June Spotlight Week Giveaway Winner

Happy Monday everyone!

This past June, the spotlight was on YA Author Cynthia Hand and her amazing paranormal romance series UNEARTHLY. Due to the craziness of these past few weeks, it slipped my mind that I hadn’t yet announce the winner of my  Spotlight Week giveaway.

Congrats to CARINA OLSEN for winning a signed copy of BOUNDLESS!

boundless modified June Spotlight Week Giveaway Winner

 

I’ll email you in a few minutes to give you instructions on how to claim your prize.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish everyone a happy, productive week!

 

 

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G LLoyd Helm Q & A with Author G.Lloyd Helm by Francine Silverman

 

G. Lloyd Helm is a philosopher, poet, novelist and short story writer whose short storyA Tale of Segovia’s Guitarwas awarded first place in 2006 by the Antelope Valley Literary Coalition.

http://www.everydayfiction.com/tender-by-g-lloyd-helm/

OtherDoors Q & A with Author G.Lloyd Helm by Francine Silverman

Q & A with Author G. Lloyd Helm

by Book Promotions Newsletter Editor Francine Silverman

 

Q. Aside from the above, you write political columns, novels that have ranged from science fiction to anti-war fantasy to history and philosophy. You also wrote a literary romance, memoirs, cover religion in Design (PublishAmerica 2006), and produced an anthology made up of short stories, poems and essays by past and present residents of Antelope Valley, California. I read your novel, Other Doors, a fantasy of good and evil, and it was a real page turner. That book, I would guess, covered fantasy, philosophy and history. Needless to say, you are hard to categorize!

Glad you liked Other Doors.  I am very proud of that little book. It came out in 1997 and since its publication my little book about peace has gone to every war zone in the world. That’s because, being retired military, I sold hundreds of them on military bases.  I know for sure that there are at least two of them in Afghanistan right now because I sold them to a couple of Marines who were on their way there.

You wrote that you spend weekends at craft fairs and art shows, selling your books.

 

Q. Do you take a table every weekend or walk around peddling your wares?

Yes. I take a table/space and set up my book store.  I have a table and display racks for my books and those of others I also sell. I keep my whole store in my little silver bullet car and can set up at a moment’s notice.

 

Q. Given all the different fields you cover, how else do you market your books?

I also market on line and via mail. But mostly I am just always on about my books. So much so that I sometimes see people cringe when I walk up.

 

Q.Other Doors has been banned by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and your literary romance, Sometimes in Dreams has been removed from Federal prison libraries. Why?

That whole thing has been a goat rope from the beginning. At one point the prison authorities decided that all fantasy books should be pulled from the shelves, so it wasn’t just me.  It was some Psychologist’s idea that reading such books made the prisoners live in fantasy rather than reality, which is BS as far as I’m concerned. They pulled Sometimes in Dreams along with any other “romance” that had any sexual content. Same reasoning as with the fantasy novels and just as stupid.

 

Q. You live in northern Los Angeles County in the Antelope Valley. How large is the area of some 475,000 residents? There are so many writers within its bounds, that your small publishing company, Mouseprints Publishing, has produced anthologies of works by residents for nine years?

Antelope Valley, as we defined it for the sake of the Anthologies, is quite large. I can’t even guess how many square miles, but many. It took in everywhere from Barstow to Frazier Park (east to west) and Acton to Ridge Crest (north to south)

There are lots of writers up in this area. I tell people that between Lancaster and Tehachapi we are about the third largest literary arts community in the country. We get lots of people up from LA/Hollywood who like to live in the desert.  The Anthologies never lacked submissions. Our last one, “9” had 285 author submissions and some of those were multiple so we had to comb pretty hard to get the number down to the usual 20-25 authors.  We grew every year and got better every year. The first year the book was so crude it didn’t even have page numbers. The last two,Darkness Visible, and “9” were both up for international small press prizes.

Mouse Prints has also published several things besides my first novel and the AV anthologies, the main one being a beautiful compact guide book for a local Indian Museum—that one had eighty-eight color pictures in it which was a new experience.

All these, the anthologies, the guide book, all five of my books are available autographed from me via e mail at mouseprint@earthlink.net.  Or electronically fromwww.roguephoenixpress.com

 

Q. Despite your prolific output, in order to make a living you have held a variety of jobs, such as ditch digger, brick layer, carpenter, cabbie, cook and clerk.

 Do your fellow workers know you are a writer and have you ever sold any of your books to any of them?

You left out a bunch such as a US Post Office Dock Walloper, Stage Actor, and Musician. I could go on and on. And yeah, I was never shy about being a ne’er-do-well scribbler. Sold quite a few books to quite a few people with whom I worked. But truth be told I could never have kept writing without the support of my wife Michele. She has been my patron since the beginning. I tell people that my epitaph will read “He married well” and I am only half joking. Without Michele I don’t know where I would be.

Q. Tell us about your new novel, which is more literary than the others.

My new novel is more straight ahead literary than anything I have written so far. Sometimes in Dreams was more literary and it has been compared with a Hemingway novel Across the River and into the Trees. Wasn’t one of his best but hey, someone compared me with Hemingway. I said all that to say this, my new novel Serpents and Doves, of which I just finished the rough, is Hemingway-esque in style in that it has a lot of dialogue and details real world situations. Serpents and Doves is a novel of the mid-1960’s. It is about a young man who has been fairly sheltered all his life suddenly being tossed into a world he didn’t really know existed. He goes to college thereby avoiding the draft, and finds himself enmeshed in the civil rights struggle, church struggles, homosexuality struggles and even the pre-six day war Arab–Israeli struggle.  It is fiction, but it connects with my own life in many ways. I am hoping to have it tightened up and out for sale within the next year.

 

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Gary was interviewed by Francine Silverman, editor of Book Promotion Newsletter,
an on-line publicist, compiler of 16 ebooks of talk radio shows and host of a weekly
radio show, Fraternizing with Fran – where interesting people come to chat.
http://www.talkradioadvocate.com and http://talkradioadvocate.blogspot.com

 

 

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Nancy Ellen Dodd, author of THE WRITER’S COMPASS.

The Writers Compass Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

Welcome, Nancy!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

Nancy Dodd modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

Author Nancy Ellen Dodd

My day job is academic editor of a peer-reviewed online journal at the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University. As one professor told her students, I’m the one who edits the faculty. I also teach advanced screenwriting at Pepperdine in the Spring.

I’ve been trained in most forms of writing–novels, screenplays, plays, short stories, etc.–except poetry, but I dabble with writing poems anyway. My favorite form and genre is whatever I’m writing in at the time I’m asked. I’m currently finishing the final edits on a YA/Crossover novel that I started as a short story 22 years ago.

Other than writing, I love reading or listening to audiobooks, watching movies or good TV, camping near the ocean or up in Yosemite near a stream. I also enjoy various forms of sewing, knitting, crocheting. A few years ago I had breast cancer and knitted something like 5 sweaters while I was recovering. Something I especially enjoy, but rarely do, is making wedding veils.

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I used to write in my bed, after all in bed is where dreams happen. I have a very large bed and I could spread materials out. I don’t write in bed as often now because I have a better space.

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My desk is a large dining room table that was my mother’s. For years it was taken apart and sitting in the garage. I dreamed of one day having a place to set it up and use it as my writing space. When we moved, I discovered I had enough room to set it up in my bedroom. I took it from storage and set it up by myself, which was quite a feat. It has 3 additional leaves I don’t have room to add. The table is under a large window that looks out to our community condo courtyard and then beyond to the homes and trees on the hills of our neighborhood.

work space modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

Nancy’s Workspace

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

I’m embarrassed to stay stacks and stacks of clutter and papers and receipts, which need to be filed or trashed are hidden behind a very large monitor, plus a printer and miscellaneous other items.

Clara modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

Clara nutcracker

I have several bookcases in my room. I also love nutcrackers and I have a Clara nutcracker under a picture that says “Dream” and I have a 5-foot nutcracker in my room that she is dreaming about.

5 foot nutcracker modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

5-Foot Tall Nutcracker

I have a whole collection of nutcrackers I put out at Christmas with some inexpensive trains my granddaughter and I love to run. I also have a collection of fairy tale books and other books I find inspiring, lots of music on CDs and cassettes and of course a huge selection of my devotional books. Also important to me are my “story boxes,” which are colorful boxes I keep all the materials relating to a specific story inside.

 

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

Most of my favorite objects are on the bookshelves behind me or scattered through the room.

behind desk modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

In my workspace I have a blue enamel tin cup, like one you might use while camping, that a former writer’s group member bought me that he identified with in a story I wrote as a TV pilot. I also have other items from various productions or that friends have given me related to my writing.

objects modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

My favorite drink is freshly brewed hot tea, especially lapsang souchong, but a good cup of Earl Gray or Lady Earl Gray or…

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

There are so many authors I like in many different genres. I really enjoy Lee Child, J.R.R. Tolkien, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Dashiell Hammett, Clive Cussler, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, and many others.

I don’t know who inspired me to write. I’ve always told stories to myself and at one point I started writing them down.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

For a long time I have had a devotional with a prayer time and Bible or inspirational reading time before I write. Then I try to write for a couple of hours before I get up and go to work. I learned some time ago that it was easy to allow other things to interrupt my creative time and if they did, then my writing time for the day would be gone.

I recently realized I had a new ritual, which has to do with digitizing my audiobooks from cassettes so I can listen to them again. I set up the audio editor and push the play buttons and then save the file and turn the cassette over and repeat. I didn’t realize this was a ritual until one day when I started to write I automatically turned around to setup the tape player first. It was like I had to do that to start.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I try to write everyday. When I’m at the end of the project I might write several hours a day. My daughter and 7-year-old granddaughter live with me and when I am at a part where I need several uninterrupted hours, they will take a trip somewhere so I can have privacy.

My biggest distractions currently are checking email, or rankings, looking at the newest deal on audible.com, and of course my kids calling me or my granddaughter coming in to ask me a question.

Another distraction is that I develop and teach online courses and I give a number of workshops to writer’s groups and at conferences, so sometimes my writing time is the only time I have to prepare or give notes to my students.

 

4. Why do you write?

I try at least once a year to give up writing, but I always go back to it. Although I’ve written off and on for decades, in May 1998 I started praying that God would help me to take the steps to lead me to fulfill my purpose in life. Two weeks later I was given a ticket to go to a writer’s conference in Mendocino that I otherwise would not have been able to afford. At that conference I went to two workshops given by a screenwriter who taught at USC. I told him I wanted to learn from him. He told me I would need to be at USC in the master’s of Professional Writing Program and to let him know if I wanted to go. At the time, I didn’t even have my bachelor’s degree. Through a series of events, a few months later I found myself finishing my bachelor’s at Cal-State, Bakersfield, during the same semester I was starting my master’s degree at USC in Los Angeles. While at USC I also earned an MFA in playwriting. Since then I’ve come to believe that in part, God’s plan for me is to teach and to write, both of which I love doing.

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

I tell my students that the most important thing to know about writing is to never let anyone talk you into cutting what your gut tells you to keep–until you know why you wrote it. Sometimes it is the most important part of your story and without it you don’t want to keep writing that story. You have to dig deeper and become naked on the page until you figure out why you wrote that bit or scene and how to show it. Sometimes it leads to some of the best writing in your story.

For example, the YA I’m finishing I thought I’d completed 6 months ago. When I gave it to other writers to read, I got very different opinions. One of them suggested major cuts. After I got up from my pity party, I went back to the method I teach in my book, The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages, to create a new story map to look at my story again. What I learned was that I started the story in the wrong place and from the wrong POV. I cut 220 pages and then cherry-picked the parts I wanted to keep. I totally reorganized the content and retold it in multiple POVs. One of the people who wanted me to cut so much just told me how much better it was and that she was glad I’d cut certain things, it made her like the main character so much more. She was very surprised to learn I hadn’t cut those sections at all, I told the same story in a different order and multiple POVs, which had totally changed her perception of the story.

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Nancy!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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A New Chapter in My Life

I hope you all had a marvelous Independence Day weekend!

I spent most of last week doing chores, and catching up on my chapters and other writing group activities. I also managed to squeeze in some time to hang out with family and friends.  I’m trying to make sure I get a lot of personal stuff done so I can give my new job the utmost attention.

After almost nine years of working at the same company, doing the same job day after day, I am more than ready to turn the page and start a new chapter in my life.

And I can already tell it’s going to be a great new chapter! Why? Because my job has to do with my two greatest passions—writing and teaching/learning.

Tomorrow I start at my new job at UCLA Extension’s Writers Program. As its Online Creative Writing and Events Rep, I’ll be in charge of planning the program’s online offerings and organizing its writing events. These are two of my favorite activities—and I would do this for free. But now, I’ll get paid to actually pursue these passions. I am super thrilled to be working there and I can’t wait to dive in.

A new job means a new schedule and a new way of doing things. While I’m trying to figure out how things work, I’m pretty sure some things will get set aside—my writing and this blog, for starters. My Wednesday Writer’s Workspace posts will always be there, as will my guest postings, but I might miss a few days here and there. But I will try my best not to. Once I find the rhythm of this new chapter of my life, I’m sure I’ll find a better way to juggle all the roles I play. In the meantime, I apologize for my inconsistent postings.

I hope you all are doing great. I’ll try to drop by every now and then to see how you all are. But even if you don’t see me, rest assured all you bloggy friends are in my thoughts and prayers!

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

 

 

through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Allison, author of that fun blog Geek Banter.

Welcome, Allison!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

alli modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

 

Allison

I’m a Canadian, a Christian, and a huge geek. I love all things sci-fi and fantasy, video games, board games, movies, TV shows, and books. I’m a graphic designer by day and a writer by night (which is a little unfortunate for my writing because my brain’s creativity peaks in the morning and early afternoon).

I love writing sci-fi and fantasy. For work, I’ve also written news stories and done copywriting. Other hobbies of mine include painting, snowboarding, and the occasional putting on face paint and airsoft gear to run around the forest playing capture the flag (actually I’ve only done that a couple times, but it’s pretty fun).

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I either do it at my computer desk on my desktop or in my living room on my laptop. If I’m story writing, I do it on Scrivener, because that program is awesome.

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

No unique history for my desk… I picked it up at Canadian Tire! I needed something small to fit into the tiny bedroom I had at the time, and it was just right. Now I have a separate room for an office in my house, and it’s nice to have that space.

 

desk modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

Allison’s Workspace

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work? What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I usually always have a notebook and pen in front of me to scribble ideas down in (or to look at my previous scribbles), and a cup with pens and highlighters nearby. I also have an awesome Portal picture hanging on the wall that I got at a con framed and signed by the artist. And sometimes Commander Shepherd sits on my desk and makes sure I get my work done.

 

4. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

I often just forget to drink water and get dehydrated, so I try to keep water around. And I enjoy the occasional cup of tea.

 IMG 2636 copy modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

 

 

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

Aaaghh just one? I’ve gotta list a few: J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Diana Wynne Jones, Veronica Roth, Robert Jordan, Orson Scott Card. They’ve all been inspirations.

None of my family or close friends are passionate about writing so I feel like I’ve had to forge ahead on my own most of the time, but I’ve really appreciated my dad especially just for encouraging me. He’s always been excited that I love to write and enjoys brainstorming ideas and plots with me.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

Step 1: Procrastinate.

Step 2: Force myself to sit down at my computer.

Step 3: Feel intimidated and like I won’t be able to come up with anything good, even though I always manage to get words down on the page once I start and I KNOW this.

Step 4: Get words down on the page.

Step 5: Keep writing, whether I think it is good or garbage.

Step 6: Let myself feel accomplished, whether I’ve written 100 or 1000 words during my writing session; every word counts and is part of the process.

Step 7: Repeat from Step 1 for next writing session.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I try to write every day, though lately the writing has not been on my novel in progress and has been for my second job, which is copywriting for a geeky website. I am also currently working on a graphic novel with a friend who’s an artist, which I’m pretty excited about!

 

4. Why do you write?

I’ve always liked writing and stories, ever since I can remember. There’s just something about creating worlds and characters that is so much fun!

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

“When in doubt, blow something up.” I do not recommend applying this advice to your life, just to writing icon wink Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

Thanks for having me, Nutschell!

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Allison!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Trisha F, author of that fun blog Word + Stuff.

Welcome, Trisha!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

ww trishaprofile Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

 

Trisha F.

I’m a 33 year old librarian living in Western Australia (on the coast, yay!).

I have written novels (or parts of novels) in various genres so far: contemporary, paranormal, sci-fi, sci-fantasy, and fantasy. Some are a bit hard to classify … which is why I have difficulty writing queries/blurbs.

Other hobbies and interests include writing music, and playing it (guitar/singing). I also love reading (duh!), and drawing/painting/etc. As for hidden talents, I don’t think there are any that I’ve kept hidden knowingly. At least not from the blogging world …

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I write at my “terminal” which is a stand-up terminal. I write on my laptop using Scrivener.

ww writingspace modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.Trisha’s Workspace

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

I don’t have a desk, but that’s okay – I have read in a few places that standing up instead of sitting at a computer is a lot better for your health. I do sort of miss having a bigger work area, but space is of the essence in my 1-bedroom villa. icon smile Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

I don’t really need anything around me when I work, except water! Must have water! I usually save the snacking for when I’m watching DVDs.

ww scribbles modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

 

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

What I love most about my workspace is that my laptop is here – I really love my little laptop

 ww laptopscrivener modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I can’t really say I have a fave author. I grew up probably loving Robert Jordan and Terry Brooks the most (epic fantasy was a staple in my reading diet – along with Dean Koontz’s horror. Epic fantasy was also the genre I wrote in for my first lengthy work). But nowadays my reading diet is highly varied, and I have many faves.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

Since I work full time as a librarian, I don’t usually get to write during the day, except on weekends. But generally I don’t have any rituals or quirks, or at least I don’t think I do. A lot of the time I am weirder when NOT writing – like I’m talking out loud as if I’m one of my characters, figuring out ideas for dialogue. But when I start writing, I am basically a typing machine who spews out words at a rate of knots.

ww trisha modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I do TRY to work on my writing every day, but lately I have failed pretty epically in this regard. I don’t really have any good excuses, except that right now I am fostering a bunch of kittens, and taking care of them seems to drain me. Plus, two nights a week I do a fitness class after work so I get home pretty late. The biggest hurdle I face right now is trying to edit a novel that needs an immense amount of work. It’s hard to keep myself motivated.

ww writingontable modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

4. Why do you write?

I write because I love it. It’s sort of a compulsion. I feel that I’m a very inspired person, and ideas are constantly striking me and demanding to be written. I love getting into the heads of my characters and putting them through horrible traumas, so they can emerge triumphant at the end (assuming they’re still alive!). Gee, I’m nice aren’t I?

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

My go-to writing tip is to just write. Sounds obvious, I know, but it is the thing that works best for me. My problem is never trying to find something to write, but rather I am struggling at the editing end of matters. So in terms of writing, JUST WRITE!! Don’t worry about whether it’s crap or not – just write it, and worry about the level of crapness later.

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Trisha!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

 

 

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Giveaway Winner and an Announcement

First, I’d like to announce the winner of my May Spotlight Week Giveaway Contest

Congratulations, Lee ! You win a kindle copy of THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, the first book in Mary E. Pearson’s Jenna Fox Trilogy.

 Giveaway Winner and an Announcement

 

I’ll be emailing you soon with details on how to claim your prize.

Second, I’d like to invite you all to sign up for this month’s Spotlight Week Giveaway. I’m giving away a SIGNED copy of Cynthia Hand’s BOUNDLESS, the third book in her UNEARTHLY SERIES.

boundless modified Giveaway Winner and an Announcement

For details on how to get your hands on this copy, click on this link.

Third and last, I’d like to share some joyful news. 

The past weeks have been pretty hectic because on top of my own writing, blogging and personal schedule, I’ve actually been focused on applying for a dream job at UCLA Extension.

After two interviews and three weeks of nail-biting and enduring the agony of waiting. I finally got the call I was praying and hoping and wishing for.

I got my dream job!

This July, I’ll be starting my new job with the UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) Extension Writers’ Program. And I’ll be doing something I truly enjoy doing. As their Online Creative Writing & Events Rep, I’ll be helping with planning their online courses and organizing all their amazing writing events, such as the Writers’ Faire and the Publication Party. I am giddy with excitement and I thank the stars every day that I got this opportunity.

There’s a lot of work ahead of me, with transitions, endings and beginnings, so forgive me if my blog becomes even more sporadic in posts. I’m looking forward to my new work. More than anything I’m just really, really happy to have job that allows me to work on my two biggest passions: writing and teaching.

I wish you all a very happy week! May you also have much to look forward to.

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Spotlight Week Giveaway

This week the Spotlight was on Cynthia Hand and her exciting Young Adult Paranormal series UNEARTHLY.

If you want to know more about the UNEARTHLY series you can read my BOOK REVIEW .

Also, check out my fun interview with author Cynthia Hand.

To end our Spotlight Week, I’m giving away a SIGNED COPY of BOUNDLESS, the third book in the UNEARTHLY SERIES.

To enter the contest, tell me  why you’d like to win the book

I’ll put all your names in my magical drawing box and pick the winner.

I love encouraging people to unleash their imaginative and creative sides, so the more creative your answers are, the more chances you have of winning. If your comment/answer tickles my fancy, I’ll add another slip of paper (or two) with your name on it to my drawing box.

Also, if you tweet about this giveaway, or share it on Facebook, I’ll add more 2 slips of papers with your name on it.
AND if you FOLLOW ME on Linky OR on Facebook’s networked blogs, I’ll add 6 more entries with your name into the drawing bowl.

The contest is international and will run until June 30, 2014.

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I love the UNEARTHLY series. I’m not incredibly fond of angel stories, but the story just hooked me from the beginning.

I took a chance and emailed author Cynthia Hand to tell her how much I loved her books, and to ask if she’d agree to do an interview for my Spotlight Week series. I was ecstatic when she graciously accepted my invitation.  Cynthia Hand is one of my favorite YA authors and after reading my  interview with her, you’ll discover why.

Here’s a bit more about Cynthia, from her author bio on http://www.cynthiahandbooks.com/

Cynthia Hand is a native of southeastern Idaho and currently lives with her husband and two small children in Southern California, where she teaches writing at Pepperdine University. She has graduate degrees in creative writing from Boise State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Instead of a muse, Cynthia has a guardian angel named Buster. He wears a Stetson in place of a halo, prefers a beat-up pickup truck to flying, and loves to correct Cynthia’s grammar.

I’m very excited to have her here today! Without further ado, I present the amazing Cynthia Hand!

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Cynthia hand Spotlight Week Author Interview: Cynthia Hand

The Amazing Cynthia Hand

1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself. 

  1. I learned to ski when I was 5 years old. As a teen I was on a ski racing team.
  2. I obsessively collect movie scores. I have hundreds of them, and I can usually pick out who the composer is within a few minutes of seeing a film.
  3. I have two cats: Stella and Frank.

 2. What inspired you to write UNEARTHLY? Did you always know it would be a series?

This is a tougher question because the inspiration, as it always is for me, was a bit mysterious. I heard Clara’s narrative voice, and started asking questions about what that voice seemed to want to tell me, and the story unrolled from there. But there are a number of things from my life that ended up inspiring parts of the books: first, that series of questions: what is my purpose in this life? Can I mess up that purpose, or is it fate? Do I want to believe in destiny, or would I rather make my own choices? As a child I also loved Madeleine L’Engle’s book, Many Waters, which has the Nephilim in it, and got my wheels turning about what that would be like, to be the child of an angel and a human. And I loved C.S. Lewis’ description of heaven and hell in his book, The Great Divorce, which is an influence you can clearly see when Clara goes to those places.

 Yes, I always knew it would be a series, although I didn’t always know how everything was going to turn out.

3. UNEARTHLY, HALLOWED, and BOUNDLESS are all wonderful character-driven novels. Which of the three books did you enjoy writing the most? Which one gave you the most trouble?

This is a tough question, too! I think I definitely enjoyed writing Unearthly the most. Back then I was writing just for me, and I was discovering these awesome characters and this wonderful, multi-layered world that they live in, and that was so much fun. Every day was an exploration. The second book was much harder, because I had a lot more on my plate as a writer by then, and also because Clara experiences a loss in that book that was close to my heart, which was emotionally tough to write.

 But the third book was the hardest to write. Ugh. I get stomach pains just thinking about it. The big problem was, about ¾ of the way through writing the third book, I was informed that there wasn’t going to be a fourth book. Paranormal romance was taking a steep dive in sales across the board, and I totally understand, from the business side of things, why my publisher wouldn’t want to buy another PR-my original book deal was for 3 books, although I always thought of the story in 4 parts.

So. I had to reevaluate everything. Book three as I originally intended it ended with the night at the Pink Garter (mild spoiler alert!) and Clara and Christian (and one other special character) running off into the night, on the run. I had already written a little novella from Christian/Angela’s POV to go between book three and book four. And now.

 (stomach pains)

 Basically I had to rewrite the book to be the end. Which meant that I had to condense a whole lot, and totally abandon some other parts of the story. It was the worst form of torture.

 But it turned out all right in the end. I was able, through a lot of sweat and a LOT of tears, to make Boundless something that felt right and I was proud of. I was maybe even more proud of Boundless than my other books, because I had to work so hard to accomplish it. And it is definitely a tighter, more action-packed story than it would have been if I had stretched it over two books.

4. The UNEARTHLY series features characters with angel-blood. How did you come up with the (very cool) angel classifications such as Dimidius & Quartarius? Did you have to do a lot of research?

Again, it was kind of mysterious, but yes, I did do a lot of research. I had about a week in the beginning where I was keeping a OneNote file full of notes about the different types of angel-bloods and angels and all of their powers and limitations. Fun stuff.

5. Clara Gardner’s story spans both the rural town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the more urban town of Mountain View, California. Why did you choose these particular settings for your trilogy?

I chose them because I knew both of those towns pretty well. I grew up within an easy drive of Jackson, and it was one of my favorite places to go. The mountains there, the Tetons, are my favorite mountains in the world—they have such an awe-inspiring beauty. Also, I liked Jackson because it is this cool juxtaposition of Old West and high end, a tourist town. It’s rustic but it has a regular-sized high school. I thought it would be a good place to put Clara.

I chose Mountain View because I wanted a Bay Area city, somewhere near to San Francisco, because I thought of Maggie, Clara’s mother, being connected to that place. And so I chose Mountain View, where my son was born.

6. Clara, Christian and Tucker are characters with very distinct personalities, and their love triangle throughout the series kept me guessing until the end. How did you make your characters so three-dimensional? And if you were a character in the story, would you prefer to date someone like Christian or Tucker?

Ha. Okay, first question first. I don’t make my characters three-dimensional. I just kind of uncover them that way. Actually, I deliberately left Christian a bit two-dimensional in Unearthly, because I wanted him to be the kind of guy you like from afar but don’t actually know very well. And then she would get to know him better and better throughout the books. But I’ve always seen my characters something like Michelangelo saw his statues, like they are already there in the marble, and only need to be released.

As to who I would date, gosh. Probably Tucker, because I think it would make me nervous that Christian could read my mind. . . But then Christian is . . . Christian! Gah, you guys, I can’t choose.

7. If your books were to be made into a movie, which scene would you be most interested in seeing live on the big screen?

The moment between Clara and Tucker in the barn from Unearthly. Because aw.

The scene where she meets Michael from Hallowed.

The journey to hell from Boundless.

8. If you could spend a day with a favorite author (living or otherwise), who would it be,and what do you imagine your conversation being like?

Jane Austen, I think. Then I would tell her about all the movies that have been made from her work and it would totally blow her mind.

9. Tell us about your path to publication. What is the coolest thing about being a published author?

I took a kind of unconventional path to get here—the go-to-school path. When I knew I wanted to commit to being a writer, I went for an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degree, in literary fiction. I studied hard for three years (and I didn’t even attempt to get published in any of that time) and then went to get a PhD, where I studied hard for another three years. In my first year of my PhD I met my future husband, and he was all like, “So, what have you published?” and I was like, “Um, nothing,” and he was like, “Let me read one of your stories,” and I was like, “. . .okay,” and he was like, “This is really good, you should publish it,” and I was like, “okay,” and so I sent it out and it was accepted for publication in a great literary journal, and I was a published author!

I did it all to impress a boy, is what I’m saying.

Then a few agents called me about that story, and I ended up connecting with my lovely agent, Katherine. And that’s where it all began.

The coolest thing about being published is that you and your readers get to know the same people. We all know Jeffrey and Maggie and Tucker and Wendy. The people who, up until the moment the books hit the shelves, only existed in my brain (and the brains of a select few) can suddenly come alive for thousands of other people, who will love them or hate them or form all other kinds of opinions about them. That is so cool.

10. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

My writing life changes from book to book. But ideally I would write every day for a few hours, in the morning, I would aim for 1500-2000 words. I can’t really afford rituals these days because my schedule is so crazy that I just have to make it work in whatever situation I’m in. But I do like tea. I drink a lot of tea when I write.

11. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?

I read a lot. I am a television junkie. I am a recovering video game addict (I just started Elder Scrolls Online and realized immediately that it was too dangerous for me and had to cut it off before I stopped writing books to run around shooting arrows at monsters all day. I also knit and crochet and play piano and snuggle with my kids.

 12. Are you a plotter or pantser? Are there any specific writing tools (books, software, a specific pen J ) you use to work on your novels?

 I am both, honestly. It depends on the project. Sometimes I just jump in with very little preparation and see where it takes me. And sometimes I plan, although I almost always deviate from my plan when the characters have other ideas.

Again, how I write depends on the project. I have a type of pen I like, and I will often write longhand into a special set of identical notebooks that I have picked for the project. It usually takes me about five notebooks to write a novel. Then I revise as I transpose it all into my computer, where I used Word. I am trying to learn Scrivener, which is cool, but it’s slow going.

 13. Are you currently working on any other projects?

Right now I am getting ready to submit a project to my publisher that I have had SO MUCH FUN working on. I’ve been writing a funny fantasy (think: teenage Princess Bride) with two of my author friends. It has been the most fun I’ve had writing in ages. We work on Google Docs so we can always see each other’s work. We laugh until our sides hurt. It’s so fun. I really hope it sells so we can finish it.

I have a book coming out in February, called THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE. I am really close to having the cover and book description ready to share, so keep watching my social media or my blog for that. It is very different from Unearthly, as it is a contemporary YA, but there are definite connections between this and Clara’s world that my readers will be able to recognize. It’s about a girl who is trying to figure out her life after her brother’s suicide.

 And I have a book due in September that I am currently writing, another contemporary YA. So I have to get cracking.

14.  What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication?

Well, there’s the usual: read, write, study. I found the study part especially helpful. I don’t mean you have to go get an MFA or study formally, but that you should take your education as a writer seriously and seek out form and theory and practice these ideas and play around with writing as a craft.

15.  What would you like to say to your young readers? Is there any advice that you would like to give them?

 To thine own self be true.

 Okay, so that’s Shakespeare, that doesn’t count.

 The great thing about being a teenager, in my mind, is that you still have so many choices ahead of you, so many possibilities. Find some kind of middle ground between not taking those choices seriously enough and taking them TOO seriously. Be mindful. But also let yourself explore, let yourself play, let yourself discover who you are and what makes you happy and what makes you smarter and what makes you kinder. And then go after those things.

Sheesh. That’s a lot of deep thought.

Read good books. They don’t even have to be my books. Just good books, books that make you think and make you laugh and make you want to be brave. There you go.

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Come back this Friday for the final part of the Spotlight Week, where I give away a SIGNED COPY of BOUNDLESS.

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This month’s Spotlight Week features the Supernatural Fantasy trilogy THE UNEARTHLY TRILOGY by author Cynthia Hand.

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UnearthlySeriesCollage zps12b6c29f modified Spotlight Week: Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand

 

Book 1: Unearthly Spotlight Week: Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand

unearthly modified Spotlight Week: Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand

464 pages, Paperback

Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural Fantasy

Published on November 1, 2011, by Harperteen

ISBN-10: 0061996173

ISBN-13: 978-0061996177

 

First Lines:

He’s standing with his back to me near my locker. A surge of electricity zings through me as  I recognize him.

 

Synopsis:

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Book 2: Hallowed: An Unearthly Novel Spotlight Week: Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand

hallowed modified Spotlight Week: Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed

432 pages, Paperback

Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural Fantasy

Published on December 26,2012, by Harperteen

ISBN-10: 006199619X

ISBN-13: 978-0061996191

 

First Lines: Bluebell’s not blue anymore. The fire has transformed Tucker’s 1978 Chevy LUV into a mix of black, gray, and rusty orange, the windows shattered by heat, the tires missing the interior a sickening blackened twist of metal and melted dashboard and upholstery.

Synopsis:

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

 

Book 3: Boundless (Unearthly) Spotlight Week: Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand

boundless modified Spotlight Week: Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand

448 pages, Paperback

Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural Fantasy

Published on December 23, 2013, by Harperteen

ISBN-10:  0061996211

ISBN-13: 978-0061996214

 

First Lines: “How you holding up, Clara?”

I jolt back to myself in the middle of my bedroom, a pile of old magazines strewn around my feet, which must have dropped when the vision hit.

 

Synopsis:

The past few years held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner ever could have anticipated. Yet through the dizzying high of first love to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she could no longer deny was that she was never meant to have a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seemed like the best option, so she’s headed back to California—and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

 As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

 

My Review:

I was lucky that I discovered UNEARTHLY  (Book 1 of the series) when its sequel, HALLOWED was already out, as I wouldn’t have enjoyed waiting a whole year before I found out what happened next to the characters I’d fallen in love with.

The characters are indeed what make the book such an intriguing read. Clara Gardner may appear to be your typical teenage girl, but she’s far from it. She’s a Quartarius– a quarter angel and in book one, UNEARTHLY, she discovers exactly what being part angel entails. In her world, everyone who has angel blood has a purpose to fulfill.  It’s a big burden to put on anyone, but more so on the shoulders of a sixteen-year old. The concept of free will adds to the drama, and Clara is constantly torn between accomplishing her Purpose or following her heart.

In Book 2, HALLOWED, Clara has to deal with many difficult things in her life. Not only does she have to deal with the consequences of her past decisions, she also has to try and uncover the secrets her own mother has been keeping from her. In Book 3, BOUNDLESS, stakes are raised even higher. She has to deal with the Black Wings, fallen angels who threaten the world she knows and everyone she loves.

Although Clara she is part angel, her reactions to the things that happen to her is all human. And that is what makes her such a relatable and sympathetic main character. The series obviously has the good vs. evil theme going on, but the author chose to keep God as a distant being who has no direct relation to the story’s happening. I found this refreshing for a story that has to do with angels.

Of course, it wouldn’t be YA if there wasn’t a love interest (or two).  And there is a love triangle in this story. Clara falls in love with Tucker, her  rugged cowboy-type classmate. The problem is, he is human and not at all a part of her great angel Purpose. Unlike Christian— handsome, all around good guy, who is also part-angel and clearly has everything to do with her Purpose in life. So many wonderful conflicts arise from this situation. Though there is the usual dose of teen angst and heartbreaks, the way the Clara’s relationships with both Tucker and Christian develops, was masterfully done.  And until the very end, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted Clara to end up with Tucker or Christian.

Reading through Clara, Tucker, Christian and the other characters’ personal struggles was like watching friends go through the worse possible situations, and not being able to help. As much as the books dealt with romantic love, it also heavily featured familial love. There were so many great emotional moments, and author Cynthia Hand is incredibly good at tugging on readers’ heartstrings.

Aside from the wonderfully drawn out characters, the setting also gave great depth to the story. Author Cynthia Hand portrays Jackson Hole, Wyoming so beautifully that I found myself wanting to book a plane ticket just to see the place for myself.

The plot was equally mesmerizing, with numerous twists and turns. The series wasn’t all about emotional conflicts. There were mysteries and questions that kept me constantly turning pages and lots of action sequences that kept me at the edge of my seat.

UNEARTHLY, HALLLOWED, BOUNDLESS and the related novella RADIANT are all great reads and I recommend you read them all.

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Tune in again on Wednesday for an interview with the awesome Cynthia Hand.

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