholarship, Coach makes him take the cooking component in Domestic Tech for extra credit.
 
The horror! He has to take a cooking class! If his friends knew about this, they’d tease him badly. So now Kevin’s got a secret.
 
At the same time I was thinking about this idea, I’d been watching and reading stories that happened to have overweight girls in them and they all seemed similar: depressed, bullied or the bully, comic relief, or abused. Where was the story about a confident girl who didn’t think she needed to lose weight in order to feel good about herself? #bodypositive
 
Then I wondered, what if Kevin’s got a second secret he’s keeping from his friends:
 
He likes big breasts, hips and thighs in a society that only reveres big breasts. Everywhere we look, Hollywood, corporations, books, music, fashion, etc., play a massive part in shaping society’s mindset. It’s a barrage of messages, particularly to young people, telling them what to think, act and feel. You won’t be cool unless you use a particular product or wear a certain piece of clothing (sold in X store with limited sizes), or look a certain way. And Hollywood? I was wondering the other day what would have happened in the romantic teen comedy SHE’S ALL THAT if the geeky (so called) “unattractive” artist Laney remained who she was and didn’t get the cliché makeover and it was Zach who had to change, and it ended with them as a couple, but Laney was exactly how she appeared in Act I. 
 
At times, Kevin has a hard time expressing his feelings, finding the right words or trying to process what he’s experiencing, but that’s part of who he is and his quest to understand himself. Sure, it would have been more fun to have him spout poetry like other guys in YA romances, but that would ring false. Falling in love is new to him and knowing that Claire is unacceptable to his peers places his world on shaky ground. If Kevin were an adult with a wealth of experience, I’m sure the novel would go something like this: Shut your face, I’m in love with Claire, I don’t care what you think. The End. But it’s not.
 

Writing the scenes with Kevin and Claire were a lot of fun. I really dug their energy and positivity. I have no clue if I’ll ever write another romance, but I’m glad this one happened and I hope I get to experience this much joy in the future. 

 

So, one of the reviews I have coming up is for the first book in Eliza Green’s Exilon 5 trilogy. She’s been excellent to work with. Enjoy!

It’s 2163 and the Earth has become uninhabitable due to overcrowding and poor air quality. Medical interventions mean people can live longer and genetic manipulation clinics provided by the World Government allow the population to look good while doing it. In the beginning, clean green policies were high on the World Government’s agenda until industries began to create their own energy. Not one to miss an opportunity to earn a little cash, the World Government swiftly taxed clean fuel until industries fell back into old habits of relying on cheaper alternatives, like fossil fuels. With 20 million people presently living on Earth, the planet is bursting at the seams. Increased investment in space exploration has allowed the World Government to search for a suitable exoplanet to live on. They finally discover Exilon 5.

 

When I wrote Becoming Human, there were a lot of things I had to get right. How much would the population realistically increase by in 150 years? How long would it take to reach a new planet? How would they get there? What would they find on the new planet?

 

Earth’s decimation was easy to write. Air pollution close to the scale in my story is already happening in Beijing. In my future Earth, people must wear gel masks to help them breathe. The sun’s diminished access to the planet has cooled the planet’s surface and temperatures struggle to climb above a few degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit during the day. Overcrowding is already happening in countries like Africa, India, and China. Access to resources is at a low for the majority of the population. In Becoming Human’s Earth, food farms no longer exist, land belongs to the wealthy and food replicators keep the rest of the population fed.

 

I created Exilon 5 in the image of twentieth century Earth when air was cleaner—well, cleaner than the Earth in Becoming Human—and when technology had not yet invaded our lives. In Becoming Human, the population of Earth relies on virtual assistants, virtual worlds and genetic manipulation clinics to help them cope with everyday life. And when they’re ready to die, termination clinics are at hand. It’s a bleak world they live in and Exilon 5 is everything that used to be great about Earth. But the discovery of a race already living on Exilon 5 causes tensions.

 

There is an alien race that lives on Exilon 5. Known as Indigenes, they differ greatly from humans in appearance. Their skin is hairless and almost translucent in appearance. They need lower concentrations of oxygen to breathe safely. Exilon 5’s atmosphere caters for their needs.  When humans arrive on Exilon 5 they terraform the planet to alter the atmosphere. Their actions drive the Indigenes underground where they live today.

 

Becoming Human is a story about the humans and the Indigenes and what happens when they’re forced to share a world. Who will reign supreme or will they live in harmony?

It’s been awhile since I posted last, but I’m back again with a guest post by Farah Oomerbhoy, the author of The Last of the Firedrakes. I’ve got a couple reviews on the back burner, so those should turn up sometime in the next week or so. Happy reading!

● Favorite Authors – J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling, Enid Blyton, Jane Austen, Diana Gabaldon, Ursula K. Le Guin, Tamora Pierce, David Eddings, Louisa May Alcott, Sarah J. Maas, John Green, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
● Favorite Books – The Lord of the Rings, Gone with the Wind, The Hobbit, Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia series, Outlander, The Earthsea Quartet, The Song of the Lioness, The Belgariad, The Ruby Knight, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, The Magic Faraway Tree, Throne of Glass, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Mists of Avalon.
● Favorite Literary Characters – Gandalf, Belgarath (from The Belgariad), Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, Mr. Darcy, Aslan, Aragon, Arwen Evenstar, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter.
● Things That Inspire You – Nature, art, authors, books, history, and mythology.
● Books You Are Dying to Read – Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass Book 4), A Court of Thorns and Roses, and Truthwitch.
● Books That Made You Want To Become A Writer – Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings series.
● Pieces of Advice you have for aspiring writers. – Keep reading and write every day even if it’s just a paragraph you will never use.
● Places You Would Most Want to Travel To – Egypt
● Favorite Snacks – Nutella, caramel popcorn, crispy crème doughnuts, and chocolate chip cookies.
● Favorite Movies/TV Shows – Gone with the Wind, Game of Thrones, MasterChef Australia, Merlin, Once Upon a Time.
● Places you would consider paradise – Maldives, the French Riviera.
● Things that bring a smile to your face – my children.
● Places you’d like to take your laptop to and write. An old manor house in the English countryside.
● Books you’d like to rewrite the ending to – Gone with the Wind
● Favorite desserts – Tiramisu, profiteroles, ice cream sundae, and chocolate cake with cream.
● Your favorite cities? Favorite cities: London, Paris, New York.
● Words that describe yourself? Shy, introvert, calm, dreamer, bookish.
● Pieces of advice you would tell the “teen” you. – study what you love.
● Games you like to play – Scrabble, Monopoly, Bakery Story, Hay Day, and online poker.
● Movie you watch over and over again – Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter, Titanic, Superman, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Lord of the Rings (all three movies).
● Favorite series – Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, The Belgariad, Throne of Glass.
● Stand-alone books – Gone with the Wind, The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Pride and Prejudice.
About the Author:
For Farah Oomerbhoy, writing is a passion and reading her solace. She is a firm believer in the fantastic and magical, and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest.
Farah lives with her husband and three children in their family home in Mumbai, India. She has a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai. Her first novel is The Last of the Firedrakes, Book 1 of the Avalonia Chronicles.
Connect with Farah:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Wattpad

About the Book:

The Last of the Firedrakes, book one of The Avalonia Chronicles.

A fantastic adventure story that will transport you to a dazzling world of myth and magic.

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

Purchase:
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Award-Winning Finalist in the Best Cover Design: Fiction category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards

Winner in the Collector’s Dream category of the Wattpad’s 2015 The Wattys Awards

“…the narrative components echo the classics; the Academy of Magic at Evolon could be Hogwarts, while the Shadow Guards are reminiscent of Tolkien’s Ring Wraiths or Rowling’s Dementors…a beautifully drawn fantasy world.” – Kirkus Reviews

“THE LAST OF THE FIREDRAKES is a magic-filled romp that carries you back to the fantasy stories of childhood…Lovers of classic fantasy will likewise gobble down Oomerbhoy’s scrumptious story.” – Dr Vic James, author of the SLAVEDAYS trilogy

“The world building is beautiful…..That really made the book more complex for me……it is the journey of discovery for Aurora and the reader that makes this an interesting story.” – Janelle Fila for Readers’ Favorite

“The Last of the Firedrakes has all the elements of popular fantasy – an orphaned princess, Magical powers, an alternate sphere with seven kingdoms, a young girl with a destiny to fulfil. They are all elements of the Narnia Chronicles, The Faraway tree, The Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings and a bit of Enid Blyton fun.” – Mitali Parekh for Mid-Day newspaper