Thursday, July 26, 2012

Author Interview: Courtney Vail

Another in my July series of interviews with independent, meet Courtney Vail!
Book Title: Kings & Queens
Author:  Courtney Vail

Kings & Queens is a gritty, twisty Young Adult mystery thriller. When 17-year-old tomboy Majesty Alistair can't budge police in her sleepy, rich town after overhearing two fellow students planning a church massacre, she aims to ID the nutjobs herself before they act. But, their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and she becomes the centerpiece in a ruthless game that casts even her closest friends under suspicion. 

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I’ve always loved writing and majored in Journalism Advertising, so I was aiming for a copy writing and design carrier. But I got bitten by the novel bug through my husband. He wanted to start writing short stories for publications and received all these query packets and he also took a remote writing class through the Stafford Institute and received a few of the books in the Write Great Fiction Series. I read them and was inspired with an idea for a novel and wrote away. After reading more and more books on craft, I realized my first book had major issues, so I wrote another one, Kings & Queens. I poured everything I had into this book and polished it up with the help of some awesome reviewers at I now know, novel writing was what I was always meant to do. I am so glad my characters found me!

Why do you Indie publish?

I was shopping Kings & Queens to agents, and though I got some great feedback and some requests for partials and fulls, no bites. My book is good, but on the surface it doesn’t have that oooo concept right up front. The best part of it is the surprises that come in along the wild rollercoaster ride. And that’s a hard thing for an agent to sell to publishers. There’s no juicy sound bite, so to speak, there.

I had some early readers asking me how my characters were doing and I wanted to know too. So, I wrote a sequel Sapphire Reign for fun, which opens ten years later, but after receiving some love for it, I decided it was too weird and different and good to get possibly stuffed because it doesn’t hit the same market. When a Big Sixer offers you a 2 or 3-book deal, it’s for one imprint and market. And I didn’t want Sapphire Reign to end up being just a self-pubbed companion book with a different cover and layout. So, my vision of success changed, being that I craved to go traditional through all the lovely gatekeepers, but that just didn’t work for this series. There was too much risk in that direction. So, I set out to find a smaller publisher that would give me more flexibility in doing what I wanted to do with the series. Me and my book are happily with Little Prince Publishing. I have creative control, flexibility and cool authors to support me. Oh, and I get all my royalties!

What inspired you to write your book?

The three main characters came to my mind first. I just pictured this girl named Majesty as a manager of a baseball team on which her two best friends, Alec and Derek, play. And each one commands her attention for different reasons. But, that’s all I had. Those three weirdos just stumbling around in my brain. That wasn’t enough plot for me. I needed plot. I crave plot. Something suspenseful preferred. But I had nothing. Then one night I dreamt I was running for exercise and overheard these two guys planning a church massacre and I escaped them in this little town. Boom! That gave me exactly what I needed and the location too. And then my story grew and grew into something totally unexpected and awesome. I’m kind of glad I had all that time to get to know and ponder my characters first. When the plot came to me, I was able to just write fluidly, with them popping off the pages.

What are three things you want people to know about you or your book?

Kings & Queens is a twisty, complex, gritty read. It is not for the faint of heart nor for those who prefer simple, breezy beach reads. It requires some mental thought and will take your mind on a whirlwind trip and back. If you’re looking for a read that doesn’t feel like anything you’ve ever read before, that’s suspenseful and weird, then this is the book for you.

What advice do you have for parents to encourage their kids to read more?

To study genres, skip around to some MG and YA blogs and look for what’s hot and interesting to other kids of that age. If your kids see you taking a vested interest in books and know that you’re on the look for cool books, rather than telling them what they can and can’t read, then you can engage on a new level and be excited about books together.

Monday, July 23, 2012

B&N Teen Must Reads

Quick heads-up for those of you who love Barnes & Noble:  Right now, has a sale on their Teen Must Reads.  You can save 40% by entering the code C8T9H8C at checkout.  If you prefer to shop in store, there's also a printable coupon right here:

The site also has a second printable coupon on Rick Riordan books.  The coupons only work through July 30, so grab your summer reading materials now!

Author Interview: Michael Galloway

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

When I was about nine or ten years old I "discovered" my parents' old Royal typewriter in the basement. I didn't know how to type, but I knew I wanted to get my stories into print. So I hunt-and-pecked my way through a handful of "novels" and several short stories until I learned how to type several years later.

Why do you Indie publish?

It is the fastest, most agile way to publish that I've ever seen.

What inspired you to write your book?

A hunting trip years ago up north with my family.

What are three things you want people to know about you or your book?

There are some scenes in this book that came to me so easily that I could barely write them down fast enough. As a result, the novella ended up only taking me a month to write (longer to edit, though). Although most of the characters in the book entertain thoughts of changing their lives, only one of them actually does.

What advice do you have for parents to encourage their kids to read more?

Take them to the library. Show them where to find different types of books (nonfiction, fiction, etc.) and read books to them when they are young.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Author Interview: Amanda Brice

Today I have Amanda Brice, author of the YA novel Codename: Dancer visiting my blog as part of the Kindle Indie-pendence Day giveaway (see below for details on entering!)  Here, she answers questions about Codename:  Dancer's recently released sequel.
Book title: Pointe of No Return
Author: Amanda Brice

Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak’s visions of sugar plums are dashed when she’s assigned to understudy her nemesis, Hadley Taylor, in the Nutcracker. Pretty, popular, and rich, that girl has all the luck. Or so she thought.
When Hadley mysteriously disappears with opening night just around the corner, Dani can’t sit idly by, even if it means losing the part. Now she’s running all over Phoenix in a race against the clock. From reality TV trophy wives to sleazy real estate developers to a possible drug ring, the cast of suspects begins to add up. Will she find Hadley before the curtain rises?

When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I had a little littlebook and purple pen that I carried around with me everywhere the summer I was 7. I was writing an epic about orphans living on the prairie. It took all summer. It was all of about 30 pages. 30 teeny-tiny pages.

Why do you Indie publish?
Despite wonderful editorial feedback when my old agent shopped the first book in my series (Codename: Dancer), nobody knew were to place it. It was too old for middle grade, but a bit on the sweet side for YA. And that was entirely intentional on my part. So I decided to take the plunge and am very glad I did.

What inspired you to write your book?
I danced competitively and on the pre-professional level as a teenager and in college, and always wished there were books about dancers written for teens. (There were tons for little girls.) And I love cozy mysteries, so a series about dance students who solve mysteries seemed like a natural fit.

What are three things you want people to know about you?
1. I'm a total Olympics junkie, and actually worked for the International Olympics Committee during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Best.Summer.Job.Ever.
2. I once swing danced with then-Vice President Al Gore.
3. I come off all organized, but it's a total sham. Don't look in my closets or under my bed at home.

What advice do you have for parents to encourage their kids to read more?
Introduce them to a wide variety of books. If the subject matter interests them, they'll find it fun.
Thanks for the interview, Amanda!

If you'd like to see more interviews in this series, check back throughout July.  In the meantime, you can visit author Sybil Nelson's site to enter the Kindle Indie-pendence giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle, a Kindle Fire, or several other great prizes (including copies of Amanda's books.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Author Interview: Shana Norris

As part of the Kindle Indie-pendence Day celebration (and giveaway...see below!), I'm featuring a series of interviews with indie authors.  First up is Shana Norris, author of the popular young adult novel The Boyfriend Thief. 
Book title:  The Boyfriend Thief
Author:  Shana Norris

Avery has her life planned out: this summer she'll work with a humanitarian program in Costa Rica, next year she'll graduate at the top of her class. The only problem: getting the rest of the money she needs for the trip before the deadline. Hannah, her biggest competition for valedictorian, makes an offer: If Avery can make Zac break up with Hannah, a check for five hundred dollars is hers. But within Zac's chaotic world of midnight slushie runs and spontaneous dance parties, Avery's total order is quickly falling apart while Hannah seems poised to get everything she wants. Just how much is Avery willing to give up for the perfect, planned life?

When did you know you wanted to be an author? I've been making up stories ever since I was a little kid, but it wasn't until I was around age 11 that I realized authors were just normal people who loved to write like I did. So from that point on, I decided that I wanted to become an author one day.

Why do you Indie publish? I love being able to get something new out to readers on my own schedule and connect with new readers online.

What inspired you to write your book? The Boyfriend Thief is one of those "book of my heart" stories. I had worked on it for years, and it started from my need to explore feelings of isolation and having to grow up really fast. I moved away from my parents during my senior year of high school, 700 miles away, and a lot of the feelings of loneliness that Avery has in the book came from my own experiences. I also wanted to write about the complexities of relationships within family and friends, and what draws people to each other or pushes them apart.

What are three things you want people to know about you or your book? 
#1: I really did work at a locksmith shop for a while, just like Zac does in the book.
#2: I have never dressed up as a giant hot dog (thank goodness!).
#3: Avery's best friend Molly was originally a character in my first published book, Something to Blog About, although she was eventually cut out of it. Then she went through a big makeover when she reappeared in this book.

What advice do you have for parents to encourage their kids to read more? Find books on subjects that your kids already enjoy. A lot of times a kid might say they hate to read just because their only experience with reading is the things they have to read for school, which don't always interest them. If your kid likes aliens, find books about aliens. If they like horses, find series about kids who ride horses. Start with shorter books on things they already like, and then let them gradually move on from there at their own pace.
Thank you, Shana!  If you'd like to see more interviews, stay tuned.  In the meantime, check out author Sybil Nelson's site to enter the Kindle Indie-pendence giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle, a Kindle Fire, or several other great prizes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Win a Kindle, Discover a New Author

To welcome July--and because it makes for a good theme--a group of authors is giving away a Kindle Fire, a Kindle, and a ton of other great prizes (including a copy of Shot Through the Heart) in an "Indie-pendence" Day giveaway.  You can check out the complete details and enter the contest on author Sybil Nelson's site.

In the meantime, I'll post interviews here on my blog with some of the participating authors.  Keep your eyes open over the next few days for those.  You might discover a new fave.

Good luck!