Wednesday, December 13, 2017

SKY IN THE DEEP by Adrienne Young

SKY IN THE DEEP doesn't debut until next year, but I'm so excited about the premise and story that I couldn't wait to feature it. In addition, Bustle just featured SKY IN THE DEEP as one of its 27 most anticipated YA Fantasy Books hitting shelves in 2018.

Seventeen-year-old Eelyn’s world is war. Raised to fight alongside her Aska clansmen in a generations-old blood feud against the Riki, her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki if she wants to make it back to the fjord after the thaw. But when she begins to see herself in the people she's been taught to hate, the world Eelyn once knew begins to crumble. And after the village is raided by a ruthless clan many believe to be a myth, Eelyn is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who has tried more than once to kill her. Together, they must end the blood feud between their clans or watch their people be slaughtered.

A lush, Viking-age inspired fantasy about loyalty, forgiveness, and the definition of family.

On to the FAQ page on your website, you said, "I didn’t pursue publication until I was 26 and it took several books and many, many rejections before I sold SKY IN THE DEEP." What kept you going through those many rejections, and how did you prioritize which projects to focus on? 

Honestly, I had to learn to let go of the first project that never sold. It was really hard because I'd put so much of myself into it and I'd learned how to write a book through that experience. I was really attached to it and it took a while to finally admit to myself that it was time to move on. I studied the market a lot more and made my best guess about what would work and which idea inspired me the most and that's how I decided where to go next. As far as perseverance in rejection, I'm fortunate enough to have people in my life that didn't let me lose sight of my dream. It's really easy to give up when you're facing so many obstacles, and I needed those voices around me pointing me in the right direction when it was most difficult.

Those voices are necessary--and I'm glad they were there. THE SKY IN THE DEEP is Viking-age inspired fantasy. What about the Viking age do you find most compelling, and in what ways does Eelyn find her place within that world? 

So, I'm a huge fan of history in general. There really isn't a culture or time period that doesn't interest me, but I do love the Viking culture for many reasons. I think they were culturally very rich and one of the things that are most compelling to me is the role of women in that society. I wouldn't say that women had equal rights, but they definitely had more than most of the women during that time in that region of the world. I find it fascinating. Eelyn finds a place in that world as a warrior, fighting right alongside the men of her clan. We also see female spiritual, community, and political leaders in this story and I love that.

Me too. And I love your monthly newsletter! How do you determine the kind of content that is included each month, and what do you recommend to writers wanting to start a mailing list? 

I am not really a fan of newsletters myself, so when I was developing the format, I tried to only include things that I would want to read. And I also try to keep things short and sweet! No need to ramble. If you're wanting to start your own, I say just be authentic. Be yourself and let it come through in your newsletter, but be sure to edit. Less is always more.

Indeed. What are some of your current projects?

Right now I am working on a companion novel to Sky in the Deep that I am really excited about! After that, there are a lot of ideas I want to get cracking on but they are all under wraps for now.


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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

ROYAL BASTARDS by Andrew Shvarts

Andrew Shvarts is an absolute delight. I met him at a recent author event, and when I found out that his book, ROYAL BASTARDS, was "The Breakfast Club meets Game of Thrones," I knew I had to snatch a copy immediately.

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

According to your website bio, you were born in the Soviet Union, but immigrated to the US when you were four years old. In what ways, if any, has this shaped your experience, and can you tell us about your journey toward becoming a published author? 

Interesting question! I think there certain elements of the immigrant experience that leave an indelible impression on your perspective, and that comes out in all my writing. I think there are certain themes I come back to a lot, like the illusory nature of home, the limits of ideologies, and ambiguity of the notion of nations and Kingdoms, that comes directly from that experience.

As for my journey, I always knew I wanted to be a writer, ever since I was a kid. When I graduated college, I was sure I'd be the next Stephen King, so I wrote a bunch of horror and scifi... none of which sold. My lucky break was when I got a job writing for a mobile videogame, Surviving High School. It was middle-grade comedy, so the opposite of what I used to, but I discovered I really liked it. That's how I got into writing YA, and a few years on the job, I gave fiction writing a try. After the usual struggles of publishing (one novel that went nowhere, another that died in submission), I got my big break with Royal Bastards!

I like how you said, "The usual struggles of publishing." It really helps those of us still on the journey. ROYAL BASTARDS has been described as Game of Thrones meets The Breakfast Club. How did the story come to you, and what do you hope readers will take away from it? 

ROYAL BASTARDS began as the combination of two different ideas that I was trying to get going. The first was a contemporary story about a group of very different teens who get framed for a murder and have to go on the run. The second was an attempt to do a truly YA version of Game of Thrones, with that series world-building and feuding Houses and backstabbing intrigue. The breakthrough came when I realized these were actually the same idea!

In terms of read takeaway, that's an interesting question. I hope readers have a great time and love the action and the humor (and maybe cry a little). More broadly, in terms of themes, I think ROYAL BASTARDS is about the moment in adolescence where you realize that your parents are not the perfect models you thought they were, that the values and beliefs you were brought up in might be flawed or even harmful. It's about challenging your upbringing and finding yourself as an individual.

Well said--and that's a journey that many of us, myself included, definitely identify with. And, I love the stories you tell. What is one of your favorite anecdotes?

Ha, thank you! I recently remembered a pretty good story about my favorite celebrity encounter. It was back in college, during a play. A buddy of mine went to the bathroom during intermission, and after using the toilet, he flushed it... and it started backing up, overflowing, the whole mess. My buddy decides, not his problem, and starts to leave the stall... only to run into none other than Tom Hanks walking in. Turns out he was on campus to give a talk and decided to catch a play. So my friend is just standing there, stunned, and Tom Hanks looks in and sees the overflowing toilet and says, "Were you really going to just leave that for the next person who came in?" And my friend sheepishly nods. So Tom Hanks goes in, gets the plunger, and plunges the toilet, all to my friend's deep shame. And as my friend is walking out, Tom yells, "You tell everyone! You tell them that Tom Hanks cleaned up your mess!"

Ha! That's awesome! And a good moral for us all. :) CITY OF BASTARDS, the sequel to ROYAL BASTARDS, will debut in 2018. Is there anything you can tell us about it yet? 

Ooooo, let's see. It's set in the city of Lightspire, the capital of the Kingdom, and is structurally almost more of a murder mystery. You'll get to see the heart of the Kingdom, and encounter shadowy cults, charming revolutionaries, and the creme de la creme of the nobility. Also, there's a masquerade and maybe the secret nature of magic. Maybe.



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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

AS YOU WISH by Chelsea Sedoti

AS YOU WISH doesn't come out until January, but I couldn't wait to feature it. I love Chelsea Sedoti's plots (as evidenced here) and this book promises to be yet another compelling read.

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.

In our last interview, you said, "My biggest priority is simply to be present." Is this still a priority for you, and in what ways do you try to attain it? 

I think being present—not just in writing, but in all areas of life—will always be important to me.

Being present can mean different things. It can mean being available to friends or family (or even aspiring writers who need words of advice.) It can mean being aware of the world around me, and open to whatever flows my way. So many of my ideas for books or characters come from random things I stumble on in daily life. Being present can also mean living in the moment instead of getting caught up in the past or present—something which has a tendency to trip me up.

So yes, I’d say being present is definitely still high on my priority list.

Mine too. And I love the premise of AS YOU WISH! In what ways do you think wishing complicates happiness and why?

In AS YOU WISH, wishes have a tendency to take a dark turn. It’s not that the wishes get twisted by an unseen power. Instead, people get exactly what they wanted: only to discover what they thought they wanted might not be what’s best for them after all.

Wishing allows people to achieve goals without ever working for them. It gives people power they might not be ready for. And, of course, making such a monumental decision like what your one wish will be at eighteen has consequences as people grow up and learn more about the world.

In the book, wishing can be a gift and a privilege. But sometimes it’s also a curse.

Very well put. If there was something you could tell your younger writing self, what would it be and why?

When I was much younger, I thought writing—well, any creative work, really—was based solely on talent. If you were talented you could become a writer. If you weren’t talented then oh well, too bad for you.

That’s absolutely untrue.

Talent only takes you so far. What really leads to success is being willing to put in a lot of time and effort. Hard work, persevering through rejection, continuing to believe in yourself when you don’t think anyone else believes in you… Those are the qualities that help you get ahead.

There are plenty of writers in the world who are so talented they’d put the rest of us to shame. But if they only rely on their talent, we might never read their books. I wish my younger self knew this. It would’ve saved me a lot of time agonizing about “not being talented enough.”

That helps us other writers too! If you could recommend three books besides your own that your readers would enjoy, what would they be? 

I love recommending books, and this past year I read several that I fell in love with. Here are a few of my favorites:

KAT AND MEG CONQUER THE WORLD by Anna Priemaza: A hilarious and heartbreaking contemporary YA about geeky gamer girls, friendship, and finding your place in the world.

THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS by Lauren Karcz: Magical realism about a girl who discovers a mysterious building where she’s able to create perfect works of art. (I wouldn’t mind finding a building like that in real life.)

LITTLE MONSTERS by Kara Thomas: A dark, twisty thriller about manipulation and obsession—with a creepy haunting thrown in for good measure.

Chelsea's books:


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Chelsea's recommendations:


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

THE SPEAKER, the second book in the Sea of Ink and Gold series, by Traci Chee

The Sea of Ink and Gold has to be one of my favorite series that's come out in the past few years, and it shows that YA Fantasy continues to break the boundaries of what's possible. THE SPEAKER is the second in the series, and like the first, it weaves together a beautiful narrative.


Having barely escaped the clutches of the Guard, Sefia and Archer are back on the run, slipping into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Haunted by painful memories, Archer struggles to overcome the trauma of his past with the impressors, whose cruelty plagues him whenever he closes his eyes. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally finds a way to combat his nightmares: by hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive.

With Sefia’s help, Archer travels across the kingdom of Deliene rescuing boys while she continues to investigate the mysterious Book and secrets it contains. But the more battles they fight, the more fights Archer craves, until his thirst for violence threatens to transform him from the gentle boy Sefia knows to a grim warrior with a cruel destiny. As Sefia begins to unravel the threads that connect Archer’s fate to her parents’ betrayal of the Guard so long ago, she and Archer must figure out a way to subvert the Guard’s plans before they are ensnared in a war that will pit kingdom against kingdom, leaving their future and the safety of the entire world hanging in the balance.


Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.

Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.


In our last interview, you said, "Part of what I love about THE READER is that the legendary and the magical are all sort of woven into the everyday fabric of the world, so you might find them anywhere." In what ways are you able to determine what your stories need?

I think determining what a story needs is a different process for everyone, but for me, I go with my gut. I feel like, over the years I’ve studied and practiced and written, I’ve developed this sense that tells me when something isn’t working, or when something needs a new approach, or when something should be there but isn’t yet. Don’t have the feeling yet? Don’t worry—I believe you will. I certainly didn’t always have this extra sense, but the more I work on my craft, the stronger it seems to get, and the more I trust myself to know what’s right (or not right) for a story.

That's definitely helpful! In THE SPEAKER we get to see a different side to Archer. What about his story was the most challenging to write and why? 

We get to know so much more about Archer in THE SPEAKER, as he tries to reconcile his past, his present, and his future. Like a lot of us, he’s figuring out who he is and who he wants to be… only that’s complicated by a history of violence (both perpetrated by and against him) and a prophecy about the boy he could become. For me, what was most challenging was writing his relationship to his traumatic past, because it’s so complex and so nuanced. It took me a lot of revision and a lot of great advice to pull that out of him, but ultimately I hope it makes him a flawed, nuanced, and fleshed-out character.

He certainly is. Anyone who pre-ordered THE SPEAKER from the following bookstores also received an inspirational notebook. In what ways do you feel inspirational notebooks can be helpful?

If you preordered THE SPEAKER through one of the independent bookstores listed on my website (http://tracichee.com/preorder), you received a custom journal emblazoned with a quote from the book: What is written comes to pass. As with the phrase “this is a book” in THE READER, this quote is repeated again and again in different contexts, changing meaning as the story goes on.

What I love about it in this context is that it makes the journal a perfect repository for all the goals, hopes, and dreams we might be scared to share anywhere else. What is written comes to pass is like a magical exhortation—if you write it, it will happen. If you allow yourself to wish it, it will come true. I think giving yourself permission to dream is HUGE. It’s the first step toward making those dreams a reality.

It is--and I'm already putting my notebook to good use.The third book in The Sea of Ink and Gold series comes out next year. Is there anything you can tell us about it yet? 

Let’s see… I can tell you that war is coming, a lot of people are going to die, and the title starts with “the” and ends with “-er”!



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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

ARS HISTORICA and WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS by Marie Brennan

I've met Marie Brennan a couple of times, most recently on a panel about worldbuilding. Not only is she scary smart, she's a brilliant author. In addition to Wilders, and The Onyx Court series, she has a new book of short stories out, entitled Ars Historica. Fans of  TheMemoirs of Lady Trent series can also get a hold of the last and final title, WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS. Have a look:





Kit Marlowe. Guy Fawkes. Ada Lovelace. Kings and sailors and sainted nuns populate these seven stories of historical fantasy by award-winning author Marie Brennan. They span the ages from the second century B.C.E. to the nineteenth century C.E., from ancient Persia to the London of the Onyx Court. Discover the secret histories, hear the stories that have never been told -- until now.


After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent--dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.


And yet--after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia--the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure--scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland's enemies--and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.



In a recent panel on worldbuilding, you mentioned that you've taught creative writing classes a few times. What, in your experience, do writers struggle most with and why?

It varies wildly from student to student, as you might expect. There's no single answer on a craft level; one person might be great at plot while another struggles to create tension and movement, or somebody might have beautiful prose while another's words are clunky and flat. Same thing goes for how they feel about their writing, the psychological side of things.

But if I go up one level of abstraction, I think I could say the most common problem I've encountered is difficulty seeing one's own work clearly. Because that can apply in multiple directions: one person is very insecure and convinced their stories aren't ready for the public eye, even though I'm urging them to start submitting, while another person loves everything they've done and has no interest in revision, even though I've pointed out a number of key flaws that really need fixing. Some people write the same basic story over and over again, insisting that tiny, cosmetic alterations mean this really is a very different tale. Others are determined to pursue a genre or tone they have no knack for, while ignoring the ease and flair with which they write something else entirely.

Objectivity is difficult to achieve -- maybe impossible. That's why we have teachers and beta readers and critique groups, to help give us a new perspective on our work. But that still requires you to sort through the advice you get and figure out which parts ring true, and that's much easier said than done.


Indeed it is! Your series, The Memoirs of Lady Trent follows Isabella, Lady Trent, a renowned dragon naturalist. What about Isabella was most fun to write?

Her voice. Hands-down.

I've never had a narrator's voice come to life for me that vividly, that fast. I was maybe two paragraphs into the first chapter of A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS when I knew exactly what she sounded like, and the voice carried me through all five books. There were times where I struggled with my plot or the underlying ideas of the story, but on the level of the prose, it was like all I had to do was sit for a moment and listen to her talk.

And it made me miss her when I finished the series. I've never felt quite so much like the protagonist of a story was a good friend, one who moved to another state when the story was done.


We love Lady Trent, and we are glad she is preserved in books we can read over and over again! On November 7, your ebook of short stories, Ars Historica, came out. I'm especially intrigued by the story involving Guy Fawkes. What about Guy Fawkes fascinates you most?

The fact that he's the one name everybody associates with the Gunpowder Plot -- but he wasn't actually the one behind it.The whole thing was spearheaded by a guy named Robin Catesby, but very few people remember him, because he wasn't the one found babysitting a pile of gunpowder underneath Westminster Palace. Catesby was a charismatic leader who gathered a whole pack of men to his cause, most of whom died for it in the end. I wound up being morbidly intrigued by the entire plot: what led these men to plan such an act of terrorism and murder, what they thought they would gain from it, etc.

What turned my curiosity into a story was the discovery that there was a Jesuit priest, Father Henry Garnet, who knew about the plan and opposed it, but kept it secret anyway. Because he heard about it when he took the confession of one of the conspirators, and under Catholic doctrine, he was spiritually prohibited from sharing that information without leave -- even though he knew they were planning mass murder. To me, the struggle Father Garnet went through was the most tragic part of the whole thing. And that wound up being my entry point into making this a story, rather than just a recap of history.


Fascinating! (And poor Father Garnet.) What are some of your current projects?

Normally my answer to this is just a single novel, which at the moment is a follow-up to the Memoirs of Lady Trent, concerning Lady Trent's granddaughter, black market antiquities smugglers, and the translation of an ancient epic.


But at the moment I'm involved with a whole lot of things: not just that novel but some freelance fiction writing for the game Legend of the Five Rings, freelance setting writing for the Tiny D6 game line, a Serial Box project whose details I can't reveal just yet, and a whole slew of possible future novels that are all currently hanging fire, waiting to discover which ones of them I will be doing when and in what order. Furthermore, I have an ongoing Patreon project, New Worlds, that explores different facets of worldbuilding. So it's busy times around here!


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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Supernatural Society series by Gail Carriger

I am a forever fan of Gail Carriger, evidenced by when I featured her here and here. She continually expands on the unique worlds she's built, and keeps on creating characters that many readers can't get enough of. Her latest book, ROMANCING THE WEREWOLF, is the second in her Supernatural Society series.

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Werewolf in trouble..

Biffy, newly minted Alpha of the London Pack, is not having a good Christmas. His Beta abandoned him, his werewolves object to his curtain choices, and someone keeps leaving babies on his doorstep.

Professor Randolph Lyall returns home to London after twenty years abroad, afraid of what he might find. With his pack in chaos and his Alpha in crisis, it will take all his Beta efficiency to set everything to rights. Perhaps, in the process, he may even determine how to mend his own heart.

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a charming gay love story set in her popular steampunk Parasolverse. Featuring the long-awaited reunion between everyone’s favorite quietly capable Beta and the werewolf Alpha dandy who let him slip away. This sweet romance is full of unexpected babysitting, holiday decorations, and no small amount of pining.

Delicate Sensibilities?
Contains men who love other men and have waited decades to do so.




Imogene Hale is a lowly parlourmaid with a soul-crushing secret. Seeking solace, she takes work at a local hive, only to fall desperately in love with the amazing lady inventor the vampires are keeping in the potting shed. Genevieve Lefoux is heartsick, lonely, and French. With culture, class, and the lady herself set against the match, can Imogene and her duster overcome all odds and win Genevieve's heart, or will the vampires suck both of them dry?

This is a stand-alone LBGTQ sweet romance set in Gail Carriger's Parasolverse, full of class prejudice, elusive equations, and paranormal creatures taking tea.

Delicate Sensibilities? This story contains women pleasing women and ladies who know what they want and pursue it, sometimes in exquisite detail.


In our last interview, you said you'd love for Rue, of Custard Protocol fame, to visit Peru or Japan. Are either of these possibilities part of Rue's future? 

While I am a professional liar (AKA fiction author) I try not to do it too much in interviews. So, yes!


Exciting! ROMANCING THE WEREWOLF is the second in the Supernatural Society series. If you could have lunch with one character from the Supernatural Society, who would it be and why? And what would you have for lunch? 

Oh, can't I choose both Biffy & Lyall (the main characters from RTW)? It would just be so very civilized. I'd join Lyall in eating a kipper and a fried egg for lunch. The best thing about kippers is they are good for any meal. We'd have them with, of course, a nice pot of tea. And then, because they are thoughtful werewolves, the boys would probably include some pudding they knew I loved, like trifle. Even though they don't eat such...erm...trifles. We would discuss food, and interior design, and fashion. It would be lovely.


I'd love to be a fly on the wall! In panels, I've heard you talk about "Clark Kenting" and suspending disbelief. When it is hardest for you to suspend disbelief in books that you read?  

Oh, that is an easy one. I often hit up against misuse of historical terminology or fashion or food in steampunk or alt history stuff. And I don't watch or engage with any shows or books that are likely to to do forensics. A lot of this touches on my previous areas of expertise and I just can't get away from them getting it WRONG. SO, for example, CSI is right out.


Makes sense. The third book in the Custard Protocol series, COMPETENCE, comes out next year, and is told from Primrose’s perspective. What, if anything, can you tell us about Primrose's story? 

Well, she has a very decided opinions on Rue and the activities of the Custard Protocol. But she is also Rue's BFF of many years so her concerns are tempered by much affection. Of course she has her own battle to fight, an overly interested lioness shifter being but one of many. And, of course, there is the great trial of being born with a particularly annoying twin brother.

ROMANCING THE WEREWOLF


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ROMANCING THE INVENTOR


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And be sure to check out Gail's other books:

Parasol Protectorate (5 books) 

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)     Changeless (Parasol Protectorate, #2)     Blameless (Parasol Protectorate, #3)      Heartless (Parasol Protectorate, #4)     Timeless (Parasol Protectorate, #5)

The Parasol Protectorate Manga (3 books)

Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 (The Parasol Protectorate Manga)    Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 2    Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 3

The Custard Protocol (2 books)

Prudence (The Custard Protocol, #1)     Imprudence (The Custard Protocol, #2)

Delightfully Deadly (1 books)


Poison or Protect (Delightfully Deadly, #1)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

THE MEMORY BOX and THE MONSTRUCTOR by Joanna Rowland

Joanna Rowland has a knack for writing the exact picture books that children and their parents need. Whether the subject is divided households, like in her book ALWAYS MOM, FOREVER DAD, fun monsters, or grief, readers of all ages can expect stories that are both entertaining and heartwarming.  Her latest books, THE MEMORY BOX, and the MONSTRUCTOR offer readers a perfect way to transition from October to November.

From the perspective of a young child, Joanna Rowland artfully describes what it is like to remember and grieve a loved one who has died. The child in the story creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one, to help in the grieving process. Heartfelt and comforting, The Memory Box will help children and adults talk about this very difficult topic together. The unique point of view allows the reader to imagine the loss of any they have loved - a friend, family member, or even a pet. A parent guide in the back includes expert information from a Christian perspective on helping children manage the complex and difficult emotions they feel when they lose someone they love, as well as suggestions on how to create their own memory box.









Naughty Monsters. Have they forgot? To learn their manners they must be taught. Little monsters are acting like humans at school. Oh no! Their teacher gets the Monstructor to come in a save the day.









In our last interview, you said that you send yourself away for a weekend once a year. Is this still true, and what other ways do you refill your creative well when it runs dry?

I haven’t gone away by myself recently. But I do try to take a retreat with a few writers.  The last time I did that, everyone from that retreat sold what they were working on. I can only hope that luck will happen again.


When I feel like I have writers block I try a couple of things. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I take a break and just live for a few weeks and come back with fresh eyes. I spend lots of time on drives thinking about the book I’m working on.


Sounds like a great way to recharge. THE MEMORY BOX provides a needed lens into the grieving process, especially for young and emerging readers. When did the idea for the book first come to you, and what ways has it developed since?  

I knew I needed to write about grief when a relative who was supposed to receive my first book Always Mom, Forever Dad, a book on divorce,  had a parent that passed away. My first attempt on writing about grief started out as a nature poem from the perspective of the deceased. I still have a place in my heart for that one too. Then I tried writing about grief form the perspective of animals. It didn’t feel right. I thought about how I would help my young child deal with grief. Then the concept for Memory Box came, but it has had so many versions. So many different voices. So many first lines. I took it to conferences, retreats, readers, and pretty much anywhere I could. I never could get an agent with this but I can say this book has taught me the most about revisions and new visions than anything else I have ever written. I’m so thankful for the rejections. They just pushed me to try harder. I was not going to give up.


And we thank you for it! If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?  

I’d tell my younger writer self, "Write the words you want to write. Don’t worry about spelling. Don’t worry about punctuation. Get your words down the way you want to hear them and the rest will follow."


Well said. If you were stuck on an island with only five books, what would you want them to be and why?  

Only 5? That's tough. I picked 3 YA and 2 PBs:


Twilight because this book awakened me back into reading for the love of reading.
The Hunger Games,
 The Wonderful Things You Will Be,
What Do You Do With An Idea,
Harry Potter

THE MEMORY BOX


Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound



THE MONSTRUCTOR


Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound



ALWAYS MOM, FOREVER DAD


Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

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