Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Interview with YA Author Amanda Clay @amandajclay



Amanda J. Clay is a writing YA and Adult fiction from Dallas, TX. A Northern California native, she had a fantastic time studying English and Journalism at Chico State University and then a very serious time slaving away for a Master’s degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton. When she’s not staring at a computer screen, she spends most of her spare time on some new fitness addiction and plotting world adventures.

Her latest book is the young adult novel, Rebel Song.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out how authors got the ideas for their books.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?

The very first incarnation of Rebel Song came about 22 years ago—no joke! When I was 12— after a childhood obsession with tragic love stories, fantasy tales of kings and queens, with gallant heroes sacrificing all and quite possibly suffering some unrequited love of my own—I actually wrote this short book about a princess who falls in love with a spy from another country and she betrays her kingdom for him. In the end she jumps off a cliff and kills herself so in retrospect it wasn’t a very uplifting story (I was a strange 12 year old, I admit). But I never forgot that tale and I’ve maintained this affinity for the star-crossed lovers since.

So fast forward a couple decades. I’m in Madrid, Spain, reading about the turmoil of Spain’s 20th century—from a monarchy to a dictator to back to a monarchy. And I realized that, while it’s strange to the Americans, royalty is alive and well in much of Europe. Additionally, many countries in Europe have undergone rebellions, dictators, civil war and more in the last fifty years alone. Sometimes there’s even a juicy love story thrown in there. I was fascinated by the history there and I suddenly knew I had to bring Rogan and Elyra’s story to life in a fresh new way.

When I describe the plot of Rebel Song to people, but tell them it’s contemporary, they often say, “Wait, it’s about a princess and a rebellion and star-crossed love? Sounds a little Medieval.” And it does sound like a plot of old. But it’s also a reality of today...Let me explain a bit of history about its inspiration.

And while the story is set in “modern-day,” I admit, the specific time period for the story is purposefully a little vague because I’m trying to avoid talking about real world events—it’s hard to talk about 20th century Europe and not discuss post WWII Communism, for example. I want the Rogan and Elyra’s story to just exist within itself and for the reader to not have to think about the outside world.

Can you tell us what your book is about?

Rebel Song is about a fictional country in Central Europe on the brink of revolution. Elyra is the heir to a collapsing monarchy and Rogan is the rising leader in the rebel faction. They meet and fall in love, but standing on opposite sides of what’s happening, they’re doomed.

Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?

Rogan, 17, is a winemaker from the provincial valley outside the city. He’s also the son of a famous rebel leader who was executed for treason when Rogan was a boy. Now that the rebellion is stirring again, Rogan is pulled into the rebellion as a rising leader.

Elyra, 17, is a the only heir to the throne of Arelanda. She’s headstrong and intelligent, but also idealistic and naΓ―ve about how corrupt her country has become. When she meets Rogan and learns more about the state of the nation, she’s compelled to work toward change within the government—and finds herself at direct odds with those in power.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?

To not be afraid! I can’t tell you how much of my career has been stunted by fear of the things I thought I couldn’t do. Growing up, telling people you wanted to be a writer netted you a lot of pitying looks and patronizing smiles—probably akin to a kid telling you they want to be an actor. “That’s nice sweetie, but what are you going to do for a JOB?” Haha. Like anything, this career takes a lot of work, but you can’t be afraid to just try—to put yourself out there. The worst thing people can say to you is no. The iPhone probably sounded insane too.

What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?

I talk to myself. A lot. That might be a byproduct of being alone all day every day, ha! Actually one thing I do that some might find odd is that I dress up for writing many days. I might still wear some comfy leggings and a tee, but I’ll do my hair and makeup. Put on some jewelry. It helps to take this job seriously. And don’t we all perform better when we look our best?!

Do you hear from your readers?  What do they say?

I do! And I love it when my readers reach out to me. Mostly they want to know when the heck my next book is coming out! I also often get asked how I get my inspiration and how I managed to finally just sit down and write that first book.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

The hardest thing I ever heard was right after I’d finished my first book and was showing it to agents for the first time. “The writing is just not there yet.” Ouch. And I was livid! I’d been an English major, I had a master’s in Journalism! I’d been writing as long as I could remember! I KNEW how to write. And I did. But it didn’t mean that the book was where it needed to be. I had to learn that things aren’t perfect on the first try. I never turned in an article or essay on the first draft. Shoot, I even edit my Facebook captions! So why didn’t I think that my book might need some work? It was hard to hear but once I allowed myself to accept it, it was great feedback. She wasn’t saying “you’re a terrible writer, don’t quit your day job.” She was saying, “It’s just not ready. Bake it a little longer.”

What has been the best accomplishment?

I think publishing that first book, really. It was holding a lifelong dream in my hands—very surreal. Because after that first book, you know you can do it. Doesn’t mean it won’t be tough and that you won’t have some ups and downs, but you can do it!

Do you Google yourself?

I used to in the beginning because I couldn’t believe I was actually coming up in searches, ha! I don’t so much anymore now.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Haha…next question. ;) I have a couple of finished books that will be published but are still being editing. I also have a handful of books I’ve started and been pulled away from for one reason or another. I admittedly am a bit of a racoon when it comes to writing. I get a shiny new idea and I’m so inspired I need to write it immediately! But like all ideas, the shine wears off and you’re still faced with the daunting task of writing a well-crafted story, which takes time and focus. So, those half-finished projects may never amount to anything, or I might have some inspiration and go back and finish them. I always make a rule to save every word I write, just in case it finds new life down the road.

Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?

Thank you! We authors couldn’t do what we do without our fans and we’re so grateful. The best thing a reader can do to help out their favorite author is to be an advocate for their work—write reviews (even very short blips are helpful!), tell people about books they’ve enjoyed and keep reading!


About the Book:

Caught on opposite sides of a budding civil war, a rebel leader and a modern day princess fight to
save their country from a corrupt Minister General in a fictional Central Europe.

The once prosperous European nation of Arelanda has been plagued with poverty and corruption since the failed rebellion tore it apart. Now, rebels stir again in the capital’s underbelly, vowing to depose the monarchy and overturn the unjust government.

Seventeen-year-old Rogan Elwood, son of a rebel leader executed for treason after the first rebellion, has borne a tainted legacy his entire life. As he is pulled deeper into conflict, Rogan must face his calling in the future of the rebel cause—waging his want for peace against his desire for vengeance. Everything changes when he falls for Elyra—modern, idealistic and determined to bring Arelanda a better future. She also just happens to be next in line to the throne—if the corrupt Minister General doesn’t beat her to it.

Caught in the midst of a budding civil war and surrounded by enemies on every side, Elyra and Rogan must fight to save themselves and their country.


ORDER YOUR COPY:

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Monday, July 10, 2017

🏰 BOOK BLAST: 'The Raid on Troy' by Murray Lee Eiland, Jr.


Title: THE RAID ON TROY
Author: Murray Lee Eiland Jr.
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 300
Genre: Light Fantasy / Historical Fiction / YA



The Greek raid on Troy is chronicled in the Iliad and the Odyssey. These poems are pillars of ancient literature and continue to be carefully studied. Homer, who lived in the 8th or 7th century BC, is credited as the author. The actual conflict has been dated from 1260-1180 BC or even earlier. The question is, how close is Homer’s account to real history?

In the Orfeo Saga volume seven there are some familiar characters from Homer. Their motivations, as well as their history, can be radically different. Memnon is a self-made man and a petty king who craves the fabled gold of Troy. His brother Menas is king of Sparta. They assemble a coalition to sack the city. Telemon, not eager to join the expedition, is moved to act after his daughter Elena is taken. He seizes the city of Mycenae and goes to Troy. Odysees might not be as clever or brave as the man described in Homer, but he joins the expedition out of greed. He soon meets Orfeo’s son, who is in search of his first real adventure. Orfeo is on the Trojan side, and has to face the assembled military might of Greece as well as Odysees cunning plans. The Greeks have Ajax, who they count on to defeat any foe in single combat. Can Telemon - now an old man - defeat the greatest Greek warrior and recover his daughter?

The Raid on Troy might not be any closer to real history than the ancient poems, but it does offer insights into what might form the basis of the stories.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon




Memnon knew the ship was hitting the beach. He heard the scraping of the hull against sand and
pebbles, and the angle of the deck changed as the prow rose higher. He had not seen the ship’s deck for days, nor had he been permitted to walk around on land for perhaps two years. Slaves on Theran ships were treated with about the same respect as sheep, only slaves could not even be eaten because of some Theran religious prohibition. Galley slaves were useful,but were neither expensive nor in short supply.

At age fourteen, Memnon had seen little else of the world, as he had been seized in a slaver raid as he and his brothers played on an unknown beach now well beyond remembering. He knew he was less than five years old at the time, and now he believed he was nearly fifteen, although no one had been interested in explaining the concept of birthdays to him. Memnon had learned virtually all of what he knew from other slaves in the orchards of Thera, where he had begun his working career by carrying buckets of water to the men who tended the trees and picked the fruit. He had been separated from the two older brothers seized at the same time, but recognized one of them as he was taken to his place at an oar on one of the warships the Therans used to exact tribute from various cities; Memnon had occasionally spoken with him when their different groups of oarsmen were allowed on deck
Memnon recognized that his brother burned with rage. Over time, Memnon found himself coming to understand its origin and nature. Although he could not recall much about his life before his abduction, he remembered a world with occasional comforts, and even times of celebration.





Dr Eiland is a psychiatrist by training, and has written about Near Eastern art and culture. His novels are set in the heroic past and feature fictional characters in a realistic matrix. He has a special interest in exploring how and why people lead. The books contain themes that are suitable for young adults who have an interest in history.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

🏰 AUTHOR INTERVIEW: 'Boardwalk Summer' Kimberly Fisk





A past recipient of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart Award, Kimberly Fisk is the bestselling author of Lake Magic. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, and too many four-legged critters to count.
Her latest book is the contemporary romance, Boardwalk Summer.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK




About the Book:




In the town of Tranquility Bay, summer is the season of second chances...

Single mother Hope Thompson has built a happy life for herself and her twins in beautiful Tranquility Bay, Washington. She doesn’t dwell on her painful past—especially not on the man who broke her heart all those years ago. But when Hope’s beloved son needs help, she takes a desperate chance and reaches out to her children’s father.

Nick Fortune lives life in the spotlight as a champion race car driver. He’s shocked to hear from Hope and even more surprised to learn that he’s a father. He immediately heads to the Pacific Northwest to confront the past—and the woman he once loved.

There, on the quiet lakeshore, Nick and Hope must work together to save their son—even if it means facing their complicated past—for a second chance as a family.

PRAISE FOR BOARDWALK SUMMER

"It was late. I only meant to take a peek but ended up reading BOARDWALK SUMMER in one delicious gulp, and I'm still thinking about the characters. A terrific read. Page turning and deeply emotional. You'll fall in love with these characters who have so much at stake. Highly recommended."
Susan Elizabeth Phillips

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble



As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out how authors got the ideas for their books.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?


Hi!!  Thank you for having me here today.  It’s always wonderful to connect with other readers and writers.  What a great question.  Like you, I also enjoy learning how authors hit upon that single idea that sparks a book.
I am not a fast writer by any stretch of the imagination so for me an idea needs to be incredibly strong as it will be the driving force that gets me to the computer for the next year.  Quite simply, BOARDWALK SUMMER started with a single question:  “What would a mother do for her child?” 

My answer was instantaneous:  ANYTHING.  Even contact the one person she swore she never would.  With that premise, my story was born.     



Can you tell us what your book is about?


I’d love to!  Boardwalk Summer is my favorite type of romance:  it’s the story of true love and second chances.  Of young love ripped apart by circumstances and then forced back together years later by a crisis.  It’s a story of how our past might shape our future but it doesn’t have to permanently define it.  I love reading about second chances because I believe we are all worthy of another chance.  And, yes, as a contemporary romance, Boardwalk Summer is absolutely about romantic love, but I think it’s about more, too.  It’s also about a parent’s love and devotion for their child.     



Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?


Ahhhhh.  Hope and Nick.  Two of my favorite people.  These characters have lived with me for such a long, long time but that’s probably a discussion left for another day.

Hope Thompson is a woman I’d love to have as a best friend.  She’s smart, funny, fiercely loyal and tries to find the positive in any situation.  And like so many of us—a mother who will do anything for her children.  Even reach out to the one person she swore she never would—the man who broke her heart years ago. 

As for our hero, Nick Fortune, well, he’s just plain yummy.  (Is that okay to say?!)  He’s handsome, sexy, smart but he’s also let his past drive his future.  Even if that meant walking away from Hope.  But because of one phone call, his whole world changes and he has to struggle to figure out if what he thought was important really was or if for the past sixteen years he’s been placing value on all the wrong things.   



If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?


BELIEVE.  A deceptively simple word that holds so much power.  It’s also a concept I struggle with daily. 

There are already so many obstacles blocking us from achieving our dreams that we need to be our biggest champions; if we don’t believe in ourselves, who will? 

Belief will drive us to sit down in front of our computer and write a story.  Belief will propel us to seek out help and guidance.  Invest in ourselves and our dreams.  And when the hard and uncertain times comes—as they surely will—believing may be the only thing that keeps us from giving up.      



What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?


I’m sure my family has a long list they’d love to share.  😊  But without a doubt one of them would have to be how I need silence to write.  I know a lot of writers who develop playlists to listen to while working or they write in busy coffee shops or even in their living room with the husband and kids nearby watching TV and chatting away.  How I wish that was me!  Unfortunately, the only voices I can hear while working are those of my characters in my head.  And boy the discussions we have!!   



Do you hear from your readers?  What do they say?


One of the greatest gifts writing has given me is the connection with other readers.  Women just like me who are crazy busy with jobs, families, LIFE 😊.  And, who also like me, love to escape into a great book.  To realize that sometimes that book is mine…well, it’s incredibly humbling.  Social Media has provided such a great, easy way for us to connect.  I hope if you’re on FB, you’ll drop by and say hello!!       



What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?


I think I’m in the minority here but I’m one of those writers that loves feedback.  I firmly believe in rewrites, edits and revisions.  I believe that looking at my work with a fresh eye can only make it stronger.  Now, having said that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to hear what others have to say.  I mean, how can it?  You pour your heart and soul into creating characters and a story that you hope will resonate with your readers and stay with them long after they turn the last page.  Hearing that those characters or that plot isn’t working for some…tough.  But in my day job as an assistant to an amazingly talented author, I’ve learned that your work can also be better, stronger, more engaging, if you embrace the revision process.  So when I sit down to write a first draft—I create that straight from my heart.  When revising/editing—I tuck my heart away (as much as possible) and work from an analytical point of view (as much as possible).


   
What has been the best accomplishment?


Without a doubt, the best accomplishment in life is my family.  Only because of them am I who I am.  They truly do make me whole.  But my best accomplishment in writing??  That’s a tough one!  Winning the Golden Heart (RWA’s highest award given to an unpublishes author) has to be near the top.  Because of that win, my career was launched.  But before that—before the win and signing with my dream agency and receiving THE CALL—I think joining my first critique group would have to be my best accomplishment.
It goes back to one of your earlier questions and my answer of “believe.”  If I hadn’t believed (at least enough) I would never have found the courage to seek out and join that group of amazing women/writers.  (Hi Tracy, Pipper and Suzanne!!)  And because of that step, I found the dedication, strength and courage to continue writing.    



Do you Google yourself?


Oh, wow!  I never thought of doing that.  Now I’m both intrigued (and a little terrified!!) at the prospect. 



How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?


There are two ways I can answer this—none and six.  I know, kinda confusing right??  But none because the first book I wrote is the one featured here today—though it had a different title back then.  (Finding Hope in case you were interested. 😊).  And six because I wrote and rewrote that first book so many times (yes, too many) before putting it away and starting on my second book—Lake Magic.  Which also had a different title.  As you’ve probably guessed by now, I can’t title a book to save my life.  



Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?


THANK YOU!!  I am incredibly grateful to each one of you who has—or will—take a chance on one of my stories.  And to show my deep appreciation, I’d love to send you some fun stuff.  Just visit my website (www.KimberlyFisk.net) and drop me note. 

It’s been great spending time here at Book Bloggin’ Princess and if you take away one thing from our chat today, I hope it’s this:  I hope you believe strongly enough to follow your own dreams and passions whatever they may be!!

Happy Reading!