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tanya lisle Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Tanya Lisle. Tanya Lisle is a novelist from Metro Vancouver, British Columbia who has series littered across genres from supernatural horror to young adult fantasy. She began writing in elementary school, when she started turning homework assignments into short stories and continued this trend well into university. While attending Simon Fraser University, she developed an appreciation for public domain crossovers and cross-platform narratives. She has a shelf full of notebooks with more story ideas than pens lost to the depths of her bag. Now, she writes incessantly in hopes of finishing all of them.

Thankfully, her cat, Remy, has figured out how to shut off Tanya’s computer when she needs to take a break.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00002] Tanya’s latest book, Static, is a fun read for those who enjoy mysteries. A quick summary for my readers: Harrison’s boyfriend, Max, is missing. Again. Or, well, his ex-boyfriend, he thinks. His memory of the last week is fuzzy. It’s while his roommate, Ally, is trying to help him that they get the phone call; Max has gone missing, and Willow—who’s supposed to be catatonic and locked away—abducted him.

Harrison sets out on a mission to find him, but he and his friends are placed under house arrest. Is it to keep them safe from Willow, or is Harrison being used for live bait? Trapped with the mysterious new Doctor Gethen who’s taken a keen interest in them, Harrison needs to make things right, find Willow, and get Max back.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Static?

This idea actually spun off of a scene that I originally came up with to torment a friend of mine that liked the first book, White Noise. Once I had it written down, I couldn’t get it out of my head and it just spiraled into a sequel from there. The scene where Max gets kidnapped again has been mostly removed from the book, but it’s still the inciting incident of the whole book.

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

That would have to be Mary. She made only a cameo in the first book and getting a chance to write her was everything that I could have hoped for. She’s been dragged along for this ride against her will and watching her deal with the bad situation, as well as her relationships with the other characters, has been fantastic and a lot of fun.

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

Like the rest of my books, it’s indie published. It’s given me the freedom to switch between genres, put out books on my own schedule, and find my own people to work with.

On the down side, it’s a more expensive option and I have to do all the marketing and promotion on my own. Which is a lot more difficult when it’s a sequel to a book that originally came out a few years ago, so trying to rekindle the excitement in an audience that’s since found other books is a little tricky. Hopefully, they remember and will bring more people along for the ride!

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

For my first drafts, I usually go in with a plan. I know who my main cast is, how I want them to move through the story, and where they eventually end up. By about the third chapter, I will have thrown half of that away and create a whole new road map based on how the narrative is going and new ideas. A few chapters later, I’ll do it again. And again. And again.

The story doesn’t end up being fully formed until I sit down to rewrite it. After a few months, I go back to the story, figure out what ideas really worked and which ones didn’t and then rewrite the whole thing again until it’s put back together into something fantastic.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I read this collection of Alfred Hitchcock short stories that was in the library which probably explains a few things about my stories. As a kid I read the stories and I was fascinated by the ideas and not at all impacted by the horror elements. I thought it was much more interesting than it was scary. I found I really liked the feeling of suspense and I spent a few years trying to emulate it as a teen. Even now, I think there’s still some of that influence in a lot of my narratives.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the last few things for Dead Air, which is Book Three, and the final book in this series so that it can come out in January. There’s just a couple small tweaks left for the paperback— and it will be ready to go!

I’ve also just finished a few drafts for another series, The Looking Glass Saga, and gotten another draft back from my editor to start working through, so I’m also working through that one when I have a bit of time between other projects.

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

It’s been said many times by many different people in many different ways, so I don’t have a direct quote, but it’s this: A bad draft is better than no draft. If you want to make something good, you’re probably going to make something not so good to start with, but it’s easier to edit something into perfection than it is to bring it forth fully formed as perfect. And really, it’s more fun making something terrible and finding those golden moments in it than it is to start with something amazing anyway.

Want to learn more about Tanya Lisle and Static? Check out her :
Website & Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon page, and Instagram.
Or better yet, purchase a copy of Static.

Thanks to author Tanya Lisle for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author L.J. Cohen on December 18. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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KathrynSullivan pic Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Kathryn Sullivan. Kathryn writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. Her Doctor Who-related works include the essay, “The Fanzine Factor,” in the Hugo winning Chicks Dig Time Lords and essays in Children of Time: Companions of Doctor Who and Outside In: 160 New Perspectives on 160 Doctor Who Stories By 160 Writers. She also has reviews in the Star Trek-related Outside In Boldly Goes and Outside In Makes It So. She is owned by a large cockatoo, who graciously allows her to write about other animals, as well as birdlike aliens. Kathryn lives in Winona, Minnesota, where the river bluffs along the Mississippi River double as cliffs on alien planets or the deep mysterious forests in a magical world.

She also mentioned, she couldn’t find enough stories with girls as the main characters when she was growing up, so now she writes stories where girls are the explorers, the wizards, and the ones who solve problems and rescue people.

kathryn sullivan book Kathryn’s latest book, Agents, Adepts & Apprentices, is an imaginative read for those who love short stories. A quick summary for my readers:  From EPPIE Award winner Kathryn Sullivan come stories of magic and off-world adventure sure to appeal to readers of all ages. Here are tales of wizards training apprentices and interstellar operatives protecting “primitive” worlds. How does one university cope with a student from very far away, and where do some wizards get their supplies? And what’s the deal with the cat whiskers?

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Agents, Adepts & Apprentices?
Several of the short stories in Agents, Adepts & Apprentices were inspired by things in the real world. “The Demons’ Storeroom” resulted after I was at a garage sale and wondered how a wizard might view the items there. “Transfer Student” was written while I was in college in the days before ADA and was my take on how an alien might try to maneuver around my campus. “Goodbye, Jennie!” was inspired by a newspaper article about a meteor shower.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
I think Salanoa, the wizard on the cover of the book. There’s a few short stories with her as a little girl (“Horsefeathers” and “Curses, Foiled Again”) when she’s learning to become a wizard, and a brief appearance by her as an adult in another story. She’s very determined, very smart and a good teacher. She appears again in my two YA fantasy books.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
Zumaya Publications is a small press that publishes both in trade paperback and in electronic formats. The advantages to publishing with a small press is that you have input to the cover art—and Zumaya found a wonderful artist who produced a gorgeous cover. Zumaya handled getting the book out in several electronic formats. Small presses are much more savvy about ebooks, which means the prices for those are much more reasonable than those books with the big traditional publishers. Royalty rates with small press are much better than with the big traditional publishers. The disadvantage is that small press books don’t have the distribution of the big traditional publishers.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
With the short stories in this collection, I was definitely a pantser. Some of those stories just started off with a character or a scene and went from there.

What was your favorite book as a child?
I found my dad’s science fiction collection at an early age, and the books that stuck with me were James Schmitz’s Agent of Vega, James White’s Sector General series, and a series that my dad borrowed from a friend and handed to me: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Lord of the Rings was much richer than the Edgar Rice Burroughs series I had read in my dad’s collection. Sector General, being a series set around an intergalactic hospital, had aliens as different as large caterpillars and multi-tentacled creatures working together with humans. Agent of Vega had an intergalactic agency which had women as main characters (which was not usual back then). I still see the influence of those books in my short story collection.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a middle grade/YA book set on a colony planet where the main character wants to be an explorer like her grandmother, who discovered the planet.

Want to learn more about Kathryn Sullivan and Agents, Adepts & Apprentices? Check out her :  Website and Facebook page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Agents, Adepts & Apprentices from Amazon or Zumaya.

Thanks to author Kathryn Sullivan for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Jennifer R. Povey on December 11. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Thanks to author Gail Z. Martin for stopping by and sharing her views on the Young Adult market. Enjoy!

0061-eWomenNetwork The View from Outside the YA Fence by Gail Z. Martin

At book signings, I frequently am asked, “What age reader is your book right for?”

That’s a hard one. It depends on the reader. So I ask, “What age is the reader you have in mind?”

Sometimes, the person is concerned that my books might be too adult for a teen or tween. Sometimes, they’re concerned that my books might be too juvenile for an adult.

How do I answer? It depends.

I wrote my Chronicles of the Necromancer and Fallen Kings Cycle series for adults, as I did with my new book, Ice Forged. But frankly, although my mother lived to be 89 years old, I would never have suggested that she read them. They’d have given her nightmares, and she would have feared for the welfare of my soul. They were too dark for her.

On the other hand, I’ve got three teenage children. Each of them was ready for different stuff at different ages. My oldest daughter had a teacher who decreed, in eighth grade, that she could only read college-level books for class credit. While that might have been great to challenge her vocabulary, the teacher seemed to have forgotten that many of those college-level books dealt with themes and world views that were over the head of even a very precocious 13 year-old. We spent that year having a number of “teachable moments”, and still found that there is no way to fully impart understanding to someone who just hasn’t lived long enough to understand certain perspectives. (That teacher remains on my “naughty” list for sheer cluelessness.)

My middle daughter listened in on all those teachable moments, and picked different books that led to different long car discussions. My son wasn’t interested in reading anything too edgy, although we’ve had those “teachable moment” discussions on video games.

As I head back into stores with Ice Forged, a novel where the adventure begins when the world ends, I’m sure I’ll get more people asking, “Who did you write this for?”

So here’s my personal set of questions that I ask of parents when deciding whether or not my books are right for their teen or tween:

–Has he/she read fantasy books with some detailed battles, scary elements and character deaths? (Like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter?)

–Do they like supernatural elements?

–Are they comfortable with more mature themes like death and betrayal?

–Are they OK with some cursing? (Swear words and vulgarities appropriate to the language style of particular characters.)

Gail Z Martin Ice Forged As I said in the beginning, I wrote my books for adults, and that’s the target market. At the same time, I’ve picked up readers age 13 and up who had the maturity and the reading experience to enjoy the books. I get letters from readers of all ages who loved the books and the characters. Did my youngest readers pick up on everything I put in the books? Maybe not (but then again, there were probably some adult readers who missed things, too). What matters is that they had a good roller coaster ride of an experience and hopefully left still hungry for more of the genre.

Likewise, well-written YA books rightfully attract large adult readers because they have depth and yet retain their sense of wonder. I’m a big fan of Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson books and other books that I read right along with my kids and loved. And I’ve also questioned and challenged the unrelenting darkness of some YA (and adult) books, because I don’t believe that being “real” is the same as being depressed, cynical and bitter.

So that’s my two-cents. Personally, I think that categories like “YA” are arbitrary designations used mostly to help booksellers and libraries determine where to shelve books. I know that when I was a teen, long before the “YA” designation, I was chomping through some books that would have turned my mom’s hair white had she but known. At the same time, there were a few books I picked up and put back down again because I found them to be too much. (I’ll admit that it was probably a mistake to read Deliverance when I was 10.)

Ultimately, we find those boundaries for ourselves. We delight in sneaking a peek at the “forbidden” books that mom thinks are too much for us (but that we’re actually ready for), and hate some of the books our teachers think are developmental but are just plain despondent. But that’s part of the joy of reading, as we discover uncharted territory and find what speaks to us.

So don’t get too tangled up with categories. Read the books that speak to you, regardless of genre. Don’t worry what other people think about what someone “your age” should be reading. Read what you love, and don’t let people pressure you into reading books that detract from your love of reading. At the same time, stretch yourself occasionally to read something uncomfortable, even upsetting, if the story is worthwhile. A good book can change your life.

Gail Z. Martin’s newest book, Ice Forged: Book One in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), launched in January 2013. Gail is also the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series (Solaris Books) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (Orbit Books). For more about Gail’s books and short stories, visit http://www.AscendantKingdoms.com  Be sure to “like” Gail’s Winter Kingdoms Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @GailZMartin  and join her for frequent discussions on Goodreads.

Read an excerpt from Ice Forged here: http://a.pgtb.me/JvGzTt

Thanks again to Gail Z. Martin. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and another new feature coming in February. Have a magical day! – Vonnie

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I’ve finally written a back cover blurb for, Owl Light, my upcoming collection of speculative tales. (Audible sigh of relief!)

I readily admit, I hate to write cover blurbs.  I’m never certain which 5 to 10 word summery per story will make readers want to pick up my book. Not to mention which tales to summarize. I also know many review and interview sites will use the cover blurb to introduce me and  to publicize the book. And I know the blurb needs to be brief (but not too brief).

 So how do I go about writing a blurb? In the case of Owl Light, I wrote a phrase about each tale in the collection. Then, I picked the 7 story descriptions I liked the best. After rearranging a couple of the phrases so they didn’t all start with “A,” I added an introductory sentence which  both mentions the book’s name and gives a 7 word summary of the entire collection.

Next, I wrote a concluding paragraph that invites readers into the world of Owl Light, making sure to mention the book’s name. This is important, since I want readers to remember the title. By the way, the very last sentence of the blurb is a bit of a challenge to readers in the form of a warning.

Though not written specifically for the Young Adult market, Owl Light is YA-friendly. I don’t mention that in the blurb, but my choice of language and the tone of the paragraphs implies PG or PG-13 content.

Did I write a successful cover blurb? Only time will tell! My editor needs to approve it, and my readers will have to let me know if it “works” for them. The blurb is printed below. Does it make you want to read Owl Light?

“In Owl Light, mystery and magic are close at hand. A deer hunter encounters the Daughter of Winter. Ghosts join a holiday celebration. A clockwork owl is the key to preventing murder. A gravedigger unearths a vengeful trow. To save the woman he loves, a dwarf strikes a bargain with faeryfolk. A sideshow attraction wishes to be normal with unexpected results. And an anthropologist must choose between her modern world and an ancient culture.

These stories and more dare the reader to step into Owl Light, where early stars flicker, owls wake from slumber, and shadows appear where shadows ought not be. But be warned, Owl Light dims to darkness, dreams change to nightmares, and dawn is more distant than you know.”

Cold Moon Press is hoping to have Owl Light available by Halloween 2012 – which is most appropriate since one of the tales is a Day of the Dead story (or actually, a Night of the Dead story).

Update: Owl Light is now available from Amazon.

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 All 3 of my eShort stories: Assassins, Sideshow by the Sea, and Bells, are YA/Cross-Overs. YA (young adult) books are written for the teenage reader. But some books that feature older teen and young adult characters, like Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-werewolf “Twilight” series, cross-over and become bestsellers in the adult book market.

Adults of all ages can enjoy a Cross-Over book’s plot twists, varied characters, and carefully constructed world. One of the earliest Cross-Overs I purchased for my bookshelf was JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Though Bilbo Baggins is middle-aged in human years, in hobbit years he is a young adult. Tolkien meticulously built a complex world with its own races, geography, history, creatures, rules of war, clothing, and magic.

The book was a precursor to The Lord of the Rings trilogy which also features a young hobbit, Frodo, as the protagonist. Adding to the YA feel of The LOTR trilogy is the boyish friendship of Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. But the tangle of plots, subplots, themes, and characters that weave their way through The Lord of the Rings are rich enough to snag countless adult readers.

C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and the rest of his Chronicles of Narnia are also YA/Cross-Over books. Written for the teen (and preteen) reader, the series continues to be read by adults young and old.

Another Cross-Over series I’ve filled my book shelves with is Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, The Wishsong of Shannara, etc. These aren’t really YA books, you might say. But I submit to you that indeed they began as a coming of age story of 2 young men, Shea and Flick, in a carefully crafted world. And then, the Shannara books topped the New York Times bestseller list and became one of the favorite fantasy series of many adult readers.

The last cross-over series I’ll mention is J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine, the three main characters in Rowlings’ classic coming of age tales, begin their literary journey as 12-year-olds. And as such, attracted a faithful readership of preteens and teens. But it’s the cross-over into the adult market that has help make the books one of the most successful fantasy series ever published.

 I’m not the only one to notice and celebrate the increase in both the numbers and quality of YA/Cross-Over books. The Baltimore Sun, March 14, 2010, p.4, A&E section featured an article by Susan Carpenter in which she quotes Lizzie Skurnick, author of a collection of essays about YA literature: “I think part of the reason we’re seeing adults reading YA is that often there’s no bones made about the fact that a YA book is explicitly intended to entertain…YA authors are able to take themselves less seriously. They’re able to have a little more fun…”

 And that’s why YA/Cross-Over books Rock!

They’re entertaining, enlightening, and thought-provoking – but most of all – they’re fun! So why not check-out my YA/Cross-Over story, For the Good of the Settlement And soon, you’ll be able to read some of my other YA/Cross-Overs: The Return of Gunnar Kettilson in Cemetary Moon and Gifts in the Dark in Dia de los Muertos.

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