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Posts Tagged ‘Young Adult Novel’

juliana spink mills Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Juliana Spink Mills. Juliana Spink Mills was born in England, but grew up in Brazil. Now, she lives in Connecticut and writes science fiction and fantasy. She is the author of Heart Blade and Night Blade, the first two books in the young adult Blade Hunt Chronicles urban fantasy series. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and online publications. Besides writing, Juliana works as a Portuguese/English translator, and as a teen library assistant. She watches way too many TV shows, and loves to get lost in a good book. Her dream is to move to Narnia when she grows up. Or possibly Middle Earth, if she’s allowed a very small dragon of her own.

Juliana Spink Mills’s latest book, Night Blade, is a YA novel urban fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In the aftermath of the Heart Blade’s return, Del and Rose have different roads to follow. One leads forward, the other to the distant past. Rose is on a mission to infiltrate and double-cross the ultimate heist, and retrieve a game-changing prize. Meanwhile, as the Court of the Covenant prepares to meet, Del has a quest of her own. She must untangle her lost identity or risk her entire future. With the Blade Hunt prophecy in motion, darkness threatens to rise, and a new sword emerges from the shadows.

And a little “taste” of Night Blade:
  The vampire smiled at Raze. “How do you feel about a little undercover work?”
  “Undercover work? What kind?”
  “The dangerous kind. The sort of work that should suit Raze perfectly, since you’re so determined to leave Rose behind,” he said. “A challenge. You’re infiltrating a heist. I think you’ll make an excellent cat burglar.”

nightblade_front_mills Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Night Blade?

Night Blade is the second in my YA urban fantasy trilogy. The idea for the series came from a short story I was working on. That particular story was never published, but the world stuck in my head and kept growing, and eventually became the first book, Heart Blade.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

I think my two favorites are Camille, an immortal half-demon, and Ben a teenage witch. Camille is fun to write, because her personality is similar to my own (demonic immortality aside). As for Ben, I just like him. He’s had a lot of bad things happen to him, but he doesn’t give up. And, more importantly, he always tries to do the right thing, even if it’s going to cost him.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

Both my books were published by a small press. I think the advantages were that I was involved in every step of the process. I was given everything you can expect from a larger press—editor, copy editor, professional cover art—but additionally, because I worked so closely with the owner of the press, I was involved in a lot of the decision-making. It really was a lesson in what it takes to bring out a book! For a first timer who up to that point had only published short stories, it was a real learning experience.

The disadvantages of a small press are probably obvious, and center mostly around market reach.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m definitely a planner. That said, I’ve become a lot more organic in my process as I’ve gained confidence in myself as a writer. So now, instead of the rigid chapter outlines I used in the past, I tend to do a list of bullet points: key events that need to be incorporated. This gives me wriggle room to go ‘off road’ when I want, and I constantly update this list as the story progresses.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I was definitely a Narnia girl. I was gifted the full Narnia set as a going away present when I moved from England to Brazil at the age of eight. Brazil was new, and exciting, but also confusing and strange, so I absolutely connected with Lucy Pevensie and the rest of C.S. Lewis’ portal-travelling youngsters. I credit those books with a life-long love of fantasy novels.

What writing project are you currently working on?

After a much-needed break to write a sci fi thriller, I’m now working on Star Blade, the last book in my YA trilogy. The planning stage took ages—there is so much to fit in!—but now I’m up and running and delighted to be back in this familiar world of mine. I missed my characters!

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

My favorite bit of advice ever, and one I always pass along, is: “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Nothing happens overnight in publishing. If you love writing, allow yourself the gift of time. And keep writing!

Want to learn more about Juliana Spink Mills and Night Blade? Check out her:  WebsiteFacebook pageTwitterInstagram, and  Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Night Blade.

Thanks to author Juliana Spink Mills for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak) on February 21, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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cinder I’ve never tried to write a novel in November (National Novel Writing Month), but I cheer on my writer friends who make the attempt. And I salute those persistent friends who manage to complete a novel in a month’s time.

I’ve heard all the doubting Thomases and Thomasinas who say, “Why bother? Nothing good comes of writing a novel in thirty days.”

Actually, they’re wrong! Many NaNoWriMo novels prove quite successful, including one of my favorites, Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. Here’s the link to: Seven YA Must Reads That Started As NaNoWriMo Projects from the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog if you want to read more.

So keep on writing NaNoWriMo challenge-takers. I wish you success, and admire your dedication.

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0061-eWomenNetwork Thanks to author Gail Z. Martin for stopping by and sharing tips on how to make epic fantasy epic. And lots of links to free reads. Enjoy!

Making Epic Fantasy Epically Epic By Gail Z. Martin

By definition, ‘epic fantasy’ deals with sweeping storylines, plots that involve the rise and fall of kingdoms and dynasties, the fates of empires and massive battles. There are a lot of moving parts in a good epic fantasy, but if you do it right, it purrs along like a race car, taking you on a breathless journey.

That requires a lot of engineering under the hood—or between the covers, as the case may be. I’ve written two sprawling epic fantasy series (The Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle and The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga). They involve a large cast of characters, a big map, lots of battles, and complicated magic—which is a lot for an author to keep straight!

Shadow and Flame, the fourth (and final) book in the Ascendant Kingdoms series comes out in 2016, wrapping up that series. I found in this book that it’s as complex to wind down an epic series as it is to ramp it up. (I didn’t have quite that challenge with The Dread, the last book–for now–in the Chronicles series, because in my head, it’s not really the last book. There’s a seventeen year break in the action where the characters get to rest up and drink some beer, and then there’s more action coming their way in six more books I haven’t written yet. But since it’s not over for me, it’s not over. )

DEADLY CURIOSITIES-VENDETTA Which got me thinking about how epic fantasy works under the hood. No matter how big and sprawling your series will be, in your first book you’ve got to get people to care about your main characters or they won’t get to the truly epic part. It usually starts in one of two ways (or you can combine them if you’re tricky!) Either a person has a big problem, or a person has the chance to go on an adventure. Let’s look at both.

Sometimes it all begins with one person who has a big problem. If that problem could have been dealt with before it got out of hand, the world might have been able to stay as it was. But because the main character has to do something dangerous or brave or reckless because of the problem, the wheels begin turning and nothing will ever be the same again. Only of course, at this point, he/she doesn’t know everything’s about to change. Your protagonist only knows that he/she’s gone from having a big problem to having an even worse problem with no resolution in sight.

In hindsight, once everything blows up, you see that had the powers-that-be been a bit more fair, a tad less heavy-handed, a smidge less ruthless or greedy, they might have gotten to hang on to their status quo. But no, they had to piss off the wrong man (or woman) who then sets in motion the events that lead to the fall of the bad guy’s power base. That’s because whatever it was that cheesed off the hero, it wasn’t really an isolated problem. It was part of a larger, systemic rot that had been going on for a long time, getting more and more out of control, in a system unable or unwilling to reign in its abuses. And finally, they screw over the wrong person, who decides that he’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. Cue epic movie score.

Martin_WarOfShadows-TP[1] In other cases, the protagonist gets sent on a journey. It’ll be fun, they said. You’ll see new things and meet new people, they said. Instead, something goes wrong. The simple journey ends up drawing the protagonist into bigger issues that have their own ramifications. Things go from bad to worse, usually involving magic or soldiers. Companions are found along the way with the skills to get out of one jam, but those same companions often create the next dangerous situation. And all the while, the protagonist is being drawn into a funnel of events whose scope and ramifications just get bigger and bigger until the young person who was sent to market to sell a goat ends up fighting off the armies of evil or winning the throne.

A lot has been said about epic fantasy embodying Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, and that is at the heart of many stories, with plenty of twists and embellishments. But I think that’s because Campbell really described a process that happens in real life—at least, in a life where someone is seeking something better, maybe even enlightenment. We all in our heart of hearts want to go on an adventure that awakens greatness within us, connects us with people who are loyal friends, triumph over adversity and return home victorious, wealthier and wiser.

Two of the other pieces that need to come together include imagining the villains and the problems that confront the hero. Usually, the hero doesn’t start out intending to fight the Ultimate Bad Nasty of Evility. It starts with a corrupt guard, a thief, a garden-variety bully. But as the hero gets more enmeshed in the situation, the stakes rise. Larger and more dangerous villains appear. That means the author has to plan the story to escalate, envisioning how and why the small problems become big ones, how the small bad guys become big villains, how the forces against the hero and the forces on the hero’s side coalesce.

There’s a lot more that goes into making an epic fantasy epically epic, but these are a few of the big pieces. The next time you read epic fantasy, ask yourself ‘what’s going on under the hood and how did the author do that?’ You’ll have double the fun!

Print My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www.AscendantKingdoms.com

And now, readers, the good stuff:

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors before 11/1!

Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world. Launches Dec. 29

More Treats! Read an excerpt from Bounty Hunter a Jonmarc Vahanian Adventure.

Epically epic treats! Here’s an excerpt from The Summoner.

Lots of Tricks! New Blaine McFadden (Ascendant Kingdoms) short story set in Velant Prison No Reprieve.

Trick Or Treat with an excerpt from The Raven’s War.

Treats not Tricks! Excerpt from Creiton’s Sword.

About the Author:

Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.

Other books include The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) from Orbit Books and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books.

Gail writes four series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures, The King’s Convicts series, and together with Larry N. Martin, The Storm and Fury Adventures. Her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Realms of Imagination, Heroes, With Great Power, and (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) Space, Contact Light, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.

Thanks again to Gail Z. Martin for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have an epic day! – Vonnie

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cinderI am a fan of Marissa Meyer’s young-adult science-fiction Lunar Chronicles Series: Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. Plus, I must admit to be eagerly awaiting my copy of her newest book, Fairest.

As a reader and writer, I like learning about an author’s take on their book, characters, writing habits, etc. – which is why I’m delighted to share a link to a Goodreads question session with Marissa Meyer.

I hope you enjoy Marissa Meyer on Goodreads as much as I do.

And if you visit the site, please take the time to visit my page and become a friend and fan. Also, if you’ve read one of my books, please post a rating and/or review. Thanks. 🙂

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I’m always interested in other writers’ writing processes. As a rather disorganized, write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer, I know I could be more productive if I’d become more organized.

I decided to check out one of my favorite writers, Marissa Meyer’s, writing process post. For those who haven’t discovered this author, she’s a very busy lady who has written a fabulous YA science fiction series, The Lunar Chronicles. (Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress are on my bookshelf, and I await the next book in the series).

Here’s the link to Marissa Meyer’s series of posts on her Writing Process.  (As a bonus, she’s added videos, etc. into the posts).

This series of posts not only gave me some ideas, it also helped me clarify my writing process! I realized I had much more of a process than I’d given myself credit for. I, too, start with an idea, do research, outline characters, etc.

Writers, how about you? Do you have any writing process tips you’d like to share?

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I had a mixed relationship with an agent (and her assistants at the same New York City literary agency). I was so excited when she asked to represent my book, I briefly scanned the contract and happily signed with the agent and her agency.

The good news, Agent NYC read the book and gave me some good rewrite suggestions. Even when she handed my book off to her assistant, I wasn’t worried. Assistant Agent NYC gave me even more good rewrite advice.

Bad news, both Agent NYC and Assistant Agent NYC didn’t communicate often. Time slipped by, and I had no idea if my manuscript had actually made it onto an editor’s desk. Communications got worse, and Assistant Agent NYC #2 informed me she was taking over my book. The agency closed its doors a week later.

I thought I’d asked the right questions. Agent NYC had a credible background with other agencies before founding her own agency and she had clients who’d had books accepted and published, etc. I’d even met Agent NYC at an established writers’ conference where she was critiquing manuscripts. Still, I should have double-checked everything and been more “on top” of things when the communications started to become “few and far between.”

Skean copy Have I found another agent? Not yet, but I’m hopeful one of my upcoming projects will interest an agent.

Did the manuscript so poorly represented by Agent NYC get published? Yes, I submitted the manuscript myself to several small publishers. Its title is The Enchanted Skean, a 2014 Compton Crook Award Finalist, available from Amazon and elsewhere.

Here’s a link to an article about agents from Writers Digest (and the article contains additional links to more agent info).

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Skean copy As I’ve written before, every time I discover a new review of my books, my hands sweat and my heart thumps quickly. It’s always a little scary to see what a reader thinks of the worlds I’ve created. Perhaps they won’t like my story or fantastical world or language or characters or…

Thanks to those people who part with a few dollars and open the (real or virtual) pages of my books. I’m grateful for readers and for their support, both when they purchase my books and when they take the time to review them.

From Amazon, here are a few reviews of The Enchanted Skean:

“Vonnie Winslow Crist has written a fantastical story that brings the reader along for the journey. Young Beck is sent on a mission by his grandmother to bring his father’s bones back home. In the process he discovers the skean and finds out that it is enchanted. I loved this story. I found that the characters were very interesting and I wanted to know more about them. This book is a fun read for young adults and older.” – April Sue Billings

“Originally, I purchased this book for my nephew but was drawn in by the beautiful cover. It’s a wonderful read and I enjoyed the way the fantasy was presented…the protagonist was believable, and without being preachy, the book sends a good message. BTW, my nephew loved it also, and wants to know when the next one is coming out!”  – Haley’s Comments

“Loved this! Highly recommend for both middle readers and adult alike. I’ve read several of this author’s books, and she’s definitely an up-and-coming talent to watch.” – Katie (Hagerstown, MD)

You can find other reviews of The Enchanted Skean on this blog at Looking for Stars, Lucky Thirteen, and First Reviews of The Enchanted Skean.

Thanks again to my readers. Interested in checking out a copy? Here’s the Amazon link for The Enchanted Skean.

(BTW, if you write a review on Amazon or Amazon UK of one of my books, I might reprint it on Whimsical Words).

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