Blog Hop: How/Why I Write & 2 Writers You Should Check Out

Author Thomas A Fowler tagged me in this continuing series of blog hops.

First up: Props to the tagger. Thomas A Fowler and I are Twitter friends, and have been for quite some time. (You can follow him at: @thomasafowler) In fact, Thomas wrote about me in one of his blog posts last year, and, being that I am your typical narcissistic human, it earned him a spot in my “favorite tweeps” list. But in all seriousness, I like reading his posts and tweets, and it’s very exciting to be part of a writers’ community on social media.

To quote his “about” section on his blog, Thomas is a “Broadcast and Digital Producer at a Denver Ad Agency by day, Writer of Commercial Mainstream and Science-Fiction by Night. Bringing you all the Marketing & Writing advice you need as we take on the Writer’s Conquest together.” Sweet.

Now, onward and upward.

1. What am I working on?

I am working on several different projects, though, my next Spirit Lake Series book is taking precedence for the next few months. Since I just released book two, I want to keep the momentum going by getting book three out in a timely manner. So far, I have over 3K words in my WIP, and am super excited to be world building again. You can click HERE to read the synopses for the first two books in the series.

Another project I am working on has to do with the retelling of my exciting and adventure-filled summer in Spain. I lived abroad this year, for part of the summer, and definitely had some story-worthy experiences.

I also began penning a non-fiction sort of inspirational/self-help kind of book. I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of this year, or at least by the end of January 2015. We shall see what happens.  

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My first book, Feast Island, is a Young Adult Fantasy with, as one reviewer put it, “a refreshing lack of make-out scenes.” Feast Island is the type of book that borders between middle grade and young adult, so it’s fairly “clean” and even the gruesome stuff is not as crazy as could be. However, The Wrong Fairy Tale, Feast Island’s follow-up, is definitely more young adult in that there is some romance, cursing, and (at times) grisly violence. The characters are growing up, and I wanted to convey that. I think that the contrast makes my work different from what’s generally and currently out there, and I like hearing from my readers that my books are unique and surprising. 

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3. Why do I write what I do?

Growing up, I was a total bookworm. I was THAT KID who got in trouble for staying up late because I was reading. My dad introduced me to the coolest books, and I blame him for my fantasy genre addiction. There I was, this 13-year-old kid, reading adult fantasy books about King Arthur and stuff. I just couldn’t get enough!

My mom was always cool with my book addiction too, and she bought my sister and I a book every time a book magazine came through our mail. Granted, it was usually Christian fiction, but I managed to find the series that were more obscure and (to me) provided hours of real life escape. One of my favorite series was The Seven Sleepers by Gilbert L Morris, and some of my ideas for my series were inspired by his middle grade books.

I think that fantasy fiction provides a healthy escape from the mundane–or tragic–in life. Middle school wasn’t particularly kind to me, and books were some of my greatest friends. I felt like I could relate to many characters I was reading about, and that I was right there with them, living their adventures. Because this particular genre had such a positive influence on my life, I hope that my fantasy fiction stories will do the same for my readers. That my books will provide them with a healthy escape and the means to see themselves more clearly.  

4. How does my writing process work?

I have been asked this many times, and every time, my process has changed a bit. I think that it’s important for writers–and any artist, really–to continually evolve in their craft. Every story is different, and as such, every story needs permission to be told the way it wants. Typically, I DO outline each book I write, but even the outlines differ.

I have experimented with writing purely on Scrivner, only to find that I prefer Word. I have also tried outlining on Word, which worked well for a while until I went back to outlining by hand. I keep a separate journal for each book so that my ideas are confined, and I focus on that particular story. Oftentimes, ideas hit me at the most random and sometimes inconvenient times, so it’s important that I keep my journal with me to capture those ideas. I DO sleep with my journal on my nightstand and have had a few instances where I woke up at 2am with an idea and wrote it down. 

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When I was living in Spain this summer, I began going on walks around 9pm, my journal in tow. The sun didn’t set until 9:30pm or so, and I was most definitely inspired by the beauty of nature. I lived in Alicante, a beach city, so I’d go to a more quiet area by the beach (avoiding the huge touristy area) and sit on a bench to take in the scenery. Sometimes I’d write down something to move my story forward, sometimes I’d journal about general life reflections, or sometimes I’d simply sit there and let my mind wander. That routine actually helped me to write so much more this year than ever before, and I think it’s important to remember that quiet reflection can be more productive than we realize. 

And, of course, I read a lot. Since I am also an editor, I read for work besides reading for pleasure. This year alone, I have edited 12 books, in addition to reading 30+ for fun. I read AND edit in several different genres, and my brain soaks up everything. Though I can always improve, I have definitely developed a writers’ coach sort of mentality, and I can spot what makes a story great–and what makes it a flop. Because of this, I am that much more nit picky about my writing, and catch so much when I edit my own works.

Tag, you’re it!

http://robinwoodsfiction.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/robinwoods.jpgYoung adult fiction writer, Robin Woods, was born and raised in San Jose, CA where she earned a BA in English and a MA in Education from local universities. In addition to writing, Robin has been teaching high school English for close to two decades. Her love of working with teenagers and her love of books inspired her to begin writing in the teen genre.
 
Robin’s love affair with vampire lore began at age eight when she was mesmerized by Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She took advantage of her summers off and traveled all over Europe; she even managed to find herself in one of Vlad Dracul’s castles in Romania. She escaped unharmed.
 
When she is not torturing her high school English students or chasing her two small children around, she is sitting in a local coffee shop wondering how vampires like their lattes.

 

IMG_1577.JPGBrea Essex is a wife, mom, YA/NA author, recovering soda addict, and wannabe pop star (but only in her own home). She is owned by several cats, and one cat-dog. Her books, Foreshadow and Overshadow, Book One and Two of The Shadow Imperium Trilogy, and Ouroboros, Book One of The Seven Relics Saga, are available now on major outlets. 

 

Author Interview: Brea Essex, Author of Foreshadow

I can’t believe it’s time for another blog post! Thinking I’d shake things up a bit, I wanted to have one of my good friends, Brea Essex, share her writing journey. She recently had her debut novel, Foreshadow, published by Astraea Press. Below are her answers to my interview questions. Enjoy!

Foreshadow by Brea Essex

  • Tell us a bit about yourself—what’s your background and how did you become a writer?

I wrote a lot as a child and a teenager, but didn’t finish much. My first taste of “fame” was in fifth grade. I wrote a short story and my teacher put it in our class “library” for my classmates to check out. It was about Nancy Drew being murdered and the ensuing investigation. Looking back on it, I’m surprised the teacher didn’t call my father.

By the time I got out of high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I didn’t think I could actually make it as an author. I studied to be a medical assistant, but ended up not liking it. Most of the doctors I worked for and the patients we saw were great, but the job was too stressful for me. So, I started writing again.

  • What is the genre in which you write?

I mostly write YA (young adult) paranormal. I’m working on an epic fantasy series and a historical novel as well.

  • What is the book you recently published? What is it all about?

“Foreshadow”, book one of The Shadow Imperium series, came out in December of 2011. It’s about a sixteen year old girl named Raena whose mother dies. She has to go live with her mother’s best friend and her family. Craziness ensues. Here’s the blurb:

Imagine discovering that your boyfriend was out to kill you—and that the annoying boy from school was your guardian angel.

Rae Davenport has already lost her mother. The only thing keeping her sane is her new boyfriend, Andrei—that is, until she finds out that he wants to kill her. Andrei is a devil, and he wants to use Rae as a sacrifice to get back into Heaven. The only one who can save her is Logan, her guardian angel. He’s only annoyed her in the past, but now he will be her savior.

  • Have you published or written any other works?

“Foreshadow” is currently my only published work. I’m finishing up the sequel, “Overshadow”. I’m also working on a myriad of other projects.

  • Name your top three favorite characters you’ve made up and explain why they’re your favorites.

Number one favorite would have to be Father Matthias, the Catholic priest in the Shadow Imperium series. He comes across as a bit crazy (and yes, that was intentional). Let’s just say he’s not all he seems. He’s been really fun to write.

Second…I’d have to say Ty from another series I’m working on called The Zayin Chronicles. One of my beta readers called him “wonderfully creepy”. It’s interesting to write such an odd character.

Third, I’d say Declan from a stand-alone novel I’m working on, which is tentatively titled “Ravenside”. He’s Scottish, and it’s really fun writing in an accent—it’s also really hard.

  • Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

According to Alyson Noel, the best way to get past writer’s block is by refusing to believe in it. Trust me, it’s easier said than done. Writer’s block sucks, plain and simple. I’m still trying to learn to deal with it. The best things I’ve found is to listen to music. I have playlists for each series/novel. Some write better to classical music. Sometimes instead of music, I’ll put on a movie that I’ve seen a ton of times. That way, I have background noise without distractions. I’ve also found that writing in sprints helps. I’ll time myself for fifteen or thirty minutes, see how much I can write, and then take a short break. I’ll often do “word wars” with other authors. We all sprint for the same amount of time and see who writes the most.

  • How long did it take to finish your first novel?

Writing-wise, about a year. It took me another year to get a publishing contract, edit, and have it published. It was almost exactly two years from when I first put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard) until it released.

  • What were the challenges you faced when getting your first book published?

I had a really hard time getting it long enough. Editing was a nightmare, as was writing the dreaded query letter. I couldn’t get anyone to look at it for a long time. I got rejection after rejection. A lot of the places I sent it to never responded at all. I finally found my publisher, Astraea Press, after about seven months of querying.

  • How do you market your work? What avenues have you found that work best for your genre?

I market it in any way I can possibly think of: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogging. Writing involves a lot of promotion. I spend a lot of time on social media, as well as looking for places to do guest posts and interviews. It’s a learning process, something I hope to improve on.

  • What does your writing process “look” like?

Honestly, it can get messy. Oh, I attempt to outline, but those usually come out with about five or six points on them. More often than not, I take several pages of notes, and then write the scenes as they come to me. With one series I’m working on, I literally wrote down everything I might like to see in a book series and ran with it. I usually write very out of order. I write the major scenes, then go back and fill in the gaps.

  • What projects are you currently working on?

I’m finishing up “Overshadow”, the sequel to “Foreshadow”. I’m also working on “Ouroboros”, book one of The Zayin Chronicles. There are some others I’m working on, but these two are my main focus.

  • What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I haven’t gotten too bad of criticism yet (if I have, I must have blocked it out!). I have gotten a few nasty comments. One person told me that “Foreshadow” was Satanic because it was paranormal. I found that funny, since it’s about angels. I also had one really mean review. These things happen, I guess.

The best compliment…that’s hard to choose. One recent reviewer said that “Foreshadow” is now at the top of her “favorite angel books” list. I’ve had quite a few people tell me how much they love Logan (I do too). One of my favorite comments I’ve gotten is that “Raena is the anti-Bella”. Now, I’m not trying to bash Twilight. I’m just not a big Bella fan. So, naturally I thought this comment was amazing.

  • What advice can you give to aspiring authors?

Stick with it. I can’t help but think how much further I might be if I hadn’t listened to people tell me I had to get a “real job”, or that I’d never make it as an author. Find what works for you, writing-wise. If it’s spending hours outlining, and writing in complete silence, go for it. If you’re like me, and just take tons of notes, then write to music or “Prince Caspian” (yes, the Narnia movie), do it. No one has the same writing process, and finding yours is key.

  • When can we expect to see another publication of your work?

Hopefully, later this year. I’m hoping to finish “Overshadow” and submit it to my publisher this month. I’m working on a couple of things I might self-publish. Those may be out sooner.

  • Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and readers?

I want to thank everyone who’s supported me, either by buying “Foreshadow”, or reviewing it, or just encouraging me. If you’re hearing of me for the first time, thank you for reading this long, rambling interview of mine. I’m a little long-winded. I’m Italian. I talk a lot. I can’t help it.

  • What’s a cool (or nerdy) fact about you that you’ll share with us?

Hmmm…sadly, I’m not very cool. I guess the “coolest” fact about me is that I’m actually descended from nobility. My great-great-(add a few more “greats”) grandfather was the Duke of Caithness, Scotland. You’ll see a lot of information about Caithness—or “Caitnes”, as they call it in Scotland—in my upcoming book “Ravenside”.

Would you like to know more about Brea, connect with her, and buy her book? Here’s where to find her and Foreshadow: 

Website: http://breaessex.com

E-mail: brea@breaessex.com

Blog: http://breaessex.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/breaessexfanpage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/breaessex

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/breaessex

Buy her book:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/ynlGqa

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/t39319

Astraea Press: http://bit.ly/xXv80w