Archive for the ‘ya fantasy’ Tag

Interview with Jenna Nelson   1 comment

Jenna NelsonToday’s interview is with Jenna Nelson, whose stunning book cover got my attention on Twitter. Welcome to the blog, Jenna. Tell us something about yourself.

Currently, I’m the VP of Marketing at an accounting firm, and that’s how I pay my bills. My husband of 13 years, and my saved-from-the-pound-pup Clancy, tolerate me, which is much appreciated. I grew up in Minnesota, but have lived in Los Angeles for the past 20 years.

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My first story was a screenplay, actually, and that was about 15 years ago. I’ve always loved writing, but it was never a calling for me until quite recently.

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I love writing speculative fiction. But I read everything – Non-Fiction, Thrillers, Historicals. I just love a good book!

What are you passionate about?

Well, I’m hard of hearing. And the hearing industry is the wild, wild, west. They can do what they want, charge whatever they want, and we are at their mercy. Do you know hearing aids are not covered by insurance? They cost, on average, 5k-7k and last 3-5 years. Do the math. It’s outrageous. Along with a close friend, I’m trying to create a hearing aid that has very little cost and works even better than what’s on the current market.

Wow! I did not know that about hearing aids not being covered. I have deaf family members, but they’ve never brought this up. Good luck with that. What is something you cannot live without?

Coffee. I’m very much a foodie, and the list is too long, but I’m also a cheese fanatic. Smokey gouda…to die for.

Oh, yeah! Love gouda with fruit! Yum! What sort of research do you do for your novels?

For this book there was quite a lot, because it starts in Victorian London. So the dress and mannerisms and setting were all things that were unfamiliar to me. And the verbiage was maddening. There were so many words/phrases I wanted to use but couldn’t. Like the word “tad” came about after 1875. Very disappointing!

I’m learning stuff all over the place here today. Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

I’m a pantser. I usually know how the story will begin and end. The middle is anyone’s guess. I like to let my characters dictate.

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

I would probably do a lot of hiking. I love the outdoors and nature and would probably take an obscene number of pictures. Of course I would have books! My TBR pile has close to 100 books right now – maybe I could make a dent! Back in the day, I was a city gal. Now, I much prefer wide open spaces. The thought of being in a cabin in Alaska makes me kind of giddy.

We own the land now, so if the budget works out, we’re building the cabin next year. My husband jokes it could be a writers retreat. Talk about your books individually.

The book that was just released is a YA Fantasy called The Snow Globe. It’s about a girl in Victorian London who can weave the elements into inanimate objects and living creatures. She works in her aunt’s apothecary and emporium, and when a hooded stranger offers a snow globe in trade for medicinal herbs, she accepts. Soon thereafter, her aunt betroths her to one of London’s wealthiest men so she decides to run away to escape the marriage. She falls down a veritable rabbit hole into Winterhaven, the world inside the snow globe. Chaos ensues from there!

I love that about fantasies. What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

Joy. I love being transported when I read, and I hope anyone who reads The Snow Globe feels the same. Plus, my heroine is flawed but still strong. I want girls to feel empowered once they read that last page.

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Well, I had not one but two agents for this book. Neither could sell it for various reasons. So I decided to rewrite it from third person to first, and I added 10k. At that point, I decided it was best to go it alone.

You have experience with both traditional and indie publishing. There are people who believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

I think the mid-list is fading, because trade publishing doesn’t have the marketing muscle to put into those books. I think trade will continue to thrive for the name authors and celebrities. For the rest of us, I think Indie might be the answer.  It is definitely the future, but how well we can thrive is another story. With 1MM books released each year, there is definitely a glut happening.

I certainly agree with that. It’s hard for even a high quality book to be seen in those numbers. What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?

Control. I set my own deadlines. I keep what I feel is important to the story. I choose my own cover. Oh, and I make 3x per book what trade authors do, which is nice.

That is a definite advantage. What do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Advances. It’s nice to get the money up front. And, the elusive “stamp of approval” from the publishing industry. You are deemed worthy in the traditional realm. Self-publishers, not so much.

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

I say platform, great cover, and most of all, a great book. It might not be insta-success, but hopefully if you write a great book, word of mouth will help you catch fire.

Speaking of which, who designed your gorgeous book cover?

The incredibly talented Ricky Gunawan:


Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

I do! I know this because I had multiple agent offers on this book. I know this book is well-written because I did not rush. That’s any writer’s problem, especially those who self-publish. They just want their books out there right away, instead of waiting until the product is truly ready. Also, hire a good editor. You don’t need a lot of money to self-publish, but you do need some, and this is one of those places where you do not want to cut corners.


How do readers find you 

Jenna Nelson Home Page

Jenna’s Amazon Author Page 

The Snow Globe



Interview with Siobhan Davis   4 comments

Destiny Rising banner

Today’s interview is with Siobhan Davis, author of the True Calling series. Welcome to the blog.  Tell us something about yourself. (Where are you from, what do you do to pay the bills, significant relationships, as little or as much as you want).

I’m a wife to Trevor and mother to Cian (14) and Callum (9). Until recently I worked as Head of Human Resources for an indigenous IT company, but I chose to turn my back on my corporate career this year to focus full-time on my writing. I write YA science fiction fantasy romance as those are the types of books that I love to read. I live in the Garden County of Ireland, close to the sea. Some of the things I love: reading, reading, and more reading, big Hollywood blockbusters, soppy love stories, make-up, shoes, bags, anti-wrinkle cream, coffee slices with lashing of cream, the color pink, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Jennifer L. Armentrout’s amazing YA series’, Robert Pattinson, Matthew McConaughy, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kate Winslet

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Deep down, I’ve always known that I wanted to be a writer, but I was afraid to even admit that to myself. I was an avid reader from a very early age and I was never without a book in my hand (that is still the case to this day. My husband regularly threatens to withhold my Kindle.) My favorite subjects in school were English and History and I majored in History in college. My corporate job involved tons of writing and I’ve had several articles published in Irish journals. But most of all, I was constantly dreaming up stories in my head and imagining fictional worlds and characters. In some ways, I think I’m more at home in imaginary lands than I am in the real world. I was very focused on my corporate career, and once I got married, juggling my family life around work became the priority. But I was always writing bits and pieces, and as a member of a writing group, still harboured ambitions for a writing career. In early 2014 the timing finally felt right and I took the plunge and released True Calling. This year I took the even riskier decision to walk away from my corporate career to really give my writing dream a chance.


Tell us about your writing process.

I mainly write in my home office though I sometimes go to the coffee shop with my husband and I write while he reads. I bring a glass of water with me and accept copious amounts of cups of tea on the days my husband is at home. I like to shut the door and hibernate for a few hours until I’ve written my requisite 4,000 words. For me, that’s the equivalent of a chapter a day and it usually takes me about five hours to draft.

I’m a hybrid plotter-slash-pantser and I have a pretty fail-proof system in place at this stage. I could never sit in front of a blank screen and start writing a book without having a decent outline of the story in advance. I am quite structured in my approach to my craft so I do a fair amount of background work before I actually sit down to write.

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I love reading and writing YA and it’s been my favorite genre for the last eight or nine years. In particular, I enjoy YA science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and dystopian; less so contemporary YA. I’m pretty partial to space opera, aliens, angels and demons, magic, witches and wizards, and fae. I’m not really into vampires, werewolves, or zombies. I’ve also recently gotten into NA and I read crime/thrillers and a small bit of contemporary women’s fiction as well. I write the types of YA books that I love to read – books with tons of action and adventure, heart-stopping swoony romance, strong characterisation and world building with a fast paced plot and plenty of suspense/intrigue/twists and turns.

What is something you cannot live without?

My husband and two sons. They are my world.

When you are not writing, what do you do?

Read. Drink wine. Eat at nice restaurants. Spend time with my family. Walk on the beach by my house. Go to the movies. Catch up with friends. Though not necessarily in that order!

If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your series, what would you say?

True Calling is a YA sci-fi romance trilogy with a unique paranormal twist, containing a perfect blend of action, adventure, romance, conspiracy, loss and survival. Set amidst a controlling regime and an unravelling new world order, the plot moves between two different worlds (utopian vs dystopian) and is relayed from two distinct perspectives.

Cadet Ariana Skyee’s life is turned upside-down when the government on Planet Novo announce the introduction of an e-pageant—‘The Calling’—which compels every 17-year-old into impending marriage and parenthood. Forced to participate in the elaborate, reality TV-style assessment process which will identify her future spouse, Ariana is distraught at being compelled to marry and have children at such a young age. Confounded by the influx of dreams of the mysterious Zane, Ariana wonders whether the government-sanctioned memory erase has seriously messed with her mind. She falls for fellow Cadet Cal Remus as the pageant gets underway, coinciding with a series of tragic events which rock her world.

The True Calling series will appeal to readers who have enjoyed any of the following series: Matched, The Selection, The 100, 1984, The Hunger Games, Across the Universe.

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

As I mentioned previously, I could not sit down in front of a blank screen and start writing a story from scratch, without a decent outline. I’m quite structured in my approach, although it’s pliable. I map out the world, the back-story, draw locations and maps, conduct vital research, and create my character bible, before I sit down to work on the plot. I plaster my walls with images of actors who are a good representation of my characters, and pictures of different worlds and scenes that are typical of the world I’m absorbed in. I usually write four to five pages summarizing the plot and then break it down chapter by chapter. However, when I sit down to write the first draft the story always goes off on a tangent I was not expecting and the plot develops organically. Also, as I’m immersed in writing a book, my mind is churning with ideas all the time and I’ll often think of additional sub-plots or some new suspense or conflict I can add to the plot, when I’m driving, walking, listening to the radio, on excursions with my kids, in the shower, etc.


Davis Beyond ReachWhat point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

First person present tense because it feels most natural to me to write this way. It always feels more ‘real’ to me and more ‘in the moment.’

Do you head-hop?

Yes, when there is a need, and only in a very structured way. My True Calling series is largely narrated by Ariana Skyee (our MC) but Zane Anders also narrates a specific part in all three main books and my novella, Light of A Thousand Stars, is told exclusively from his perspective. In Destiny Rising, we also hear from Cal Remus (he has his own part.)

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

I did initially submit True Calling to some American agents and while I got some very encouraging responses, I was also advised of the difficulty in acquiring publishing contracts in the current marketplace. I was already in two minds over whether to submit or not, so when I received this feedback, I decided to throw everything into self-publishing. As a model, it also suits me, because I am a very self-sufficient person and I like to be in control. This is my writing, my business, and I would like to call the shots.

Davis True CallingThere are people who believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

There is no doubt that traditional publishing is going through a difficult time and it will face further challenges in the future. With the advent of the digital era, consumers want information faster, and readers want books NOW! Books traditionally published take far longer to reach the market than self-published books, and unless they look to address that—and their often exorbitant price point—then I think their market share will continue to decline. That said, I think there’s space for a hybrid-type approach where Indie authors with successful books continue to own the digital rights but sell the print rights, thereby helping to bring their books to an even wider audience. I can’t see the eventual demise of the printed book coming for a long, long time.

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

The degree of control I have and my ability to get my work to market far quicker than the traditional publishing route. I make all the decisions that influence my writing business and that is very empowering.

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

There isn’t much that the Indie author can’t outsource or purchase as a service these days. The majority of promotion and marketing continues to fall to individual authors, irrespective of how they are published. For me, particularly as an Irish author writing largely for the American market, access to American retailers and libraries is something I miss out on. If I had a traditional print deal that wouldn’t be an issue.

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Absolutely, and there are tons of self-published books out there of a very high standard that are equally as good as books that are traditionally published. While writing is creative by nature, it is also a business, and all new businesses have up-front costs and require ongoing investment. I firmly believe in investing in my writing and for that reason I employ a graphic designer to create all my books covers and banners, hire a copy editor and proof reader for every piece of work I release, and have a marketing assistant to help me promote my books. I also avail of other services from time to time as the need arises. While I usually write my first draft fairly quickly, I spend a huge amount of time self-editing and I have built a reliable, credible BETA team who help me with developmental editing. Several bloggers and reviewers have commented on the high quality of my work and I’d like to think that is testament to the fact that my process works.


Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

I am a member of the Imagine Write Inspire writing group which was set up by award-winning Harper Collins author, Carmel Harrington. There are 31 of us in the group and it’s primarily a Facebook writing group though we do meet up for events and conferences from time to time. Everyone is very encouraging and supportive of each other and we set little writing challenges and goals every day. A couple of the girls are on my BETA reading group and they have been hugely supportive of my True Calling series from the outset. A few of the other girls really love the series and they buy all the books. I’ve returned the favour for some of them and it’s been great to give back. Mutual encouragement and support like that is genuinely priceless.

Where can readers find you and your books?




Amazon Author:

Destiny Rising (True Calling Book 3)

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