Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Process Project: Meet Kara Jorgensen!

If you're not yet familiar with the Process Project, check us out here!
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Kara Jorgensen is an author and professional student from New Jersey who will probably die slumped over a Victorian novel. An anachronistic oddball from birth, she has always had an obsession with the Victorian era, especially the 1890s. Midway through a dissection in a college anatomy class, Kara realized her true passion was writing and decided to marry her love of literature and science through science fiction or, more specifically, steampunk. When she is not writing, she is watching period dramas, going to museums, or babying her beloved dogs.

And now, for the questions...

JB: What is your genre? 

KJ: My main genre currently is historical fantasy or more specifically steampunk, but my work tends to have a literary fiction edge. I have another series on the backburner that I will be working on soon that is fantasy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Process Project: Meet Gareth S. Young!

If you're not yet familiar with the Process Project, check us out here!

Meet Gareth S. Young!

This week I am proud to introduce my friend who I call Spartagus :) I met Gareth on Twitter and read his book Monsters (which you should get your copy of asap!) and we became fast friends! 

Gareth S. Young was born and raised in Scotland, but has now lived for more than 15 years in the American Midwest. This has played havoc with his accent. In 2010, he published his first full length story, a mystery/suspense novel called Monsters  In April 2013, his short story "The Orange-headed Serpent" was published in the Orange Karen Anthology. 2015 will see the release of Dynamo City: The Wolves of Dynamo, part one of an audacious YA urban fantasy series. Other upcoming works include Persephone, the much anticipated follow up to Monsters  and part two of the Dynamo City saga.

And now for the questions....

JB: What is your main genre of writing? 

GY: Mystery/thriller, although I'm currently working on a series of Young Adult Urban Fantasy books.

JB: What is your writing routine? 

GY: I usually write at my desk on the PC or on the couch with the laptop. Invariably I find myself writing at night, since I work second shift and get home late. I have found that my inability to sleep and my imagination intersect perfectly in the evening time. When I'm writing, I often use music to set the general mood, to influence pace, or to focus on a specific emotion. I tend towards music without lyrics, to avoid getting too caught up in the words, and that means I have several movie soundtracks in constant rotation. There's no special food I like to eat. In fact, I prefer not to eat when I'm writing to avoid greasy fingers, interruptions in my typing and, I really need to watch my weight. Plenty of liquids, though.

JB: When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques or methods do you use to organize your ideas? 

GY: I always try to write down ideas--on bits of paper if I'm not at home, or on the computer if I am. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I'm going to write before I really get stuck into it, just playing ideas out in my head until something feels good. I'll run scenes that will mark the path to the end, although I leave a lot of room for the characters to lead me off in different directions. I like to build the characters from the ground up, giving them a deep history, even if I never use it, and figure out character traits and dynamics between characters. That way, I will be able to write in different voices without feeling all my characters sound the same.

JB: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work? 
GY: I tend not to get stuck too much in one format, but I like to make sure there's a certain symmetry to my stories. I love the idea of fractals -- a never ending pattern on any scale. You can zoom in and see the same image as if you zoom out. In stories I like the idea that the broad theme of the story can be seen whether you look at the story as a whole or if you're looking at only one character. Sort of like a fractal.

Also, you have to understand the arc of your main character, your character has to "change" in some way, so it's important you know how to affect that change. Sometimes this means breaking down the most important scenes, figuring out where they go in the story, and connecting the dots between. Sometimes it means writing yourself into a corner to see if your character can get out of it. I write important dialogue heavy scenes first as pure dialogue, no description or direction, just to get the beats of the conversation. With action, I do a rough outline to be fine tuned later. I find opening chapters difficult. The first half-dozen are often the most re-written in my stories. Once I get going, though, I am usually able to see the map in my head and I write to that. I'll write down details, dates, times, and all the character information for reference, but my stories sometimes have little shape until I've gone through them once. I actually broke Monsters into three sections/parts/acts to pace it out better. For my urban fantasy I just wrote and the rhythm came naturally.

JB: When it's time to revise/edit your work, do you have any particular methods that you use to help you through the process?

GY: Yes, I use an editor. lol. My first release of Monsters was riddled with mistakes despite the fact I went through it a dozen times. I think after a while, you become blind to your own mistakes, so it's always better to get some fresh eyes on it. I pulled the book and enlisted the editorial services of Gina Hylton (a.k.a. author Regina West), who whipped it into fighting shape. I re-released it, feeling much better about it. Being self-published puts you under a little more scrutiny, and I've learned there's no reason to settle for second best just because you put the book out yourself. Work hard, get help, hire an editor and probably someone to do your cover. The dollars might add up, but its worth it to put out the best book you can.

JB: And most importantly: why do you write? 

GY: I write because I remember what it was like sitting in a movie theater as the Imperial Star Destroyer chased the rebel transport through space...and remember watching Bruce Willis realize he was a ghost. I remember racing through the words as Boo Radley rescued Jem...and being shocked to discover the man from The Scythe wasn't just cutting wheat, he was doing the work of Death...and stunned as the hunters returned from the past in A Sound of Thunder to find their own time had changed because one of them had strayed from the artificial path and crushed a butterfly. It is so much fun to be caught up in a make-believe world to the point you are invested in a make-believe character. I don't know why we care about these things, but we do, and the excitement, terror, and satisfaction we can feel from stories is something I want to recreate and share.

* Imperial Star Destroyer chasing Rebel transport? Star Wars of course. A ghostly Bruce Willis? The Sixth Sense. Boo Radley and Jem are from To Kill a Mockingbird. The Scythe and A Sound of Thunder are two classic short stories by Ray Bradbury.
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Thank you so much, Gareth, for participating in the Process Project! 

You must follow SpartaGus on the web!
 @Spartagus on Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Wattpad | Blog | Monsters

Monsters (available as paperback and Kindle ebook)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Process Project: Meet Talia Vance!

If you're not yet familiar with the Process Project, check us out here!

Meet Talia Vance!

This week I am so incredibly excited to share my interview with Talia Vance. Last summer I read Talia's Silver (ripe with Irish lore and handsome boys and tons of drama to boot....I am holding off reading the sequel, Gold, until this summer).

Talia Vance is a practicing litigation attorney living in Northern California with her real life love interest, two-point-five kids, and a needy Saint Bernard named Huckleberry. Talia has been writing since she could talk, making up stories for every doll, stuffed animal and action figure she could get her hands on. She grew up hoping to write the great American novel, but her life ran more along the lines of tortured romance and fast paced thrillers, so that's what she writes. (From TaliaVance.com)

And now, onto the juicy stuff....!

JB: What is your main genre?

TV: I write Young Adult novels, both contemporary and fantasy, but all of them have a touch of romance to them.

JB: ​What is your writing routine like? Do you have any writing rituals?

Talia: Since I work during the week, my writing time falls on the weekends. I spend most Saturday and Sunday afternoons curled up on my couch with my laptop and a latte (or two). I’ll write for hours at a time, shooting for 2500-4000 words a session if I’m working on a first draft. If I’m revising, I don’t have specific word count goals, but I do try to set a goal, such as finishing a new plot outline, or working setting details into the scenes.

I often listen to music while I write, creating a playlist for each manuscript. Once I find a song that fits a character or mood I’m trying to create, I listen to it while brainstorming or editing, although I don’t really “hear” it unless I stop to think.

JB: When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques do you use to organize your ideas?

Talia: My pre-writing process has always been short, because I love to discover characters and plot points while I write the first draft. However, this leads to a lot of stops and starts (and LOTS of revision), so I’ve expanded it for recent books, taking a couple of days to formulate scenes and plot points, so that I have a fairly complete outline of the story before I start.


I use a corkboard and stack of index cards to brainstorm ideas for scenes. There are usually four or five big scenes that I already have in mind, so I start with those, and then fill in the scenes that happen in between. Once I have the scenes in an order that makes sense, I start to write.

I’ve noticed that I almost never go back and look at my corkboard once the work is done, but doing the work ahead of time helps me to keep the entire plot trajectory in mind while I’m writing, so that even when the story deviates from the initial plan there is a structure there.

JB: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?

Talia: Every book has been a little different, but I usually start one Word document and write scenes in chronological order. I don’t outline scenes in advance, and often have only a vague idea of what happens. The scene prompt might be as simple as “A and B go out on a date.” I let the scene unfold as I’m writing, and often the characters and situation will supply the conflict without my having to think about it too much about it. Since I’ve already done my plot outline, I know where the scene fits into the overall story structure. This helps with making sure the scene moves the story forward, but I don’t worry about that while I’m writing. That is something that can always be fixed in revision.

My favorite scenes are usually the ones that surprise me while I’m writing them, when a character does something that reveals a layer I wasn’t aware of, or the story takes a compelling turn I hadn’t yet thought about. One of my favorite plot lines in the BANDIA series is Brianna’s time travel scenes with Austin and the way those scenes bring us full circle. Those scenes weren’t in my outline, but flowed organically during the writing.

​JB: When it's time to revise, do you have any particular methods that you use to help you through the process? ​

Talia: My revision process works from the outside in. I start with a big picture plot overview. After the first draft is done, I take down my corkboard and create a new one, using cards for each chapter in the book and pinning them to the board to give me a visual representation of the novel. Recently, I’ve added a calendar, which I create from a Word template, which gives me a visual representation of the story’s plot points in relation to each other on a timeline. From there, I figure out where there are gaps in the plot (scenes that need to be added) and scenes that aren’t serving the story (things that need to be cut). I’ll also move scenes around on the board, experimenting with different plot structure before making any changes in the manuscript. Once I’ve determined what to cut, add and move, I create a third corkboard, which serves as the outline for the next revision. Then I go into the manuscript and cut, add and move as needed.

Once I have the plot where I feel comfortable with it, I will start working on the scenes within the story. First, I’ll go through and note where certain plot points need to be expanded or dropped within the scenes themselves. Once this is done, I’ll do a revision where I focus on conflict within scenes, then one pass for setting, one pass for dialogue and one for voice. Once those are done, I’ll send the word document to my Kindle and do a read through. This is my favorite part, because the manuscript looks like a real book, and both the parts that are working and the parts that still need work are easier to spot.

JB: And most importantly....why do you write?

Talia: I love to discover characters and stories. There is nothing like the excitement the comes with an idea you can’t shake, the need to get it all down and see where it leads, and the satisfaction of watching something rough develop into something you love.

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I want to extend a big giant THANK YOU to Talia for participating in the Process Project. I hope you enjoyed her interview as much as I did. You should go out and get a copy of her books now! You can purchase Talia's books on Amazon.  And you can check her out on the web in these spots!

Read more about her books below!!!

SILVER 

"As I step into the room, a silver flash blurs my vision. Before I can take a breath, the world falls away."

Brianna has always felt invisible. People stare right past her, including the one boy she can't resist, Blake Williams. But everything changes at a house party when Brianna's charm bracelet slips off and time stands still. In that one frozen, silver moment, Blake not only sees her, he recognizes something deep inside her that she's been hiding even from herself. Discovering she is descended from Danu, the legendary Bandia of Celtic myth, Brianna finds herself questioning the truth of who she is. And when she accidentally binds her soul to Blake, their mutual attraction becomes undeniable. But Blake has his own secret, one that could prove deadly for them both. Bound together by forbidden magic, Brianna and Blake find themselves at the heart of an ancient feud that threatens to destroy their lives and their love.

Read SILVER: Amazon | B&N | BAM | Kindle | Nook



GOLD 

Descended from an Irish demigod, Brianna has fled to Ireland to escape destruction at the hands of her sworn enemies, the Sons of Killian. Taking refuge at the estate of her former nemesis, Austin Montgomery, Brianna discovers a rift in time that opens to an era before the feud began.

Wrestling with her newfound feelings for the more innocent Austin, Brianna begins to wonder if she can alter the past. But when Brianna and Austin learn that the Sons are raising an army of mythical beasts, the pair will need to use their magical strength in the present to avoid a tragic end.

Read GOLD: Amazon | B&N | BAM | Kindle | Nook


SPIES AND PREJUDICE

Fields' Rule #1: Don't fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She's busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she's sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her "nothing amazing," it's no loss for Berry. She'll forget him in no time. She's more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother's death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can't Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.

Read SPIES AND PREJUDICE : Amazon | B&N | BAM 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Michelle Madow's Diamonds Are Forever Cover Reveal!!


It's May fifth! You know what that means...no, I'm not talking about Cinco de Mayo....today is Michelle Madow's Diamonds are Forever cover reveal!

"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas … but that doesn’t matter when you live there. Sisterhood, first crushes and scandalous secrets explode in book three of Michelle Madow’s The Secret Diamond Sisters."

Needless to say, I am so excited to be a part of today's cover reveal!!! The official reveal happened earlier today on USA Today's Happily Ever After blog. AHHH. USA TODAY?! Words cannot express how proud I am of Michelle. If you haven't read the first two books in The Secret Diamond Sisters series, please do. They are super fun and addictive. I love all of her characters and their individual stories...and book two (Diamonds in the Rough) leaves readers wanting more. I can't wait to read the final book in this trilogy, though I must admit it's a melancholy moment -- been waiting to find out what happens next, but knowing every word you read gets you closer to the end -- will definitely have to saver this one!

Michelle started off by self-publishing her first trilogy, the Transcend Time Saga, and then, through hard work and perseverance, Michelle got a three book deal with Harlequin Teen! I'm not sure what she's got up her sleeve next, but I have no doubts it's going to be amazing!

And now....here is the BEAUTIFUL cover......!!!!



It's cold outside, but the drama is hot!

The Diamond sisters jet to the mountains for spring break, and Savannah's flirt-mance with international pop star Perry Myles continues as her pursuit of stardom succeeds. But is it "meant to be" with Perry, or has the right guy been in front of her eyes this entire time? Meanwhile, Courtney takes the next step with her secret boyfriend -- and future stepbrother -- Brett…and with Adrian and Rebecca's wedding approaching, they feel more pressure than ever to reveal their relationship. Peyton might be figuring out a direction for her future, but she feels responsible for her bodyguard Jackson being fired, and wonders if the best way to find solace for her guilt is in the arms of someone else. But the biggest bombshell will change everything once again, because Madison's ready to tell the Diamond sisters the truth about the huge secret she's uncovered. And with Oliver, the boy who betrayed her but who could be the love of her life, in the hospital fighting for his own life, she might need the Diamonds more than ever.

Pre-order your copy today!


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Michelle Madow wrote her first novel, Remembrance, in her junior year of college. Remembrance is the first book in The Transcend Time Saga, a three part series about reincarnation and true love that Michelle successfully self-published. The series was inspired by Taylor Swift's "Love Story" music video. Michelle's latest YA series, The Secret Diamond Sisters, about three sisters who discover they are the secret heirs to a Las Vegas billionaire casino owner, was published in March 2014 by Harlequin Teen. The second book in the series, Diamonds in the Rough, released in November 2014, and the third book, Diamonds are Forever, will be coming out in November 2015. Michelle is active on social media networks and has toured across America to promote her books and encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing.
Michelle lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she is writing more novels for young adults. She loves reading, spending time with family and friends, traveling the world, shopping, Disney fairy tales, Broadway musicals, and loves talking with fans on Facebook (/MichelleMadow), Twitter (@MichelleMadow), and Instagram (@MichelleMadow).

To chat with Michelle and other fans about her books, join Michelle Madow's Street Team on Facebook!

Connect with Michelle:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Goodreads


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