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Writer’s Vacation – Be Your Own Location Scout (and Make Your Own Writing Prompts)

August 20, 2016

Many years ago, when I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, one of the assignments was to go on an “Artist’s Date.” This was a type of assigned play where you take your artist self out and see new things, or go to an art store and buy art supplies.

I loved this practice. This year, the push to finish a trilogy, a certificate program at SFU, and starting a new job has drained my personal creative coffers. I’d meditated, focused on writing something new, then took time off, then turned up at the page. And all of these things helped, but what I was missing in all of this was play.

It was time again for an artist’s date. And I was overdue for a vacation.

As a writer, I’ve always dreamed of going away somewhere just to write. I have heard of writers going away to retreats, or applying for grants, but haven’t gotten around to that myself. For example, I’d love to go to a castle in Ireland just to write for six weeks. But

I also know myself as a traveler. If I go somewhere new and exciting, I want to get out and see the place, not lock myself in a room and write. I’m an introvert who is also insatiably curious.

This year, I spent too much time indoors, so I wanted to get out and explore. Our budget was tight, and the Canadian dollar is low ($0.65 USD), so all we had in our coffers was a trip to nearby Victoria B.C. and Saltspring Island.

That’s when I came up with the idea of a writer’s vacation where I fill my coffers with inspiration from my new environment and play “locations scout.”

I did this before, made a trip to Seattle to scout locations for The Watcher Saga.  And that was a definite, planned trip, because I set the books there.

This time, I had no idea what story to write or where it will be set. Instead, I simply took pictures of locations that excited me.

I drove aimlessly, or found my favorite local haunts (I know Victoria fairly well, and have Google maps so I wouldn’t get lost). I took pictures of my favorite places and used them as potential location prompts.

First, I found this gem: St. Ann’s Academy – oh so much you can do with this…

Fantan alley, with its shops and lanterns.

Then…. off to Saltspring Island where we saw this gorgeous view:

secluded-beach

And the haunted wardrobe that opened in the middle of the night with no provocation from us:

haunted_drawer

Any of these locations could be a prompt or tell a story in itself. What if they were all in the same place?

Writing Prompt: Using these pictures, write a story using these locations.

Let me know what you come up with!

 

Cover Reveal: Pretty Wicked by Kelly Charron

August 15, 2016

Today, I have the cover for my friend and writing colleague Kelly Charron‘s upcoming debut novel: Pretty Wicked.

Praise for Pretty Wicked:

 “This creepy novel places you inside the mind of a twisted teen killer, which is even more unsettling because of how familiar and normal she seems. Be prepared to leave the lights on and look at the people around you in a whole new way.”

-Eileen Cook | Author of WITH MALICE

 “Dark and haunting, this witty thriller with its petite feminine anti-hero is an American Psycho for teens. Be prepared to sleep with the lights on.”

Lisa Voisin | Author of THE WATCHER SAGA

“Pretty Wicked is fresh, thrilling, and deeply haunting. I’ve never read anything like it! The story escalates from page one and will leave your pulse pounding as you wonder just how far Ryann will go. 5/5 stars.”

Tiana Warner | Author of ICE MASSACRE & ICE CRYPT

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About PRETTY WICKED:

The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen.

But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects.

Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price.

*warning – some graphic content

Pretty Wicked is a mature YA novel intended for ages 16 and up.

 Excerpt:

I heard the bell ring in the distance. Lunch was over. I leapt up to go when I was struck with panic. What if someone had seen me walk out there with Veronica? No one could know what I’d done. My breath hitched.

I ran as fast as I could back to the yard and to the first teacher I saw.

“Mrs. Hopkins! Come quick, Veronica’s really hurt!” I pretended to be hysterical so effectively that she couldn’t understand me the first few times.

She bent down so we were at eye level. “Where?”

“We went into the woods at the far end of the property. I’m sorry. I know we’re not allowed, but she fell and she’s not moving! You have to hurry!” I sobbed, shoulders shaking, snotty nose. I don’t know how I’d managed to look so distraught, but I nearly convinced myself.

Mrs. Hopkins turned to a kid named Austin, who was in the grade ahead of me. “Go get Mr. Chute. Tell him to call 911 and to come out and meet me in the woods.”

Austin, who was paper white, nodded and took off like his ass was on fire.

I ran back with Mrs. Hopkins to the rocks where I’d left Veronica. She was in the exact position I’d left her. Thankfully there was no miraculous recovery waiting for us.

After she was taken away in an ambulance, Mrs. Hopkins and Mr. Chute walked me back and called my parents.

My dad showed up to the school, hugged me, and told me how brave I was.

After my mother had finally stopped fussing and checking on me every twenty minutes, I sat on my bed and thought about Veronica. It would be weird not to see her in class every day or hang out with her at lunch, not that we hung out that much. I was usually with Bao-yu anyway, but sometimes she came along. Maybe now B and I would be better friends. She wouldn’t have to share me anymore.

I wondered what I was feeling—if I was missing Veronica. But I didn’t think that’s what it was. The twinge in the bottom of my stomach didn’t have the achy hollowness that people refer to as a pit. It was more like butterflies.

Pre-Order on Amazon | Add it on Goodreads 

Questions About Pretty Wicked:

  • What inspired you to write such a dark character?

I’ve always been fascinated with psychology and human motivation. Whenever I read a novel or watched a movie or television show, I was drawn to the villain. I wanted to understand what made them act the way they did––delve into what happened in their lives or minds to make them the person they had become.

When there was the odd story from the “villains” point of view, it seemed to characterize them as “misunderstood” and usually spun them into a likeable character who was the hero of that new version of the story. I wanted to write something unique and portray the villain realistically. What would the story look like if they were a true villain? I got the idea for a teenage serial killer who was unapologetic about who she was and what she wanted and thought it was really interesting to explore what her point of view would be if she drove the story and the “villain” was the detective trying to stop her.

  • Is this your first novel?

Pretty Wicked is the second book I wrote and the first to be published. I have been writing for ten years. My first book was a YA urban fantasy that took me seven years to complete because I kept stopping for huge chunks of time while I completed my degrees (English Lit and Social Work). I finally got serious about writing in 2013 and have just completed my fourth novel.

  • Why did you choose to self-publish?

I did query it to literary agents and received a lot of positive praise for the book. In the end I kept hearing the same feedback: it’s a fascinating concept, the writing and voice are great, but we don’t think we can sell such a dark book to a publisher. I completely understand this. I know this book is going to be very polarizing. People will either love the concept of hate it. So far I have had overwhelmingly encouraging feedback from readers who understand that this is a fictional story that is trying to do something different from most novels. There was some interest from small publishers but the wait times were longer than I was comfortable with. I decided if I wanted to see this book out in the world I was going to have to do it myself. It was an intimidating process, but luckily I have an amazing and brilliant support group who helped me along the way.

  • What genres do you write in?

Psychological thriller, urban fantasy, and horror. I have two YA urban fantasy books, though one may never see the light of day. It’s my first book and would need to be rewritten before I decide its fate. The second (currently titled Wilde Magic) is the first in a planned series that I am very excited about.

 

  • Is Pretty Wicked a standalone novel?

The Pretty Wicked series will continue with adult books. The sequel, Wicked Fallout, is currently going through editing and the third book in the series is brewing in my mind. I have some very fun ideas for Ryann.

Wicked Fallout takes place twelve years later when Ryann is 27 years old. That’s all I can say right now as to not reveal spoilers.

  • Ryann is not a very likable character. Do you like her?

I actually do. I really enjoyed writing her. I don’t agree with anything she does at all! In that sense, Ryann is deplorable! But what I like is her humor and wit and the way she owns who she is. She was a fun character to write because she is so different to most characters out there. It’s like when you see a Hollywood actor discuss their favorite roles. Often they say the villain roles were their preferred because it was more fun and exciting to play. There are forbidden elements that make it a bit more exciting than the standard hero. It’s no different for me as the writer.

 About Kelly Charron

Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Profile Pic 2016

Sign up for her mailing list or check out upcoming books at: http://kellycharron.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron

Facebook: https://goo.gl/UNkH3g

Goodreads: https://goo.gl/rf4NlM

 

 

Interview with Author Tiana Warner on Ice Crypt – A #YA Fantasy #ReleaseDay

July 25, 2016

Today, I have Amazon Kindle best-selling author Tiana Warner on my blog to talk about her new young adult fantasy, Ice Crypt, where a teenage girl and a mermaid must unearth a legendary weapon in order to stop the war between humans and merpeople.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

Tiana also shares where she got her inspiration for Ice Crypt,  some words of wisdom about writing, and the joys of being a successful self-published author.

About Tiana Warner

Tiana Warner is the best-selling author of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy. Her books have been recognized by Writer’s Digest, Foreword’s Top 10 Indie YA Books of 2014, and the Dante Rossetti Awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia. She enjoys riding her horse, Bailey, and is an active supporter of animal welfare.

 

TianaWarner

Welcome Tiana! I’m going to get right down to business here….

You’ve had a lot of success self-publishing your books, and on your blog you’ve written an excellent post on how to self-publish. What are some of the best things you’ve found about being self-published? 

Having total control over your career as an author. More than writing a story, you determine what the cover looks like, when and where the book is published, how much it costs, how many copies you can donate. Being an indie author means running a business, one with huge potential for growth. It means taking charge of your platform and keeping your rights and royalties. It’s an incredibly exciting journey!

What are some of the worst?

Because there are no gatekeepers, you have to prove your worth when you self-publish. Tell someone you’re published and they go, “Wow, that’s amazing! Who’s your publisher?” and when you say “Me. I self-published,” they’re like, “Oh,” and maybe it’s just me being insecure, but I get the vibe that there’s a moment where they think, “So your book wasn’t good enough?” Of course, it’s not like that. In today’s competitive book market, self-publishing is a business strategy.

Your first book in the series, Ice Massacre, recently was a First Place Winner: Dante Rossetti Awards 2014 from Chanticleer Book reviews. Congratulations! Has that opened doors for you?

Thank you! It’s hard to measure exactly what prompts readers to buy a book, but yes, I think awards and professional reviews build credibility. It helps me get reviews by other professional reviewers, which in turn helps in other ways… It’s about building momentum. When someone is deciding what to read next, they go with a book that their peers say is good. Official praise helps, but the absolute best sales tool is word-of-mouth. It’s so important for readers to leave reviews and recommend books they like. That’s the only way a book becomes popular.

Who is your favorite character in Ice Crypt and why?

Picking one character over another feels like comparing mermaids and unicorns. They’re all my favourites in different ways. They all bring something essential and unique to the story. I guess Meela, as my protagonist, will always have a special place in my heart — but then, so will Lysi, and all of their friends. I do like the boys in this book. Ice Massacre was 99% female so I didn’t get to explore male characters that much. I loved writing Spio and Tanuu in this one.

What is the theme of Ice Crypt? Is it an extension of Ice Massacre, or a new one? 

Secrets and personal struggles lead Ice Crypt to be more LGBT than Ice Massacre. Where Ice Massacre is about Meela trusting her feelings, Ice Crypt is about whether she can accept those feelings and share her true self with others.

What did you enjoy most about writing Ice Crypt?

Getting to dive deeper into Meela and Lysi’s worlds. Literally, in Lysi’s case. I watched hours of oceans documentaries and spent hours researching sea life online. It was so much fun. For Meela’s world, I loved exploring the history of Eriana Kwai and coming up with the legends that shape their culture. Eriana Kwai is a fictionalized version of Haida Gwaii, so I actually went there last summer to do a research trip. My best friend and I went hiking and explored ancient Haida villages and I took a notebook with me. It was incredible, inspiring, and helped give life to my fictional world.

As a writer, I’m always interested in where other authors get their ideas. From where did you get your inspiration for the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai series?

Disneyland. I was on a trip with my sister when I decided to write a book about mermaids. But I didn’t want to do the Ariel kind – I wanted to do the real legend. The one where they use their beauty to lure sailors to their deaths. From there, it was a series of “what if” questions that led me to the warriors of Eriana Kwai fighting for freedom from these vicious sea demons.

Do you have any words of advice/wisdom for other authors?

Sometimes writing and publishing gets stressful when you’re trying to meet deadlines, and you’re worried what people will think, and someone leaves a bad review, and you need to revise AGAIN, and AHHH!!! Always remember why you started writing in the first place. Remember that you love writing. Take a break if you need to. After the ramp-up to Ice Crypt’s publication, I’m pretty exhausted, so I’m taking a break to write a fanfiction. Really. And I’m having a blast.

Ice Crypt (the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai, Book 2)

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From award-winning author Tiana Warner comes the sequel to Ice Massacre, the #1 Amazon Kindle Best Seller.

Meela has just returned from the Massacre—the annual attempt to wipe out the mermaids threatening her people’s survival. After forming an unlikely connection with Lysi, a mermaid she was trained to kill, Meela is determined to stop the war between humans and merpeople for good. She knows of a legendary weapon that could bring peace if she uses it against King Adaro, ruler of the Pacific Ocean. But her people have plans for future Massacres and refuse to help her uncover it.

While Meela works in secret to unearth the Host of Eriana, Lysi is held captive under Adaro’s tyranny. Sent to the battlefront, Lysi joins forces with a band of rebels that could either bring her freedom—or have her executed for treason.

Separated by the vast Pacific Ocean, Meela and Lysi must find a way to defeat King Adaro and end the war that has been keeping them apart.

Ice Massacre (the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai, Book 1)

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death. Meela, a warrior of Eriana Kwai, must fight for her people’s freedom on the ocean’s deadliest battleground.
IceMassacre

Praise for Ice Massacre

★ “… thought provoking and intelligent … fresh and thoroughly entertaining … Warner does a fantastic job creating a tight plot and masterfully creates a sense of atmosphere through subtle yet potent descriptions … Ice Massacre is a truly exceptional book.”
– Foreword Clarion Reviews,
5-star review

★ “Fascinating, unique, scary and written with a beautiful economy of words…”
– 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards,
Perfect score; Honorable Mention

#1 Amazon Kindle Best Seller
First Place Winner: Dante Rossetti Awards 2014
Foreword 10 Best Indie YA novels of 2014
Foreword Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Finalist

Get caught up with this Special Promo: Ice Massacre is on sale for 99c until July 31st (https://tianawarner.com/novels/ice-massacre/).

PROMOTIONAL ITEMS

GIVEAWAYS

Blitz-wide giveaway (US/CAN)

Goodreads Giveaway:
There is also a giveaway for a signed copy of Ice Crypt on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/193484

Interview with Author Susan V Vaughn #books #YA @susanvaughn1124

June 27, 2016

Today, I have romance author, Susan V. Vaughn on my blog today talking about her new YA Fantasy Romance: The Pixie Queen.

And now, without further ado, please help me wlecome Susan V. Vaughn.

Hello Susan, happy release day for The Pixie Queen! Thank you for spending some time with me today on my blog. Many of my followers are als writers, so I wanted to start off by asking you a few questions about writing.

What is your writing process? i.e., Do you write as you go (panster) or do you outline and know what’s going to happen prior to writing? (plotter)

I am such a classic panster. I always outline as I go. Usually a story strikes me, via dream, or daydream. Then I’m off to the races. A lot of time I will write whole chapters of just dialogue, and then go back through and add the action. I find that the characters tell me which way they want to go, not the other way around.

As a writer, I’m always interested in where other authors get their ideas. From where did you get your inspiration for The Pixie Queen?

I love fantasy, and Earth magic. I thought what would be better than combining those two worlds. I also really wanted a strong female lead. We have so many great YA books with a young male hero. But what about our girls? We need to represent females in a positive way in this culture.

Your other books are contemporary romance, whereas The Pixie Queen is a YA Fantasy romance. What has been different about writing fantasy versus contemporary romance?

I found writing Fantasy to be so much more challenging. In fantasy you have to keep your magical rules straight. The world you create has to be air tight, and believable. With Contemporary you have more wiggle room, because the setting for the book is real life. We already know the rules and understand them.

Who are some of your favourite authors? What impact (if any) did they have on your writing?

I absolutely love Krensley Cole. I think she is a genius when it comes to creating a magical world you want to live in, and characters you want to hang out with. Her books are always funny, and a good time. With her books, I know I’m going to be up all night reading until it’s done!

The Pixie Queen is your sixth published book. What do you know now as a writer that you wished you knew when you wrote your first book?

So many things! I have a lot of editing tricks I have learned in the last two years that I wished I would have known to start with. Editing is the key to having your book reading smooth. It’s the only way to keep your readers engaged. I have learned to key in on dialogue, and make it strong. And to reread a manuscript over and over until it flows.

Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

Jane is my favorite hands down. She is not an ordinary teenage girl, she is magical, and because of that she has to find a way to fit into regular society. Naturally she’s an introvert, which I can completely relate to. I think what’s wonderful about Jane is that she was underestimated by so many people in her life, including herself. But through the journey of this book, she becomes strong, and unstoppable.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a published author?

How supportive other authors are. It’s wonderful.

I totally agree! There’s such a wonderful community of writers out there. Do you have any words of advice/wisdom for other authors?

I live my life by a Dr. Seuss quote. It goes: Be who you are, and say what you feel. Because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

I think this relates to all writers. For one, your writing styles is completely your own. You have to be yourself, or your books will not connect to anyone. If you write from the heart, there will be people out there who love it, and people who hate it. When I first started writing I always said if my book makes one person in this world smile, then I have done my job.

Reading is so important. It’s is like giving your brain a big old hug. I think if you can help one person to read in this world, then you are successful as a writer. In this digital age it is too easy to get lost in the world of negative reviews, and likes. In that way, we clump all of society together, and forget individual human relations. I wish more authors would measure their success by individuals who read their book and fell in love with the world they created. Even if it is one person, what a priceless gift to give someone.

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About The Pixie Queen

In the small town of Caseville strange things have occurred…

From the time Jane Hensley was little, she knew she was different. Instead of hanging out with friends, she was often in the woods, alone, chanting magical words that filled her with power and effected the environment around her. A sudden summer storm on a perfectly sunny day. Monster waves crashing into the shores of Lake Huron. Strange things happening in nature with no rhyme or reason. Residents are mystified by these occurrences, but would never dream they could come from Plain Jane Hensley, the girl that was so quiet, it was like she wasn’t there at all.

But David Reynolds, the town’s football star, has noticed Jane. In fact he has been secretly in love with the strange girl for years. And on the morning of her sixteenth birthday, he is determined to finally reveal his heart to her. Instead David discovers Jane’s powerful secret. A secret that has brought a magical stranger to their town. One who claims to be a Pixie King, and entices Jane on a quest.

Now David must choose whether to allow the girl of his dreams to disappear forever. Or follow her on a journey that defies logic.

Buy it here:

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B01DPP14RO

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1099229689

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-pixie-queen-1

About Susan V. Vaughn

Romance Author, Susan V. Vaughn understood the meaning of sarcasm before she could walk.  Her childhood in the suburbs of Detroit was spent mainly trying to outwit her six creative siblings.  When she wasn’t working on the next soul crushing jab, she sharpened her imagination on romantic literature and day dreamed about her knight in shining armor.

It didn’t take long for Susan to take her passion for reading romances into writing her own unique love stories.  Susan lives her life finding laughter in all situations, and delights in marrying sarcasm with romance to create realistic falling-in-love stories in the unlikeliest of scenarios.

Susan lives on the shores of Lake Huron with her real life knight in shining armor and enjoys watching their three children learn the art of sarcasm and wit.

Website: http://www.susanvvaughn.com

Twitter: @susanvaughn1124

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Susan-V-Vaughn-123758787958942/

 

Inspiration Behind The Warrior Prophet

May 30, 2016

Today, I’m going to talk about the inspiration behind The Warrior Prophet. Because it’s the third and final book in The Watcher saga, I can’t talk about what inspired one without a little background on the others.

Inspiration for the series came from an idea I had for a story almost a decade ago about a boy who wakes up to discover he’s an angel. But telling it from his perspective seemed too much like a Spiderman tale, and though Spiderman is a great story, it’s not the one I wanted to tell. So it wasn’t until the character of Mia came to me, a girl whom he’d loved in a past life and had to face now in order to recover from his own past, did their story come to life.

After writing The Watcher, I didn’t know at first if I’d be able to write a sequel, but when my publisher suggested one, I knew right away what I would do for the third book: a journey through Hell. But I had to give Mia a reason to go, so The Angel Killer grew from that.

The Warrior Prophet takes Mia and the reader on a journey through Hell. Inspiration came from many places. I’d studied meditation and metaphysics for years and know that negative thoughts and actions affect not only our mood, but it can seem to ensnare us into patterns in our lives. I wanted to look at that in an archetypal way. What if demons were responsible for those negative thoughts? What would the world look like if they were here? I liked the idea of the world looking pretty much the way it does now, but with an overlay that only few can see, like Mia who’s a prophet.

The journey through hell had its own inspiration. I was a big fan of Milton’s Paradise Lost. I loved the epic good versus evil theme, the descriptions of hell. I also like the idea that there were many layers of hell, as Dante had in the Inferno. Thirdly, ever since I’d watched the movie What Dreams May Come I wondered about the idea of hell being subjective. After all, life is subjective. What if the afterlife were too?

If hell were subjective, then Mia might see a very different version of it and might get lost. This isn’t Wonderland. She’d make no friends in hell. In order to survive the trip, she’d need a guide. And from there, I knew that the guide needed to be unreliable, the way that Gollum was to Frodo in the Lord of the Rings.

I’m not much of a planner, but for The Warrior Prophet, I planned elements and characters. And from there, the pieces came together and the story came to life as I wrote it. As dark and scary as some of the places were, it was the most fun I’ve had writing a novel. I only hope it’s as much fun for the reader as it was for me to write.

 

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