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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Interview with Cherie Reich on writing & Reborn!

Idea City's thrilled to chat with Cherie Reich about writing and Reborn. Oh, and enter the Rafflecopter to win LOTS of great books from Cherie and other Untethered Realms authors!
Cherie, tell us about your main character. 
Yssa is god-chosen as the Phoenix Prophetess. She’s grown up knowing who she is, but that doesn’t change how she wants to be normal, like everyone else. She’s sometimes naïve, self-centered, and wishy-washy, but she can be strong and caring. She genuinely does want to change people’s terrible Fates, even though she often fails.

In what ways does she change? 
Yssa would rather be anyone besides the Phoenix Prophetess, but she must learn and grow to accept her role in Amora’s history. She can still be a little selfish at times, but she’s learning to be less naïve and more certain of herself.

Your favorite line from your protagonist: 
My memories weren’t enough to take with me. I just wouldn’t go to Amora.

From an antagonist:
“Your queen is not all she seems.” Odjin half-heartedly laughed.

An emblematic, teaser paragraph:
The child’s life-thread ripped from his mother’s hand and joined the pulsing jewel on her belt. The piece sizzled, reattaching to the gemstone, and transformed to blood red.

What keeps you going when your inspiration flags? 
Reading. I can always tell when I’m not reading enough since the writing goes downhill.

What truly inspires you and fires up your vision? 
Daydreaming. I love thinking about future scenes, acting them in my head, and figuring out where to go next.

Best words of advice you ever received? 
Write a draft and then put it aside for a while. Coming at a draft with fresh eyes really helps to find problems with the story.

You must write every day. Every day works for some authors. I find I write best in spurts.

Advice to aspiring and new authors?
Read! In your genre, out of your genre. You’ll pick up ways to write by absorbing what you read.

Which do you enjoy writing most: action, romance, setting, dialog?
Good question. Can I say “world building”? It’s similar to setting, but I still feel like I have a hard time with description, but I love finding ways to delve deeper into the world the characters live in.

How is it writing a trilogy? 
I’m still learning about writing a trilogy. Book One is finished and published, but I only have part of Book Two written, and Book Three is only an outline. The biggest challenge will likely be not dropping a story thread. I’m trying to tie everything up at the end, and I fear I’ll miss something. I do love building the world and learning more about the characters and the Kingdom of Amora as I write and plan.

What is the most important theme of book one? Book Two? 
Accepting who you are is a strong theme in the books. Life and death is another as well as free will versus Fate.

Care to share a hint of what’s to come in book three? 
Since Book Two isn’t out yet, I don’t want to give away too much. Let’s just say everything comes together in one epic conclusion.

A hint of what you’re working on next? 
A princess must rise to challenge Fate. I’m expanding a short story within The Fate Challenges’ world to novella-length. The new title is Repledged, and it features Princess Magna and is set 800 years before Reborn.

Find Cherie on the web: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Reborn is available in Ebook and Print! Amazon | Createspace | Google Play | Kobo | Nook | OmniLit | SmashwordsOther Retailers. Click to add on Goodreads.

To save a kingdom, a prophetess must challenge Fate.

On the day of Yssa’s death and rebirth, the god Apenth chose her as the Phoenix Prophetess. Sea serpents and gods endanger the young prophetess’s journey and sour the omens. Yssa is cursed instead of blessed, and her duties at the Temple of Apenth prove it. She spends her days reading dusty scrolls, which does nothing to help her forget Tym, the boy back home. But the annoying yet gorgeous ferryman’s son Liam proves to be a distraction she can’t predict, even though he rarely leaves her alone for two sand grains.

Her boring temple life screeches to a halt when visions of her parents’ murders consume her. Yssa races across an ocean to stop the future. If she can’t change Fate, she’ll refuse to be the Phoenix Prophetess any longer. Fate, however, has other plans for her and the kingdom.

Yssa must either accept her destiny or fight to change Fate.

Cherie Reich, a self-proclaimed bookworm, is a speculative fiction writer and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her books include the horror collection Nightmare, a space fantasy novella collection titled Gravity, and the fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles and The Fate Challenges. Reborn is her debut novel. She is Vice President of Valley Writers and a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Untethered Realms. For more info, visit her website.

Cherie and the authors of Untethered Realms are giving away over $50 worth of books to one lucky winner. The giveaway is open internationally. Enter the Rafflecopter below.

On an unrelated note, Catherine Stine signs at BEA this week! Click for the schedule.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 23, 2014

Heading to BEA & more Exciting News!

First of all, my futuristic thriller, Ruby's Fire is a YA finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards! How cool is that? I get to attend an award party at the Harvard Club. It's the one year anniversary of Ruby's launch so I'm a proud book mama.

The other fun thing is that I'm going to sign at BEA (Book Expo) in NYC. I'll be at the Science Fiction Writers of America Booth 2561 (SFWA) on Thursday (11:30 am to 12) and Friday (3 to 3:30 pm) signing copies of Ruby's Fire and Fireseed One. And I'll also be at the Headline Booth, 2368 on Friday from 4 to 5 pm selling and signing Ruby's Fire with some of the other Next Generation award-winners. 
Are you headed to BEA too? 
If so, then heck, come see me!!! I love to meet my online friends and associates in person!

Thursday, May 29: 11:30 am-12 noon-SFWA Booth 2561
Friday, May 30: 3-3:30 pm-SFWA Booth 2516
Friday, May 30: 4 to 5 pm-Headline Booth 2368

Haven't read Ruby's Fire yet? It's on sale at Amazon! ebook, illustrated paperback

If everything about you changes, what remains?

“Seventeen year-old Ruby and her little brother Thorn, have only known a life blighted by the extremist Fireseed Cult. The night Ruby is set to be claimed by one of its cruelest and oldest leaders, she makes a bid for freedom. With Thorn in tow, she stumbles into the world beyond, and finds an opportunity for a fresh start in Skull’s Wrath under the guidance of Nevada Pilgrim, a woman who may not be all she seems. Ruby's new life could bring her friendship, love, even fortune, but nothing comes without a price. Is Ruby's talent for elixirs keeping the roof over their heads, or do some of her associates have a more sinister and lucrative interest in them? Life outside a strange cult isn't without its dangers, and the experience leaves Ruby transformed and communing with the Fireseed more closely than she ever would have imagined. Stine delivers a thrilling adventure led by an exciting cast of characters, and the romance is well handled.”   -YA’s The Word

Praise for Ruby's Fire:

“Hidden agendas, love triangles, good old-fashioned jealousy & a stunningly imaginative chain of events.” –Mousehead Tales & Reviews

“Ruby's Fire is a novel of creativity and imagination. The worldbuilding is excellent, full of visuals and original concepts.” - Fluttereal Flight

“A heart-pounding tale of deception and danger set in a futuristic world teetering perilously between metamorphosis and destruction.”  -Ciara Knight, author of Weighted & Escapement

And for those in the Philly/Jersey/Delaware area who want to attend an amazing writing retreat, I'll be teaching a concentration of writing YA and NA at the Rosemont, PA writing retreat from June 22-27. Still time to sign up! The deets here!

I even have a little more news! Yup, after a long, cold winter it's a newsy spring. But I'll save that for my next post.
What are you up to this May and June?

Monday, May 19, 2014

How I Found the Write Path blogfest, letters to a younger writer self

If you could write a confidential letter to your younger writer-self, helping ease the way forward or providing some important insights, what would you say? PK Hrezo and Carrie Butler have come up with a great idea: have authors write letters like these, create a How I Found the Write Path blogfest, and also an ebook anthology to help aspiring writers. Awesome, eh? Here's my letter to my nineteen-year-old self:

Dear scared younger author self,

I know you’re eager to write but terrified of spending so much time alone in a room creating stories. You think it might even drive you over the edge. I know
Me at 19
you feel you have much to offer but are shaky because you have no road map to go by, and no mentors yet. You’re brimming with stories, yet unsure of whether to keep doing your drawing and painting, which you were always praised for, or try this writing thing, which no one expected at all.

Let me be your mentor, after the fact. Others will talk with expertise about their amazing business plans, their early credentials. What I can do is clue you in on two extremely helpful things I learned: to trust in my gut instinct and to build community. People aren’t meant to do it alone. Not even writers. Yes, we sit alone in our writing studios and tap out our tales. True, unless you write for TV you don’t write by committee.

Find and build community. There are a myriad of helpful communities to tap into. First of all, I have my writer’s group, a trusted group of fellow authors who workshop each other’s manuscripts. This group provides a sense of joy, camaraderie, confidence and direction—and savvy revise notes! I also belong to a writer’s space. There, I hear others tapping away on their keyboards, which spurs me on. I can take breaks from work and chat in the café area. Participation in member readings is another perk of being in this community.

Then, there’s my team of publishers. I’m a hybrid author. This means big and small publishers have published me, and I’ve indie published. The traditional team consists of an editor, publicist, and agent. The indie team is not that different, except that I get to hire the experts I want—to custom create my team. So, find your perfect publishing community and don’t settle for less. 

Then, there’s the book blogging community. You need these good folks to review your books, and to spread word. Giving back is essential. I frequently promote authors on my blog. I’ve even partnered with like-minded authors in a group blog. We cross-promote and discuss issues, successes and trade questions. Alone, but never really alone after all!

So, decide what you need in community. Then find and build it, and make sure to give back to it. Take your time to find the right ones. This brings me to the second important lesson I’ve learned. 

Follow your gut instincts! I was too shaky when I started, to live by this adage. I put certain writers, editors and agents on pedestals. I had people I barely even knew, much less trusted, reading and critiquing my manuscripts. I did too many changes, according to this or that random comment, without asking myself what I thought. What I truly felt deep down. Ultimately, a writer must listen to his or her gut. Without this prescient instinct as a rudder you can easily drift off your path.

Case in point: the first time I followed my gut on a serious professional level was when a big publishing firm (Random House) offered me a chance to revise one of my early novels on spec. I was still months away from graduating an MFA creative writing program, thus I was hugely flattered and excited by the possibility of being offered a contract. At a meeting with the senior editor and VIP of the company, no less, they ran down items they wanted me to do in a revision. But then they started to disagree with each other, and even to argue over how I should end my novel! (Refugees)

My studio table with my Chinese
good luck dragon, my grandma's
glass shoe, a glass cardinal
and a vintage beer stein
(Baubles help me think!)
Needless to say, I was frozen in fear, and barely managed to scratch out notes. I shook their hands, and ran out. Not only did I disagree with one of them, I vehemently disagreed with both of them on how to end my novel. I consternated, and meditated on it for days. And then, something clicked inside. I knew I had to go with my gut instinct, and keep the ending I wanted, while making other tweaks that I did agree with. I sent the manuscript back, literally quaking. 

When I got a call two weeks later that they were offering me a contract, I felt deeply relieved . . . and vindicated! That was the beginning of always making sure I followed my gut. 

So, good luck, be brave and celebrate being alone in your studio. Your characters will keep you company, plus all of the wonderful people in your writing community and mentors that you’ll find on your way. You have your sixth sense to guide you.
(Carrie and PK, I say yes to inclusion in the anthology :) )

Here's the link to read other writers' posts. But before you hop away, how would you answer this?
What one piece of advice would you have loved to give your younger writer self?

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Writing Process, What's Yours?

Today I'll focus on my writing process, part of a craft thread that the talented Donna Galanti invited me to be a part of. A bit about Donna:

She writes suspense, YA, and middle grade fiction and is represented by Bill Contardi of Brandt & Hochman Literary. She's an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A HUMAN ELEMENT (Echelon). Watch for her suspense novel A HIDDEN ELEMENT, the sequel to A HUMAN ELEMENT, coming summer 2014 by Imajin. Her middle grade series, JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, debuts in 2015 by Month9Books.

Her writing process question made me wonder what is my writing process exactly?

The Cape porch where I started to
write Fireseed One, Ruby's Fire
and Model Position
I tend to start projects in the beginning of the summer, often at the writing retreat I go to at the Cape, where I can get totally lost in daydreams. It takes me around six months to do a first draft, though I've done them faster: once for an American Girl project in a month (!!!) and another during Nanowrimo (61K words in a month). I'm trying to fast draft now, but it doesn't always work, because I'm the type of writer who needs to know where the plot is going first. Yes, I outline, but not in too much detail.
I work on one novel draft a time, though once in a while I'm revising one project, while drafting another. I get into my characters quite deeply, so it can get confusing to write two first drafts at once.
I've written middle grade lit, A Girl's Best Friend, a ghostwritten novel and a story called the Fashion Show for a Scholastic book club anthology. More recently, I've written YA: Refugees, Fireseed One, Ruby's Fire. And I'm continuing to write YA. I've also really gotten into writing new adult: Model Position, and the continuation of that storyline in my forthcoming novel, Private Internship. I love writing new adult, because the boundaries of what can be portrayed are pretty boundless. I like boundless.
And I like romance. We'll see where my journey takes me!

Taking a poll. What should I work on next? Book 3 of Sienna's artistic journey or
a historical romance set in the 30s?

And now, I'm happy to introduce the two writers who I've selected to talk about their writing journeys for their own posts on May 21.

The first author is Helen Mallon, who writes contemporary fiction that straddles the line between literary and women's fiction (if you had to categorize it, which she may give me a sharp elbow nudge for doing). Her writing truly impresses me: her wordcraft and character portrayals are masterful. And she's got a brand new bundle of stories coming out!

The second is Elizabeth Arroyo, a wonderful author of paranormal and romantic fiction. Her dark fantasy series The Second Sign and The Second Shadow are real rollercoaster rides.

So make sure to check out their posts on Wednesday, May 21!

What's one hallmark aspect of your writing process?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pictures of spring in NYC

Rather than write a post about how wonderful it is that spring is finally here in New York City, I thought I'd just say it in pictures.

Flowers in Peter Stuyvesant Park

Cherry Blossoms in Stuyvesant Park
 Macy's perfume display
Upper East Side brownstone display

The Red Queen, Macy's Flower Show
The Red Queen's moat

What's your favorite image of spring in your city?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Meradeth Houston Opens up about Writing & Surrender the Sky

Today, Idea City welcomes Meradeth Houston. Her brand new novel, Surrender the Sky is out and I know you're curious about it, so take it away, Meradeth.

Thanks so much for asking me here today, Catherine! Here's the rundown on Surrender the Sky:

Gabby lives by two unbreakable rules: don’t expose her kind, the Sary, and don’t fall in love—too bad some rules are made to be broken.

When Gabby’s most difficult charge accidentally shoots her in front of a class full of students, the event exposes her carefully hidden identity. She shifts from looking like a normal teen to her secret Sary form, revealing her wings and the existence of her kind—immortals who try to keep people from committing suicide. Her incident attracts the attention of the next leader of the Sary, Jassen, who offers her an impossible bargain: she can keep her wings if she makes amends with those who know the truth. Things get more complicated when a rebel Sary, intent on exposing them to the world, starts interfering with Gabby’s work. And there’s no denying her attraction to Jassen, who is torn between his duties and his heart. With threats at every turn and her immortality on the line, Gabby has to find a way to save the Sary or surrender the sky forever.

Tell us about your main characters:
Gabby is the main character. She’s a pretty typical Sary, AKA a being who wasn’t able to take her first breath and is therefore sent to help people who are on the verge of taking their own life. She has to face some pretty horrible situations, and doesn’t feel exactly ready to take on the responsibility that come with them, but she has some amazing friends who help her out :).

In what ways do they change?
Over the course of Surrender, Gabby has to come to terms with what she is, and the gifts she’s been given. Also, she has to know just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for what she loves. It’s not an easy decision!

Give us your favorite line from your protagonist
Hmm, that’s a tough choice. “How could I give this up? Surrender the sky? It wasn’t fair. I wanted to choose for myself.” I think this is one of my favorite lines from Gabby.

From an antagonist
Leon is the antagonist in this book, and wow does he have a lot of tricks up his sleeve. How about this one: “Leon, his lips still pink from the kisses we’d shared, turned to me. “I may not be him, but I have so much more to offer.” He managed the same little quirk of a smile patented by Jassen and took my hand from where it sat in my lap and pressed it to his mouth.”

An emblematic, teaser paragraph
This is how things get started: “I knew the day was not going to end well as soon as I saw the gun. It bulged in the outside pocket of his backpack, hidden unless someone looked for it. Of course, I had to be the one looking for it.”

What keeps you going when your inspiration flags?
Hot chocolate. Lots of it :). Reading something else awesome that distracts me from my own world so I can return to it with fresh eyes.

What truly inspires you and fires up your vision?
A good book or movie that gets my creative juices flowing. Also, a long afternoon with nothing else on where I can actually relax and enjoy myself. There are very, very few days like this, but I treasure them.

Best words of advice you ever received?
Take time to do what makes you happy. It’s so important! Life is short.

Strive for perfection. I hate this. Like, with a passion. Because it haunts me. And it’s impossible to attain, which just messes with my head. I hate that anyone would even suggest that you should shoot for this—impossible goals help no one! (End mini rant! Haha, can’t help it!)

Some writing advice to aspiring and new authors?
Keep writing and don’t give up! The only way to improve is to keep going, even if some days it feels like slogging through ten feet of snow, uphill, in -20 weather with a wind chill.

Which do you enjoy writing most: action, romance, setting, dialog?
Hmm, that’s a toss up before action and romance. Dialog is part of both, as is settling, but I love a scene that is fast paced and gets my blood pumping.

A hint of what you’re working on next?
The fourth book in the series, which I hope I can pull together. It’s a crazy tale with several different points of view, but so far it’s been a blast to write.

Where can readers find you on the web?
My favorite haunts: website, blog, Facebook, Twitter

Buy the ebook! Amazon, Goodreads

A bit about Meradeth:
*I'm a California girl. This means I talk too fast and use "like" a lot.
*I have my doctorate in molecular anthropology. Translation: I sequence dead people's DNA and spend a whole lot of time in a lab, which I love.
*I've been writing since I was 11 years old. It's my hobby, my passion, and I'm so happy to get to share my work.
*My other passion is teaching. There's nothing more fun than getting a classroom of college kids fired up about anthropology!
*If I could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is strange, because I'm terrified of heights.