Friday, November 23, 2012

Guest Post: JA Campbell

Aine, Thank you for having me here today!

People always ask me where I get my ideas from. The vague shrug of… um… no idea, doesn’t usually satisfy them so I’ve tried to come up with a better answer over the years. The real answer is no book is the same. The first Clanless novel, Senior Year Bites came from a dream. A really short dream about a girl who got turned into a vampire her senior year of high school. A friend of mine and I both decided to write a page based on that story prompt to see how different they came out. The answer is quite different. Mine ended up turning into a novel, and then a series.

The idea for the second novel came from lots of brainstorming with my writing buddy about what could happen next. I’d been reading myths and said hey, this will be fun. I don’t want to give too much of a spoiler but there are shape shifters and vampires and sidhe in this one.

I didn’t plan the first novel out when I wrote it. At the time I was simply writing for fun. I did have to plan the second one much more carefully to make sure I tied up some of the lose plot threads, stayed consistent with the first novel, things like that.

I’m getting ready to start the next novel in the series and let me tell you, I agonized over it for a long time. The question of how to get the sidhe to leave my characters alone for good plagued me for ages or even if I could get the sidhe to leave my poor characters alone. Finally, one night, just before I was about to fall asleep, the entire plot dropped into my lap, figuratively of course. I spent the next hour or two jotting all the notes down, and so I know what I’m going to write for the last one. Now, I don’t outline, but having a general overview helps a ton.

So when people ask me for my inspiration, these days I usually say dreams and random ideas that don’t go away. If they stick around long enough to become a full length novel or a complete short story, chances are I’m going to write it, and hey, who knows… it might turn into a really great series. That’s the best.

Meg managed to survive her senior year of high school as a vampire, and now she’s looking forward to a relaxing summer with her friends before trying to tackle college. Unfortunately, some unfinished business from the previous year rears its ugly head and Meg is forced to deal with the Sidhe who are distinctly unhappy that she killed one of their kind last winter. Then Ann’s parents vanish while they are on their annual summer vacation in Maine and it’s up to Meg and the rest of the gang to come to the rescue. Though she is still trying to figure out who, and what she has become, Meg and her friends feel they are up to the challenge. That is until things really start to fall apart.

Bio: Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. You can find out more at her website.

You can find Summer Break Blues here: Bono Books, Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Omnilit.

Giveaway: And now for the good part. Decadent Publishing and I are giving away several books on this tour. You could win your choice of any Decadent/Bono Books ebook including Summer Break Blues, or Senior Year Bites. All you have to do for a chance to win is enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Contest is open internationally.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why I Love YA

When I was growing up, there weren't very many young adult books. Especially compared to now. In late elementary school, I read every Sweet Valley High book I could get my hands on. But that was about it. I didn't read much in middle and high school, but when I did read, it was adult fantasy. To be honest, I hated reading for a while. The books we had to read for school never kept my attention, and I felt like reading was dull and pointless.

I rediscovered my love of reading in my college years. I owe it all to Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. I went on to discover Kim Harrison, Laurell K Hamilton, PC Cast, and MaryJanice Davidson. For a few years I read somewhere between one and five books per year. I got burnt out on Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series and MaryJanice Davidson's vampire romance, and my reading slowed a bit. But then I started reading YA.

Around the time I started reading Kelley Armstrong, I started reading Harry Potter. And I enjoyed that. Some of my other early YA reads were Witch Child by Celia Rees, the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan, and then the Tithe series by Holly Black. But I only read those a few years ago, when I was becoming burnt out on so many paranormal adult series being so similar. In fact, I've dropped all of those series (except Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison).

I continued reading YA books, going to PC Cast's House of Night series and Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely. I loved Wicked Lovely so much that I went online to find her fan site (which is now her official site, and I'm global mod there) and met so many awesome people close to my age who were reading almost nothing but young adult. It was there that I got book recommendations and discussion on these fabulous books.

Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr continue to be two of my favorite authors. I'm going to be 30 next month, and I love YA books so much. I have trouble connecting with middle grade books sometimes, and often I find adult books bogged down with too much detail. YA books are often fun, fast reads. And they deal with real issues. I don't think I'd be quite the reader without my YA books. And this blog would probably exist as it did when I first started it (randomness).

Check out this awesome giveaway!

And... this giveaway also. Win free books and help give to charity just by entering.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Author Interview: Sarah Diemer (and giveaway)

If you follow my blog or follow my reviews on Goodreads, then you know that I absolutely love Sarah Diemer's work. I can't get enough of her stories. It's some of the most unique stuff out there. It's very original, and I find that very refreshing considering so many YA books are similar to other YA books.

I was lucky enough to score a little interview with Sarah!

1. What inspired you to become an author?

I've been writing books since I was six years old when I illustrated an EPIC VOLUME about a unicorn with a rainbow horn (and by EPIC, I mean RIDICULOUS). I was deeply influenced by my mother, and my Polish grandmother, Donda, who were constantly putting books into my hands or reading to me--at my insistence--almost constantly since I launched from the womb. My earliest memory is sitting in my grandmother's lap, being read to about a unicorn. You know, which explains everything about me. :D

2. You release books as both Sarah Diemer and Elora Bishop. How are they different?

I write my lesbian YA (Young Adult) fiction under Sarah Diemer, and my lesbian adult fiction under Elora Bishop. I chose to do it this way to differentiate as much as possible between the two genres, but my Elora works are read by my YA fans, and my Sarah works are read by my adult fans, and there’s lots of cross over. My works are categorized as “Adult” under Elora because they have older heroines, and are written differently, but there’s nothing super “adult” (THE OTHER MEANING ;D) about them at all, and they’re very comparable to my YA work. You know. Since I wrote both sets of stories. You can certainly read my Elora works if you’re a teen.

3. Your wife Jennifer is also an author. Are you the first to read each others work? Do you edit each others writing?

Definitely! Jenn is actually an editor, too, so that makes everything awesome and wonderful. We really ARE a cottage industry! *laughing* I also have a team of incredible women who beta my stuff--they're editors or writers or both, and they're absolutely priceless in their feedback. So much of what I'm capable of as a writer is because of the incredible support that my wife and these lovely ladies give me--they push me to the best I can be.

4. What is it like to self-publish? How does that process work?

Self publishing is intensely hard, but incredibly rewarding. You must write something worth reading, pay an editor to edit (or marry one! NO AUTHOR CAN EDIT THEIR OWN WORK PERFECTLY, IT DOESN'T WORK, PLEASE TRUST ME ON THIS.), pay a cover designer to design a cover (or have graphic knowledge), pay a formatter to format it (or have formatting knowledge), and then you must upload it, market it and do eleventy billion other tasks that you weren't ever told about. In return, you hold your destiny in your own hands, and you have the possibility of living the proverbial dream every writer has: working for yourself and being a self employed author. Every time I talk about self publishing, I sort of want to tell people: "it's dangerous to go alone! Take this!" and then give them a volume of hard-earned knowledge that took me almost two years to make enough mistakes to earn. But such a book doesn't exist. If you're looking to do self publishing, do enough research until you think you know everything. Then do a few more month's worth. And then try it. :)

5. Many self-published books have rather plain covers. And I know it's up to the author to get the cover done. Where do your beautiful covers come from and how much say do you have in how they turn out?

Aw, thank you so much! :) I really appreciate that. One of my very first jobs was a graphic designer, and I'm obsessed with design still--so I do all of my covers myself. :) AS SUCH, I get tons of say in how they turn out! *laughing*

6. You write romantic relationships between girls. Why do you choose to write it, and how important do you think it is for lesbian literature to be available for children, teens, and adults?

I personally believe that I have no choice. I'm a lesbian, madly in love with my wife, and I'm a writer. From the earliest of ages, I desperately looked for girls like me in the books and stories I was reading, and I never found them. It was devastating to me. So much so, that from a really early age, I was writing gay stories, because I wanted them so very much. There are so many people like me--girls and women who want stories that reflect them. So I *have* to tell these stories. It's also so incredibly important that straight people read stories about lesbians--you can't have empathy for people if they're invisible to you.

7. I know you're openly pagan. (So am I.) Does your faith influence your work? How?

I think that every aspect of an author is going to influence their writing. We write about experiences we've never had, but who we are is going to color that. Being Pagan is a deep core in my identity, as Sarah, as a woman, as a lesbian, as a writer. I think that my spirituality is very apparent in THE DARK WIFE, my retelling of the Persephone myth. Persephone is my matron Goddess, and I wanted to retell the tale for Her. But I also think it's visible, but not as apparent, in everything else I tell. I write a *lot* about death, the culture surrounding it and what happens to your soul after you've passed on. I don't believe that there are monsters who snatch you (like in my novel TWIXT), or a machine that recycles your spirit (like in my short story, "Far"), but I do believe that our souls live on, and that reflects itself in all of my stories.

8. What has been the hardest project you've worked on? The easiest? The most enjoyable?

The hardest project I've ever worked on is my novel, TWIXT. I've been working on variations of it for over five years now, and no single one has ever been what I wanted that story to be. I call it my "heartache" book--but I know it's going to get finished one of these days. Soon. :) The easiest and most enjoyable one has to be ONE SOLSTICE NIGHT. I LOVE that little book--it's such a happy romp, and those characters are some of my favorites I've ever written. A bumbling witch? A shape-shifting deer? A town where everyone can do magic? *laughing* People always tell me they'd love to live in Benevolence, the town in the story, and I always tell them I would, too. ;)

9. What are you working on now? Any exciting writing news to share?

I actually have some VERY exciting news to share. :) I am now represented by Liza Dawson and Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson Associates. This means that all of my current projects are VERY up in the air, and I'm hopefully going to have some extremely awesome news to share very soon--but until then, I must keep mum. :)

10. Have you and Jennifer ever co-written a story? If so, how did that compare to writing on your own?

Jenn and I have, and it's wonderful. Our writing styles are dissimilar enough, but similar enough where writing with each other is exciting and challenging and really kind of wonderful. Jenn and I have been working on--FOR YEARS!--the "sequel" to THE DARK WIFE, called ALIGHT. It's the first story we told together, back when we first got together, almost nine years now. :) Writing together has always been one of the things we did together that brought us closer.

11. Besides writing, what other artistic endeavors are you pursuing?

*laughing* What am I NOT pursuing would be a shorter answer! :) I'm a really creative person, and I'm always coming up with ideas and dreams and GLITTER PROJECTS. Together, Jenn and I run The Fable Tribe, where we make magical pendants out of old, unloved fairy tale books and original poetry. We're always working on an update for the shop--we fill it with shrines and magical objects and strange, sparkly things. We love that little shop. :) I'm working on knitting a prayer shawl for Jenn, a couple of pairs of fingerless gloves...a few sets of prayer beads and Goddess rosaries, and some Yule presents. Every area in our house is covered in glue and glitter and unfinished-but-patiently-waiting dreams.

12. What are some of your favorite books?

Oh gosh! So many! THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle is my bible. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA are my favorite books in existence. Every book Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce and Sarah Waters ever wrote is a glowing gem in my library. I love Libba Bray and Astrid Lindgren, Robin McKinley and Mercedes Lackey. But PATIENCE AND SARAH by Isabel Miller is my favorite book of all time. :) I think I could go on for hours...

13. What is your favorite sabbat?

*laughing* I always joke with Jenn that it's whatever happens to be around the corner. ;D But no, seriously, I'd have to say Samhain. I'm a Halloween girl, to my bones and back, and there's something about Samhain that fills my heart.

My site: Oceanid
My blog: Muse Rising
My Twitter: SarahDiemer
My Tumblr: Oceanid

And because I love Sarah's stuff so much, I'm giving away one copy of anything in Sappho's Boutique. Winner's choice! (Note: If you want a paperback, you must have a US address I can ship to. If you're out of the US, you get a choice of ebook.)

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