Jul 24

Welcome to the Big Reveal
 

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
 

Old fashioned book or E-reader?

 

 
Crystal Collier
I do both. I’ve read on the computer, kindle, and tablet. I prefer computer reading for editing, but for pleasure reading, it’s most comfortable to kick back with my kindle. Still, I LOVE the feel of paper. My reading is sometimes 50/50, and sometimes as high as 70/30 in favor of digital media.

 

Jessica Sayler
If you would have asked me this question a few years ago I would’ve been adamant that I would always love my paperback, but now that I’ve been using an e-reader I’ve found I love it. I have a Kindle and use it at home and I also have the Kindle app on my iPhone. I love the convenience of it. I always have a book with me and they sync to each other and keep my page. I love that I can read at night and not bother my husband cause it lights up just enough for me to read. I still do read some paperbacks, but for the most part I read everything on my phone or Kindle.

 
Madeline Mora-Summonte
I still prefer physical books but I do read ebooks occasionally, and I plan on reading more of them when I get my iPad mini. :)

 

Rebecca Barrow
Old fashioned book. I have read a couple of books on my iPad but I just can’t get into it. (I still buy actual albums instead of downloading, so maybe this is just a thing I have.)

 
Chad Morris
Both. In general, I prefer paper, but I love having books on my all on the time on my Kindle app. I also love audiobooks.

 

Shelly Brown
Paper books all the way but I read a lot on ereaders. They are more convenient for carrying in my purse so I have them on me all the time. I read on my phone on apps most of the time even though I own a kindle.

Do you prefer ‘real’ books or e-books?
 

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Jul 19

Welcome to the Big Reveal
 

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
 

Do you prefer writing or editing?

 

Shelly Brown
Writing. I’m still trying to like editing.

 
Crystal Collier
Yes? Until about a year ago I really preferred editing, but this magic moment smacked me over the head and suddenly I understood the love of first drafts—probably because I adopted an in-depth outline and cut out much of the guess work. But editing? I could do that all day, every day.

 

Jessica Sayler
I prefer writing because I can let my imagination go crazy. I don’t have to worry so much about all the technical stuff, I can just have fun with my story.

 
Madeline Mora-Summonte
I don’t have a preference – I like them both for different reasons. Writing is wild and limitless, pure imagination and crazy creativity. Editing is taking all of that and taming it, pruning it, so it takes a shape that can be easily understood/read.

 

Rebecca Barrow
Editing. Drafting is really difficult for me—it takes me so much time and I have to force myself to spend the time doing it when I don’t want to. Editing is when I can finds ways to make the words say what I actually want them to, and seeing a story go from that first draft to a more polished product is always a great feeling.

 
Chad Morris
Writing. I love the creation of it. I don’t mind the initial rounds of editing because I can feel my work getting crisper, stronger, better. But after that, it gets harder and harder to go through my manuscripts.

Do you like writing or editing better?
 

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Jul 10

Welcome to the Big Reveal
 

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
 

Do you prefer writing with real or imaginary settings?

 

 
Chad Morris
I like the imaginary stuff. Two of my recent reads had very intriguing settings: Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and I broke out of my genre and read Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson. Of course, I pretty much love Cragbridge Hall. I usually only prefer real settings, when the story is true.

 

Shelly Brown
I’m a little bit obsessed with fictional settings in my writing. As a child I struggled with contemporary novels and that probably sways my feelings. Except for Nancy Drew. I could read those all day long. Nowadays I can read either just fine.
As far as a book with a fabulous setting there’s always Harry Potter. Setting was a HUGE character in those books. From bright fragrant candy shops to dank, snake-infested basements. From velvet-draped castle dorm rooms to the wind-whipped Quittich field. I could go on and on but it is clear that J.K. Rowling went through some trouble to make her locations memorable.

 
Crystal Collier
I love ANYTHING that takes me away. A time period, a foreign country, a new culture? I’m a sucker—as long as it doesn’t make me cry. I mostly read YA to stay up with my genre, branching occasionally into romance and thriller.

 

Jessica Sayler
I like to write both. With imaginary you can make up anything you want and anything goes, but with real you already know what’s there so that can be nice too. I also like to read both. Kelley Lynn’s Fraction series has beautiful imagery. It’s fantasy so the world she builds is fabulous and she does an amazing job of putting you right there with the characters.

 
Madeline Mora-Summonte
Most of my work takes place in “the real world” but I usually create the setting – making up the name of the town, etc. In my reading, I love when the setting is so strong it becomes a character in its own right, but I also enjoy when the setting is so recognizable that it fades into the background and I can focus on the story itself.

 

Rebecca Barrow
I would say that I do a mix of the two—I write contemporary, so my stories are set in the real world, but I often make up the actual towns or cities that I set them in. I find it easier that way, because no-one will be able to tell me that I got a specific detail of somewhere wrong. I mostly read contemp so I’m usually reading real settings, but a really good fantasy world will draw me in too. One of my absolute favourite worlds is Lyra’s Oxford in NORTHERN LIGHTS (and all the other worlds that appear in the rest of the series, too).

Do you prefer writing with real or imaginary settings?
 

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Jun 26

Welcome to the Big Reveal

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.

 

Is writing your real job?

 

Rebecca Barrow
Sadly, writing is not my real job. I work as a library assistant, so at least I’m still surrounded by books all day! I’ve been writing seriously for six years now. I wrote little stories when I was younger and the beginnings of about a thousand novels that I was sure were the best ideas in the entire UNIVERSE when I was 12 or 13. Thank God they are nowhere to be found now.

Chad Morris
I still have a full-time job writing curriculum for high schoolers. So, I write a lot. I didn’t write much as a kid. I was more of a doodler. But I didn’t like to read much either. I was a bit of a crazyhead.

 

Shelly Brown
I’m a mother of five. That’s my real job. The hours totally suck but I hear the payout is pretty awesome.

I had a few experiences early on in life from which I garnered that I was bad at fiction writing. It’s amazing how easy it is to crush a young spirit. I was a decent actress though and told stories that way for many years. I only picked up fiction writing again four years ago.

I didn’t write a lot as a kid BUT I did win honorable mention in elementary school for a Young Authors historical fiction piece about two friends who were separated during the Japanese Internment Camps. I bet the judges didn’t see that coming. ;)

Crystal Collier
YES! I even get paid. *gasp* I also home school my 3 wonderful children, serve as President over a church group of 75 children (teaching, coordinating weekly activities, managing other teachers and various lesson schedules/programs), and take the odd music composition/arrangement job or vocal performance gig.

 

Jessica Sayler
I’m a pediatric operating room nurse in my real life. I’ve been writing seriously for about three years. I did write a little as a kid, but never did anything seriously.

Madeline Mora-Summonte
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. It’s my passion, and I consider it a large part of who I am as a person.

 

Is writing your ‘real’ job?

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Jun 19

Welcome to the Big Reveal
 

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
 

Did you choose your genre or did your genre choose you?

 

Madeline Mora-Summonte
I write whatever story wants to be told. Sometimes it’s more contemporary or women’s fiction and sometimes it’s darker stuff, like horror. I read across genres, and I believe that influences what and how I write – in a good way.

 

Rebecca Barrow
I’d definitely say my genre chose me—I’ve never written anything but contemporary (adult at first, and now YA) and I just went in that direction naturally. YA contemporary is my favourite genre to read, too. I would love to try writing other genres that aren’t too far from contemp but are still different—magical realism and horror

 
Chad Morris
I love middle grade fiction. It’s where my imagination lives. Plus, four out of my five kids are in my target audience and I love to read my crazy stories to them. As they grow older I might explore YA a bit more. I read a lot of middle grade, some YA, and I like a good biography every now and then.

 

Shelly Brown
I write MG because I love MG. My only disappointment is that I love a good romantic subplot and those aren’t so big in MG. SOoOooOo, I secretly write YA and NA to get the love stories out of my system in hopes of not making any 6th graders gag. I read a lot of Middle Grade and I’m a sucker for classic lit.

 
Crystal Collier
I’ve been seriously writing since I was 10 and have tried Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Historical, Sci-fi, Mystery, Biographical, Horror, Action, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary, Thriller, Inspirational, and Comedy in everything from picture books to adult. I’ve found I’m happiest writing for young adults (Because let’s face it, they rock!), and MUST include fantastic elements. My current projects fall into Historical Paranormal, Fantasy Action, Urban Fantasy, and Sci-fi with strong elements of romance.

 

Jessica Sayler
It definitely chose me. I loved to read adult romance, so that’s what I thought I’d end up writing, but then my first book I wrote ended up being YA and I was so surprised. Then all my ideas were YA. I do have a few NA and Adult, but those are on hold for now.

 

What genres do you write and read?
 

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Jun 14

Welcome to the Big Reveal
 

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
 

What word(s) or phrases show up way too often in your work?

 

Jessica Sayler
That was a big one in the beginning, but now I catch it as I write it and think, “do I need this?” Feel was a big one too, but I try to stay diligent on that one too. I think the normal ones like just and I think I use smile too much.

 
Madeline Mora-Summonte
Early drafts of my novels see a lot of looks/looking and turns/turning. “Purple prose” is also a problem in the beginning but I’m usually – hopefully! – able to weed that out as I revise and edit.

 

Rebecca Barrow
Just, really, actually, I mean, it’s like, whatever—I don’t realize how bad it is until I’m doing this and see each of them five times on every single page. My characters are also always sighing, shrugging, and rolling their eyes…

 
Chad Morris
Ninja, jedi, one-eyed eskimo midget.

 

Shelly Brown
I have a list saved for reference. My key offender is just. It’s just so handy! ;)

 
Crystal Collier
Eyes. I’m all about the eyes—windows to the soul. I also tend to favor “light” or “darkness” and really big or obscure words. They don’t seem odd to me because I use them all the time. *shrugs* (Apparently vacillate and putrescence fit into that category.)

 

What words show up in your work a lot?
 

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Jun 05

Welcome to the Big Reveal
 

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
 

Pantser, Planner or in-between?

 

Crystal Collier
I’ve got a “story shelf” in my brain. It’s a visualized place where I store plotting, character development, and other tidbits. Until recent years it has been all I needed for plotting, along with the occasional napkin-scribbled note, but my brain is officially on overload. These days I write an outline including the start, finish, major turning points and about 5 or 6 major plot points, including the setting, character motives, and details. The characters are always developed in my head through conversations or placing them in specific circumstances, and I won’t write a word of the book until I KNOW them. Once I have those two tools, I launch into it, doing research along the way and expanding my outline as the story develops.

 

Jessica Sayler
I started out as a big pantser, but the more I write the more I find that I’m outlining. For Awakened since I had already written it once I had the ultimate outline. Lol. When I wrote the collabs we loosely talked outline just so that we both knew the general direction of where we were going.

 
Madeline Mora-Summonte
Definitely somewhere in-between. I don’t have a set process for how I work, other than I usually start with handwritten notes in a notebook before turning to the computer where I attempt to take those notes and put them in some semblance of order.

 

Rebecca Barrow
Inbetween, I think—I don’t outline and I suck at plotting, but I usually know a couple of key scenes when I start writing. I tend to get to a point when I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’m forced to stop drafting and plan out a few next scenes. Whatever works!

 
Chad Morris
I’m an in-betweener. You’ve probably heard this metaphor before: If writing a novel were like traveling across the country, I know the major cities I’m stopping in and where I’m going to end, but a lot of the journey is a bit spontaneous along the way.

 

Shelly Brown
I’m such an inbetweener. When I get an idea I start to take notes on all of the scenes, themes, dialogue, characters, plot twists, etc. that come into my head but I realize that what I have created is not really a story but usually a vignette of interesting ideas. Then I brainstorm how to fit my story into a beat sheet (which I never fully finish but it makes me think of turning points, conflicting character goals, how to end it, etc.), and let my subconscious play with ideas, all the while just jotting things down as they come to me.
Then when it’s time to write, I start plotting by writing a couple of paragraphs each for the first three or four chapters. I go on to fully write those chapters, so that I can get a feeling for the characters, what’s working and what’s not working.
I MAY OR MAY NOT, rewrite those chapters at this point. If I think they’ll work pretty good for a starting place, I’ll just leave them and save revision work for later but if I realize that major character/plot changes need to take place, then I’ll think about it some more and rewrite those chapters.

THEN (longest answer ever, sorry!) I write my chapter summary paragraphs as fast as the ideas come to me. I’m usually writing my story along side my summary paragraphs, the paragraphs being always five to eight chapters ahead of the story writing. This allows me to adjust things as more voice and information is presented.

So in bullet point-
*Brainstorm
*Explore beat sheet
*Write summary paragraphs for first few chapters
*Write first few chapters
*Adjust
*Continue writing summary paragraphs while writing actual chapters a handful of chapters behind.
*Finish first draft…billion more steps to follow.
This is my version of the best of both worlds.

 

Are you a pantser, planner, or in-betweener?
 

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May 29

Welcome to the Big Reveal
 

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
 

Have you ever gotten a story idea from a song, a TV show or movie?

 

Shelly Brown
I draw a lot of inspiration from these forms of media. They are made to illicit an emotional reaction, the same way that story telling is, and if done well it works! But I can’t think of any of my stories that the original idea was pulled from these venues.

 
Crystal Collier
Truthfully? No. I’ve had characters influence mine, and the occasional mood from a scene, but my stories come from my dreams. Music is matched to the scenes after the fact.

 

Jessica Sayler
I get story ideas from music a lot. PTT came from a Taylor Swift song. I heard it envisioned a scene and then I thought, “Um, how did they get there?” Then I shared it with Kelley and she fell in love with it and we came up with PTT. With Secret Catch same thing. I was at a Kenny Chesney concert and Boys Of Fall came on. I thought about this guy who was a high school football player, where football was life and what would happen when a girl was the opposite of that. I called Cassie from the concert and told her I had this great idea and she had to write this story with me. From there it evolved into Secret Catch. Awakened started with a scene I saw play out in my head like a movie. Does that count?

 
Madeline Mora-Summonte
Not that I can recall. Most of my ideas just kind of pop into my head or they come from things I observe out in the world – an overheard conversation, catching a glimpse of something unusual, that kind of thing.

 

Rebecca Barrow
All the time—not usually whole plots, but they definitely inspire me. The story I’m drafting right now was actually inspired by a music video I happened to see on TV one day—I saw it and knew I wanted to write the story of those girls.

 
Chad Morris
No, but I wish I wrote Phineas and Ferb or BBC’s Sherlock. Both are genius.

 

Do you get any story ideas from TV, movies or songs?
 

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May 22

Welcome to the Big Reveal
 

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
 

Are you obsessive about backing up your work?

 

Shelly Brown
Dangerously not obsessive. I email my manuscripts to myself. I have an external hard drive. I have a dropbox. I’m sporadic in my saving but I do it.

 
Crystal Collier
YES. I have lost way too many valuable documents so I auto save every one to five minutes, save a new file name whenever I make a drastic change (Ex: Moonless 3-15-12, Moonless 3-20-12) and back up my draft via email about once a month

 

Jessica Sayler
I’m not as obsessed as I should be. I just save it on my computer. Sometimes I do e-mail it to myself, just to be sure.

 
Madeline Mora-Summonte
I back up my work on the computer and on a flash drive. I also print out a final version so I have a hard copy for my files.

 

Rebecca Barrow
During drafting I save a copy to my computer and then to my dropbox. Once I have a full, finished draft I also save it to a memory stick and email it to myself. Plus, I often send drafts to my iPad to read as a Kindle document so I have that, too. Losing work is my worst fear.

 
Chad Morris
Right now, I’m writing on Pages on my Ipad and have it set to back up on the icloud. I also email myself copies just to be sure. Then, just for good measure, I print out copies of my draft every other day on acid-free paper, laminate it for protection, and hide it in a great granite fault underneath a mountain.


Okay, I got a little carried away. It was all true, except for the laminating.

And the granite fault.

 


Are you obsessive about backing up your work?
 

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May 15

Welcome to the Big Reveal
 

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
 

First I’d like to welcome all the new writers, and also point out one thing for those who might not know. Chad and Shelly Morris are married, and both writers, so I thought it’d be fun to have them together and see how their answers differ.
 

What are you working on now, or have you recently published? Did the title of that story come easy or was it a struggle?

 
Chad Morris
My first book was Cragbridge Hall, the Inventor’s Secret. It’s a crazy story about a school in the future. (If you want to check out the amazing trailer, here’s the link: http://www.cragbridgehall.com/trailer/) But my latest book is Cragbridge Hall, the Avatar Battle. It came out in March. (Another crazy trailer: www.cragbridgehall.com ) I’m currently pounding out the third book in the series. No title yet. And so far, I’ve titled them both and both were changed. However, I did get a say in what they were changed to.

 

Shelly Brown
The Middle Grade Ghost Mystery I’m polishing is called Dead Indeed. I seldom have strong opinions about titles of books so I don’t expect other people to have such strong opinions about the titles that I choose BUT THEY DO! I figure the publisher is going to change whatever I call it anyways, so I hate wasting my time carefully crafting a title but that’s just lazy thinking. I have to sell it to the agent first and they look at the title, then the agent has to sell it to the publisher, and they look at the title, THEN they change it to something I would have never come up with and probably don’t even like ;)

 
Crystal Collier
MOONLESS, YA Paranormal slated as Jane Eyre meets Supernatural. Originally the book was “Faery Moon: Dark Night.” The next title was Dark Moon. During Pitch Wars 2012, my amazing coach, Sharon Johnston, went through a brainstorming session with me to find a one word title. She tossed out MOONLESS, and what can I say? She’s brilliant. Never underestimate the value of another brain.

 

Jessica Sayler
Right now I’m working on a couple of projects. Cassie Mae and I just finished the first draft of our book, Secret Catch that comes out in October. In that case we threw titles back and forth and Cassie came up with the one we decided on and I liked it, so it stuck. I’m also working on a solo project titled Awakened. (I’d already written it and now I’m rewriting it.) The title came to me about halfway through the first version. I’m not set on it though. And my last project is The Princess And The Thief (PTT), which is a collab with Kelley Lynn. PTT went the same way that Secret Catch did, with Kelley and I tossing back and forth titles and then finally settling on one that, I think, Kelley came up with.

 
Madeline Mora-Summonte
I’m always working on flash fiction but I’m also working on a horror novel. I usually give my novels a loose, working title, but I don’t like to say the title out loud for fear of “jinxing” something. Kind of like He Who Must Not Be Named. :)

 

Rebecca Barrow
The story I’m drafting doesn’t have a title, but the one I’m revising is currently titled THE QUIETEST KIND—it’s YA contemporary. I have no idea where that title came from, but that’s what it’s been since before I first started drafting the early version of this story. Which is unusual, because I hate coming up with titles and it usually takes me days of searching to get something half-decent!

 

Thanks everyone for being a part of The Big Reveal. I look forward to reading more of your answers and getting to know you all better.
 
How do you come up with your titles?

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