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! 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. 


Teaser Tuesday: The Wrong Fairy Tale

Hey, everyone! This week, I am hoping to get through edits of my up-and-coming second book, The Wrong Fairy Tale! Super excited to share it with everyone, and let readers know what has been happening to the characters from my first book, Feast Island.

Since I am nearing completion of TWFT, I wanted to share another teaser with you all. It has a new character, Queen Eliri, in it. Click HERE to view a picture of the Queen (at least, how I picture her) on Pinterest. Hope you enjoy!

The Wrong Fairy Tale Teaser

The golden plate on her wall began to ripple, drawing Queen Eliri out of her thoughts. Diegen was always prompt with their meeting times. It was the only thing she could expect from him.

“Lord Diegen, what a pleasure,” she said, sounding bored.

“Eliri, there is no need to lie; let us do without the formalities. I am very busy, so tell me why you have summoned me.” His eyes were glossy, and it was hard to remember what his face looked like if she were not looking right at it.

The Queen cleared her throat, trying to find the strength to confront him. “It has come to my attention that you have lied to me.”

“Accusations this early in the morning? Please, enlighten me.”

“You promised me power—greater power than what I already had possessed. And yet, my power is waning. We made a deal and you have not upheld it.” Now, she was irate and only felt anger rather than fear, although she was facing a being so powerful, he could kill her from thousands of miles away.

Diegen’s face began to morph into sharper lines and angles; his pupils started to expand, bleeding into his irises and eradicating all the blue color. Had Eliri been able to see his fingers, she would have witnessed their transformation into very long and bony extensions that had just a thin layer of skin left on them.

Suddenly, Eliri found it hard to breathe. Her veins felt constricted, and when she looked at her hands, she saw that her fingertips were swelling and becoming red. Her tongue ballooned, and she couldn’t think clearly. However, she managed to use what power she still did possess and fought back against Diegen’s display of control over her. When she thought she could no longer hold him at bay, he released his hold on her. The Queen coughed and wheezed as she gulped much needed air.

“So you do have power after all. Enough power to resist me.” His eyes became a cool blue once more, and his features relaxed back to their normal state.

“My people are losing their power and you have weakened me,” she rasped, rubbing the front of her neck.

“On the contrary, my Queen, you are responsible for that. I promised you power, and so you shall have it—when our deal is fulfilled, and so long as you behave. You, of all beings on Cantelia, should know that when the balance of any land is disturbed, there are consequences. If you do not have enough resources to restore the balance yourself, then you should have thought about such things before making promises to me. Have I made myself clear?”

“You have made yourself extremely clear,” Eliri spat, mustering all the strength she had in order to stand tall.

Cover Reveal for The Wrong Fairy Tale

Finally! It’s time! The cover for my second book in the Spirit Lake Series, The Wrong Fairy Tale, is ready! My graphic artist is ahhhhh-maaazzzing and I am super excited to share the cover with all of you!

So, without further ado, here it is:

The Wrong Fairy Tale by Tamar Hela

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Here’s the full cover:

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Book synopsis:

Being a hero is not such an easy job after all.

It’s sophomore year, and Alex and her friends are just trying to survive high school: boring homework, detention, crushes…and a fateful journey through a portal to another planet—you know, the usual. Despite being average California teenagers, this group of seven find themselves on a return trip to the strange land of Cantelia, where their Spirit Guide, Goden, has sent them. This time, they appear near the Alfaran Forest: a place, where, once again, many inhabitants claim these kids are the Chosen Ones and that they will help to find a solution for ridding the forest of a new kind of horror.

Will the teens have the courage to fight the real enemy? Or will they be forever trapped on Cantelia?

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Series: Spirit Lake

Expected release date: July/August 2014

Publisher: Epic Books Publishing

Cover art by: Andrew Beach

At the moment, I’m nearing the 64K word count in my manuscript. There are a few more things to add in, and then my novel goes to my editor and beta readers. I’ve been researching a lot about Native American legends, myths, and history–which will play a significant role in this book and the rest of the series. In the first book, there is just a taste of the legend, and, of course, more will unfold as the series progresses.

If you want to read a FREE sample of my first book, Feast Island, you can download it here: Feast Island 2nd Edition SAMPLE


You can buy it on Kindle by clicking HERE.

Can’t wait until book two is released and ready to be shared with everyone! It’s getting close, guys. Thanks for being so supportive and reading my stuff 🙂

Teaser Tuesday!

Hello, lovely readers!

Thought it’d be fun to post a teaser of my work-in-progress: The Wrong Fairy Tale (book 2 of the Spirit Lake Series). I’m closer to finishing the first draft, and should have a release date to announce very soon. Hooray! Happy Tuesday, and enjoy this (unedited) snippet:

From a scene between Geoffrey and Alex; Geoffrey’s POV

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“You,” she said, shaking her head. “Ben’s pretty protective over me, but I’m sure you already know that. He’s just a good friend, that’s all. And I’m not surprised at your response to him. I would’ve paid to see that conversation. But what’s done is done. Tomorrow’s a new day, and Ethalo is going to teach us how to fight properly. Just duke it out with Ben or something, and then become friends—like all you boys do.” She put her arm through mine. “You and I both have tempers that fly without warning, huh?”

I smiled as we continued walking towards our tent area. “I guess we do,” I agreed. “But you have more control than I. And you’re way nicer.”

“Why, thank you, Geoffrey. That’s probably the nicest comment you’ve made to me today. Except for the whole, ‘I care about you’ thing. Did you really mean that?” she asked when we got to the top of the stairs.

“Yeah,” I whispered. We had stopped walking and were standing in the middle of the common area.

“Good,” she whispered back. “Maybe you can take my KP duties for the rest of our time here, then,” she said while squeezing my arm.

“Hey, that’s not what I meant when I said I cared,” I argued, a little too loudly. But she was already walking away into the girls’ section. I stared after her until she disappeared and shook my head. Chicks were so confusing.

Hope you liked that! And don’t forget–I’ve created some Spirit Lake Series boards on Pinterest, if you’d like to see what I use as visual inspiration.

Here are the links:

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For reference, The Wrong Fairy Tale takes place in the Alfaran Forest.

Teaser Tuesday!

I’m in the middle of promoting my re-release, Feast Island, but didn’t want to leave out book two (which is more than halfway finished!): The Wrong Fairy Tale. So, I thought a Teaser Tuesday would be appropriate. I’m expecting to release book two early next year. It is so much fun and my characters find themselves in a new land with new challenges–I hope that sounds intriguing! 😉 Without further ado, I present a teaser, featuring everyone’s favorite mean girl, Keira:

“I thought our trip here last year was a one time deal. What are we doing back? Did I really have to be ‘chosen,’ too? The Prophecy says only six people are supposed to help save this stupid planet, not seven. Where’s that spirit guide guy?” she complained. Yeah, Keira was not happy or pleased with our journey back to Cantelia, the planet that we had visited a year ago.

“So many questions, so many complaints. The Queen will not appreciate such a demanding and dismal attitude,” Ethalo said to her with disapproval. “All will be revealed in time, but at the present moment, we must head for the safety of the village of my people—the Alfara.”

I almost shouted, “Yeah! You tell her!” but was too tired to say anything. Keira’s only response was a glare. She folded her arms and lifted one eyebrow so high, I thought it would take flight off her face. I would have giggled had I the energy to do so. Her expression formed into a “what are you gonna do about it” kind of look, and her anger could be felt in the air like a thick fog.

If Pouty Princess had already decided to rear her ugly disposition at this point on our adventure, I grimaced at the thought of what the rest of our time on Cantelia would look like.

Ethalo held his ground and pushed back. “Miss Keira,” he addressed her with cold authority. “You can very well choose to be stubborn over being safe. I will not ignore your wishes. However, I will not ignore your companions, and I believe they all want food and shelter for the evening.
“We will depart now and you can remain here if you decide that is best for you. I’m sorry to say that I can offer no further protection from the night creatures, so perhaps I can at least be gracious by offering my sword to you for protection?”

If my arms and hands weren’t numb, I would have clapped.

“You’ve got to be joking,” she said, in her most princess-esque tone.

“I never joke about offering someone my sword,” he replied collectedly. “You have to the count of five to decide. Are the rest of you prepared?”

Everyone nodded his or her head, and I did a half nod. My eyelids were drooping and now my torso seemed to be losing feeling. What was wrong with me? I tried to get Ethalo’s attention, but my mouth felt so heavy and I couldn’t form any words.

“Fine,” Keira huffed. “Let’s go, Mr. Elf.” An elf! That’s what he reminded me of!

“I am not an elf, I am an Alfari. Come, let us go.”

Just then, he turned to me and his cat eyes were opened wide. “Alex, you look…”

But I’ll never know how that statement ended, because I passed out for the second time that day. Go me.

For those curious enough to wonder how I imagine my characters’ appearances, I’ve begun a Pinterest board where I’ve shared some ideas. Here’s the link if you’d like to visit: