Jul 27

The downside of collaborations… from a reader’s perspective.
 
When two writers get together and write an amazing story, they forget about one thing.
 
How difficult it is for us readers to get an autographed book. I mean, it’s hard enough getting an author’s signature, but two? It’s not like they usually live in the same city. Or even state.
 
So a few years back I got a signed copy of My Heart for Yours (MYFY) from Steph Campbell. Her co-author was Jolene Perry. And my book felt so lonely sitting on the shelf with only one autograph. And then one day, the book got packed up into a suitcase, boarded an airplane, and landed in Salt Lake City. All to accompany me to the Storymakers Conference.
 
MHFY was overjoyed when I, the lowly owner, presented the book to Jolene Perry and asked her if she could sign it. And she did, cause she’s cool like that. I mean, I didn’t even have to beg or anything. :)
 
And now my book is happy.
 
But then… while there, the generous Cassie Mae gave me a copy of her collabs with Theresa Paulo, King Sized Beds & Happy Trails and Beach Side Beds & Sandy Paths. And of course she signed them too.
 
Now those two books are unhappy because they do not have Theresa’s autograph. And now I’m going to have to hunt down her down to get her to sign it because I don’t want those books to be unhappy.
 
Unfortunately Theresa lives half a country away, but fortunately, she offered that if I ever came to New York, I could stay with her for a week or two. And she’s feed me and clothe me and show me all the sites of NYC. Right, Theresa?
 
Um, Theresa?
 
:)
 
So I’m hoping I don’t have to wait too long before I can get her to sign it. But by then, they’ll have the third story out, Lonesome Beds & Bumpy Roads, and I’ll just bring that one along too. But then it won’t have Cassie Mae’s autograph and then I’ll have to go to Utah again. And they’ll probably write more books together.
 
And this will never end. See, you collaborating authors, what problems you cause for us readers?
 
I guess I should stop complaining because I actually have those autographs, huh?
 
Do you have books that are collaborations, and you got it signed by one or both of the authors?

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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 13

I’ve got Kyra Lennon here today to talk about series writing. She is releasing the third book in her Game On Series and you must check them out.
 
Welcome, Kyra and congratulations on your newest release. So I was wondering. Did you start writing the first, Game On, knowing it’d be a series?

 
Nope, it was supposed to be one book, one story, but it got a little out of hand! One of my CPs suggested making it into a series shortly after the book was released, and early reviews told me that people were interested in the secondary characters as well as the main characters so I went with it – and here we are at Book 3!
 
Are there any more planned?
 
It will be a five book series. After that, no more lol!
 
You have your novella, but have you written any other stand alone stories/novels?
 
I have one standalone written, about a rock band, although there is potential for a companion novel. I also have two standalones half written, but I’m not really sure how they’re going to work out just yet. I will definitely be easing off on writing anymore book series for a while once Game On is finished!
 
How did you pick which characters to do the stories about?
 
Originally, the plan was for a four book series, focusing on Leah Walker (the MC from Game On) and her two best friends, Bree and Freya, with the final book going back to Leah. But Jesse Shaw was such a popular character in Game On, I decided it was worth giving him his own book. I have also had some suggestions that there should be a book dedicated to the Westberg Warriors beefcake, Bryce Warren, but I think adding any more books to the mix at this point would be a mistake.
 
Bryce gets a lot of page time in the last two books, so I think people will be satisfied.

 
Since your series has different main characters, how to do you keep track of all their personality traits and such. Are you organized with it all in a notebook(s)? Or on the computer?

 
Haha, I am not organised at all! I think I do have anotebook around somewhere that has very, very basic notes in, but for the most part, the information lives inside my head, and just stays there until I’m ready to let it out!

 
Thanks so much for interviewing me, Suzi! This was fun!

 
Thanks for sharing with us, Kyra.
 

At the age of twenty-one, Bree Collinson has more than she ever dreamed of. A handsome husband, a fancy house, and more shoes than Carrie Bradshaw and Imelda Marcos combined. But having everything handed to her isn’t the way Bree wants to live the rest of her life.

When an idea to better herself pops into her head, she doesn’t expect her husband to question her, and keep her tied by her apron strings to the kitchen.

Isolated and unsure who to turn to, Bree finds herself falling back into a dangerous friendship, and developing feelings for the only person who really listens to her. Torn between her loyalty to her husband and her attraction to a man who has the perfect family she always wanted, she has some tough choices to make.

While Bree tries to figure out what she wants, a tragedy rocks the Westberg Warriors, triggering some dark memories, and pushing her to take a look at what’s really important.

About the Author:

Kyra is a self-confessed book-a-holic, and has been since she first learned to read. When she’s not reading, you’ll usually find her hanging out in coffee shops with her trusty laptop and/or her friends, or girling it up at the nearest shopping mall.

Kyra grew up on the South Coast of England and refuses to move away from the seaside which provides massive inspiration for her novels.
Her debut novel, Game On (New Adult Contemporary Romance), was released in July 2012, and she scored her first Amazon Top 20 listing with her New Adult novella, If I Let You Go.

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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 22

I’ve noticed lately how so many bloggers I know are slowing down. I get it because I know why—they’re becoming published and now deadlines are not always just their own and their time is less. Also, many of them are finding that Twitter and Facebook are easier ways to interact with friends and readers compared to blogging.

Image courtesy of Artur84
FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Other people just drop out of the blogging atmosphere, and I don’t have them on Twitter or Facebook, so I don’t know what’s happened. If they’ve stopped writing. Or if it was just the blogging they quit. But there’s no way of knowing.
 
And I miss hearing from some of those people.
 
Recently I went through Feedly to clean things up a bit. Take off blogs I don’t ever read, and remove some of those who haven’t posted in forever. Usually I won’t remove anything until there’s been like 6-8 months of silence. But I’ll also leave those people who I really hope to hear back from. To know if they’re still writing. Still pursing that dream. And maybe they will come back some day.
 
It makes me wonder also, if blogging by writers, in general, is slowing down, for reasons I mentioned above, or if it’s just the writers I know and follow.
 
What are your observations? Do you have bloggers you followed that dissappeared, and you wish they’d come back?

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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 11

If you haven’t heard of Madeline Mora-Summonte yet, you really need to go check out her blog. She writes this amazing flash fiction, some of which she featured during the A to Z Challenge.
 
Today I’ve got her here to talk about her ff writing. But first, I want to show you a couple of my favorites that she wrote for A to Z . (And there will be more at the end too.)
 

NO RETURN

The sleek, blood-red convertible was rented, as was the boy toy behind the wheel, but I had no intention of bringing either of them back.


I love how she says so much in one sentence–the feeling of trepidation I get. The imagery in her mini-stories is fantastic.
 
MASK

Mama always makes me wear a mask. She says I’m ugly as the sin that made me, says I’ll be handsome enough to go without one when hell freezes over, when pigs fly.

 
When I leap from our roof, I am hiding a smile inside my pig mask.

 
That one also brings out the emotions–although sadness for that child. And she evokes those emotions so well with so few words. I’ve got a few more at the end, but now I’ve got a few questions. Welcome, Madeline.
 
What did you start writing first, novels or flash fiction and other short stories?
 
I’ve always worked on stories and novels. Novels are such long, complex projects that I find stories, especially flash fiction, give me a much needed sense of completion, of accomplishment. When I’m struggling with novel work, it gives me great pleasure to submit a story, to see one recently published online. The process of writing both gives me a sense of balance.
 

I’ve done a few short stories, and the one thing I love about them is that the editing is soooo much shorter compared to novels. It’s not as overwhelming to start that revision process.
 

Is it easier for you to write novels or short stories/flash fiction?
 

Hmm, I don’t know if I’d say one is easier. They’re just different.I don’t have to hold nearly as much information in my head for flash fiction as I do for a novel. Novel writing often feels overwhelming. Flash feels attainable, compact, the end is usually in sight.

 
Did you decide to ‘try’ FF and then create the stories, or did you have the inspiration first and when you started writing, it ended up being FF?
 


It really just depends. Sometimes, like with “Whale Watching,” it was for a contest so I was working within a set of guidelines, like word count and needing to include certain words in the story. “Mask” evolved from something I saw – a child wearing a pig mask, waving to people out the car window. “Indelible Ink” pretty much came from nowhere. I was just thinking about tattoos and why people get them, etc. “No Return” was based on a photo prompt from a number of years ago. I submitted slightly different versions of the story to a number of places, and it was rejected time and again. Yet it’s still one of my favorites. :)

 
Is most of your flash fiction for fun or do you publish a lot of it?
 

I submit a lot of it to different markets and contests. I like having deadlines and frameworks to work within, even if I have to create them for myself. For my collection, The People We Used to Be, I chose – and wrote – stories that fit the theme of who we are versus who we were. For The Blogging from A-Z Challenge April 2014, I limited every story to 100 words or fewer. I plan on putting together another collection, using a chunk of those A-Z stories, and I’m sure I’ll set some rules for myself for that one as well. :)

 
Thanks so much, Madeline. Again, make sure you go check out her blog and if you’re interested in reading about how she writes her flash fiction, go to this site. You can also find her story collection, The People We Used to Be here. Those flash fiction stories are a little longer than her A to Z postings, but are just as emotional and inspiring, and I really recommend reading it.

 
Have you ever written flash fiction? If not, here’s a few more of Madeline’s stories to inspire you. (And FYI, she does have positive stories too, but these sad and creepy ones are my favorites.)
 

Whale Watching

Cheryl waits on the sagging porch, the cutting spade resting across her thighs. Granddaddy used it to saw off whale blubber. She’s heard he used it for other things, too, but its stains tell no tales, fiction or otherwise.
 

Dusk descends. Varmints scuttle in the junkyard’s bowels. The trap clatters.
 

Cheryl smiles at the boys’ panicked cries. She’s sick of their nasty pranks and cruel words – Cheryl the Whale.
 

At 262 pounds, her flesh slushes loose and sweaty within her clothes as she lumbers across the yard, cutting spade in hand, ready to carry on the family tradition.
 
 

INDELIBLE INK

She let him stain her on the inside.
 

Now, he laughs, chooses her tattoo – his name down her back, mocking the spine she doesn’t have.
 

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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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