Indie Chicks!

Hi all!

This week, I was the featured guest on the podcast/Youtube channel Indie Chicks, where I talked to hosts Melissa Koberlein and Jeni Chappelle about dusting off an old story idea.

You can check out the video here, and please show the channel some love. They are a great pair and their series is a wonderful resource on all things writing.

Please excuse my face in the screencap. LOL

Interview with Christi J. Whitney

Today on the blog, I’m interviewing Christi J. Whitney a YA author with a successful series on the market. I’ll post links so you can all go follow her after the interview. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. 

Justine: Hello, and welcome back to my blog! The last time you appeared on my site, it was in the form of an author spotlight, two years ago, and your last book release had been Book 2 of your Romany Outcasts series. Since then, Book 3 was released. Tell us more about that book. 

Christi: Yes, it has been a couple of years! Well, the third book in the trilogy is titled MIDNIGHT. It finishes out the story arc of Sebastian Grey and Josephine Romany, and it continues immediately after SHADOW.  Although I had originally envisioned The Romany Outcasts Series to be four books, my publisher wanted a trilogy, so I did a lot of editing and rethinking the storyline to bring everything to a satisfactory close in MIDNIGHT. I had the least amount of time to write this book, as I was under a deadline, so it was certainly a challenge, but I am pleased with how it turned out. MIDNIGHT differs from the other two books, in that a good majority of the novel is told from Josephine’s point of view, so we are able to get a more in-depth look into her life and emotions than I was able to present in GREY and SHADOW.

Justine: How did it feel to bring that era to a close?

Christi: Although my plan for four books had to change when I sold my book series to HarperCollins, I still have the outline for book four, and I do have plans to write it in the future. I don’t know what that will look like as of yet. It might be something I self-publish; but I love these characters so much, and I really want the chance to do a little more with them.

Justine: On my blog, we’ve been talking a lot about writing what you know. You don’t have to get super personal with this, but are there any aspects of your story which came from personal experience?  

Christi: Oh, there were definitely several aspects of my story that came from personal experience. At the time I began writing GREY (the first book in the series) I was teaching and directing theatre full time at a local high school. I modeled many of my characters directly from students that were in my program. In fact, my students were the ones who encouraged me to turn this story idea I had into a full novel, and a few of them even volunteered to read my chapters and give feedback as I wrote them. The Gypsy Ink Tattoo Parlor and the guys that worked there were also modeled after things and people I knew in real life. And finally, I gleamed the idea of the Romani characters from some of my own family history.

Justine: What are you currently working on? 

Christi: I have a completed novel called BLEEDER that I am currently shopping around. BLEEDER is also YA, but with a bit more urban fantasy and science fiction bent to it. The story takes place in a small coastal town in Georgia and deals with different dimensions, strange creatures, and a girl with unusual gifts. As to what I’m writing at the moment…I’m about half-way through a first draft of an untitled novel that I would categorize as light science fiction. The characters are fun, and I’m have a blast writing the dialogue in this novel.

Justine: Oh, BLEEDER sounds interesting. And I can’t wait until you’re ready to share more about that light sci-fi. On a different note, I see you like to Cosplay! A fellow geek like me. 🙂 Please, please, PLEASE share your favorite cosplay with us. Pictures or it didn’t happen. 😉 

Christi and friend as Sven and Kristoff from Frozen

Christi: I’m so pleased you asked me this! Yes, I definitely like to cosplay, and I am a huge geek. If it’s fantasy or science-fiction related, I probably love it (unless I am simply not familiar with it). And I do enjoy cosplaying characters that I really adore. I think my very first cosplay (years ago) was Jack Sparrow. Since then, I’ve done everything from dwarves from the Hobbit, Frozen, Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, X-Men, and How to Train Your Dragon.

Christi as Nightcrawler from X-Men

My most recent favorite cosplay, however, has to be Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series. The Professor has been an unexpected, but wonderful experience for me.

Christi as Professor Snape from Harry Potter

About a year ago, I made a profile on  the Musical.ly app as a way to try and connect with readers. But I decided to sort of give it variety by posting a mixture of book/writing things with some cosplay. Not long after, Musical.ly became TikTok, and I began getting a lot of traffic for my Professor Snape cosplay. Fast forward a few months later, and it’s become a crazy thing! I’ve connected with so many readers and have been able to talk so much about writing and books…but it’s really all because of my cosplay. So I owe the professor quite a bit of love. I have a few cosplay pictures here, but if you’d like to see more of Snape, you are welcome to check out my TikTok page (christij.whitney)

Justine: Those are SO COOL. You just made the geek in me very happy. So, you clearly have a flare for the dramatic, between teaching theatre and cosplaying. What led you on the path to becoming a writer? 

Christi: My path to becoming a writer began, as many paths do, when I was a child. The first true fantasy book I ever remember reading was The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. It opened up a door to me that I didn’t know existed. I would write little short stories and create characters in fantasy worlds similar to Narnia. By the time I was in middle school. I was writing quite a lot, but I had no confidence, and I refused to show anything I’d written to anyone. It all stayed carefully hidden in journals and folders. In high school, I was bitten by the theatre bug, and I went to college to become a theatre teacher. I spent many years doing that, but the stage became my way of creating stories, so my writing took a back seat. Then, one Christmas break, several years into teaching, I began having these ideas for a story pop into my head. I shared them with some of my students, and they convinced me to write it down. So I put on my dusty writing cap and began. It was a big learning process, especially because I was learning towards young adult fiction. I had to learn how to pace my writing and how to balance description and dialogue. Despite having an English degree, I felt like a complete writing novice. But I attended classes, joined SCBWI, found a critique group…and I got better at my craft.

Justine: I love it. What inspires you?

Christi: Gosh, everything! I get a lot of inspiration from film and television shows, and also from books. Theatre is inspiring because I love the process of creating characters and fleshing them out. Teaching novels to students does the same thing. I could discuss plot, characters, and motivation all day. As I said, I’m a huge geek, so I look to all kinds of fantasy lore to spark something fresh in my brain.

Justine: If you could pick the brain of any writer, which would you choose?

Christi: I have so many writers I adore, and they come from different places and times. I’d certainly love to pick the brains of some of the giants — Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. But I also wouldn’t mind sitting down with some of the great YA authors currently out there, like Cassandra Clare and definitely J.K. Rowling…I’d also love picking the brain of Jack Thorne and John Tiffany (who helped Rowling writing the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).

Justine: If your geeky self could choose any imaginary world to live in, where would you go and why? 

Christi:  It is so difficult for me to chose the fantasy world I’d best like to live in. I suppose it depends on what type of character I was able to be in those worlds. I will always adore Narnia, but I would want to be some magical creature there. I would love to travel with the Doctor in the universe of Doctor Who (even if that’s more science fiction), but if I had to only choose one…maybe the Wizarding World…I’d love to be a Hogwarts professor like Snape or McGonagall. 

Justine: And now it’s time for our rapid fire Q&A segment!

Q: Favorite writing instrument? 
A: Computer

Q: Plotter or Pantser? 
A: Both

Q: Chocolate, Vanilla, or other?
A: Toffee

Q: Sweet or savory? 
A: Savory

Q: Favorite book? 
A: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Q: Dream vacation?
A: The U.K.

Q: Dogs or Cats?
A: Dog

Thank you so much for joining us, Christi! If you want to follow Christi on the web, you can check her out at the following links:

Website: http://christijwhitney.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christijwhitney/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristiWhitney
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christijwhitney/


Interview with Lina Rehal

Today on the blog, I’m interviewing Lena Rehal, an author of “seasoned” contemporary romance. Lina has many books and essays released, and I’ll post links so you can all go follow her after the interview. I hope you enjoy getting to know Lina as much as I have. 

Justine: When we first spoke, you described your stories as “seasoned” contemporary romance? Can you explain what that means to you and why you decided to write in that specific category of the genre?

Lina: Seasoned romance is becoming more popular. It’s defined as stories with heroines/heroes being 30 and up. To me, seasoned means a bit older than that. My characters are usually late forties/early fifties with an older couple in some sort of sub-plot. It’s easier for me to relate to this age group. I like stories with second chances at love. It’s what I like to read and what I like to write about.

Justine: On my blog, we’ve been talking a lot about writing what you know, and I see that you stand by this idea as well. You don’t have to get super personal with this, but which of your books feels like it’s steeped the most in your experiences, whether it’s setting, character, careers, etc.

Lina: I’d have to say LOVING DANIEL. Although Grace Madden isn’t really like me, she is a romance writer. The significance of the yellow roses in the story came from my love of yellow roses. Part of the book is set in Ogunquit, Maine where Aidan takes her for a day. Ogunquit is one of my favorite places. I have tons of pictures from various trips there with my husband. In fact, the cover is a photo I took myself of a spot in Perkins Cove that we like, which also had significance in the story.

I sprinkle a little of the places I know and visit often in all my books. In LASTING IMPRESSIONS, Dylan and Valerie spend a weekend in North Conway, New Hampshire, another one of my favorite vacation spots.

Even in my first romance story, OCTOBER IN NEW YORK, Gwendolyn and Thomas watched fireworks over Boston Harbor from a hotel at the airport. I was able to describe it well, because I’ve done it. I guess my settings reflect the most of my experiences in each of my books. I like bringing people to my favorite places with words.

Justine: You discuss your muse on your website—do you have any writing rituals that help to make your muse cooperate?

Lina: I often write big chunks of a story in my head. By letting a storyline percolate for days or even weeks, it gets my muse ready for action when I sit down to put words to paper. This is when the story seems to write itself. I love it. Some good ideas come to me while I’m driving. I’m not crazy about this, as I can forget it before I get home. Other times, when I’m stuck, I switch to another book I’m working on or story. It gets the process in motion again.

Justine: I see you like to write a lot about nostalgia. Current fiction trends, on TV and in movies especially, seem to be leaning toward nostalgia for the 80’s, while yours goes a little further back in time. What is it about nostalgia that you feel makes it so popular?

Lina: Most people love to reminisce. I think they like looking back and remembering a time when life was simpler for them. I’m a baby-boomer. I grew up in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I don’t think there’s been another era like it.

My first book, CAROUSEL KISSES, is a collection of nostalgic stories and personal essays about the days of lemonade stands, amusement parks, penny arcades, the big silver screen, drive-in movies, corner drugstores with soda fountains, five and ten cent stores and penny candy. The book has been popular, not only with baby boomers, but with people of all ages.

Justine: What led you on the path to becoming a writer?

Lina: My first published piece was in a small yearbook in the 5th grade. I still cherish that book with the faded mimeographed pages. That may be what got me started. That and my love of telling stories.

Justine: What inspires you?

Lina: I love this question. Authors are inspired by so many things. Mostly, our surroundings. We observe people. We eavesdrop on conversations in restaurants, coffee shops, elevators and in line at the movies and the supermarket. Sometimes it can be the least little thing that hits me and I’m itching to turn it into a story. I tell people to be careful what they say when they are having a quiet, intimate dinner or talking on their cell phone in public. Something they say could end up in a book.

Justine: It’s so true! We’re always listening. If you could pick the brain of any writer, which would you choose?

Lina: Nora Roberts. She’s my favorite. Love her romance books. I’ve read most of them.

Justine: Tell us about your most recent release.

Lina: Lasting Impressions is book two of my Tucker’s Landing Series. Dylan Granger is the newest resident in this lovely coastal town. He gets more than he bargained for when he buys an old waterfront estate. The handsome architect’s plans for the property put him at odds with the neighbors. Valerie Fitzgerald, a real estate broker he’s never met, has a personal grudge against him and leads the crusade.

Fate throws them together in an unexpected encounter on White Stone Beach. Dylan hides his identity from her when he realizes who she is and leaves abruptly. When they meet again, his identity becomes apparent. So does their mutual attraction for one another. They later become trapped overnight in his home during a terrible storm. A little candlelight and cognac help get them through a power failure.

It took me about a year to write this one. I put it aside for almost another year. I just wasn’t ready to finalize it. Kept putting it off. I wrote JILLIE & SAM in the meantime. Then, finally, I pulled it back out, made the necessary changes and finished the process to self-publication.

Justine: That sounds really great. Oddly, I’ve just picked up a book I started and couldn’t finish. I’m revisiting it now and I’m excited to finish it, but it took a year to get there. 

Now for our quick fire question segment:

Q: Favorite writing instrument?

A: Desktop

Q: Plotter or Pantser?

A: Pantster

Q: Chocolate, Vanilla, or other?

A: Vanilla spice

Q: Sweet or savory?

A: Savory

Q: Favorite book?

A: Scarlett

Q: Dream vacation?

A: Disneyworld!

Q: Dogs or Cats?

A: Cats

Justine: Thank you so much for joining us today, Lina. If you are interested in following Lina on her writing journey, please follow her at the social media links posted below. 

Websites: www.linarehal.com

www.thefuzzypinkmuse.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008L5FNPS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefuzzypinkmuse/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarouselKisses

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lina-rehal-28249214/

Connecting the Dots of Plots

After a long August taking some time to repair myself and take stock of things (more on that later), I’ve returned with another CraftQuest video panel. Oh and hey! I’ve officially joined the CraftQuest team! So that’s some awesome news. And it’s just the beginning. I’m making some other moves, and I will discuss them as they begin to hopefully fall into place.

For now, check out the CraftQuest team as we discuss the important points of plot. And stay tuned for our next live panel on September 29th at 5PM EST, where we will discuss the essentials of editing with special guest star Jeni Chappelle. Enjoy!

ICYMI: Craft Quest talks Character Building

If you want to learn more about the best ways to build a character, as well as hear an inordinate amount of cinnamon roll related discussion, check out the YouTube Live panel I participated in on Saturday on Craft Quest’s channel. The archived version is currently available. Craft Quest was created by Maria Tureaud and Ari Augustine, and Megan Manzano and I had a great time chatting with them. Tune in below.

 

Extremely Last Minute Announcement…

Hello all,

I’m usually better about giving you guys notice when I’m going to be somewhere or do something, but my 9-5 work life has been absolutely insane lately, which basically meant I worked until I came home and knocked out from sleepiness and stress. However, there is an important thing going on today, TODAY, that I would love for you guys to attend from the comfort of your own home.

Today at 5PM EST, I will be appearing on the first ever live stream over on the YouTube channel Craft Quest which you should totally subscribe to. Craft Quest is a great YouTube channel, looking to help writers, which we all know is my bag. So today, together with Craft Quest team Maria Tureaud and Ari Augustine, YA Fantasy Author Vivian Reis, and one of my Inkwell Council co-runners, Megan Manzano, we will be discussing starting your story–beginnings.

It will be a live stream, so you can send in questions and pick our brains. I’m so excited to hear what questions you have waiting for us, and to get to sit on this virtual panel with so many great people in the writing community. So come check us out, that’s 5PM EST on the Craft Quest Youtube Channel.

Oh, and you should subscribe to their channel, because they will be giving away three copies of Scrivener, an awesome writing software, once they hit 300 subscribers.

Hope to see you there!

Entangled Teen Presents: Why I love Epic Fantasy!

entteen-urbanbattleepic560x315opt2-1

Today, we’re continuing Urban vs. Epic Fantasy Week with Entangled Teen’s Epic Fantasy Authors discussing why they love their genre.

entteen-urbanbattleepic300x300opt2

Erica Cameron – Island of Exiles (The Ryogan Chronicles, #1):

Why do I love epic fantasy? It’s a blank slate. We can erase all of our preconceived notions of society and law and even science, throwing all of that over the side of a cliff. Epic fantasy lets us push humanity well past the breaking point with ever more impossible landscapes and situations. It lets us see what we could be if only we let ourselves get there. Plus, epic fantasy is, well, epic!

Book Description:

9781633755963-1In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle. On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.

 

Buy Island of Exiles

Amber Mitchell – Garden of Thorns:

When I read and write, it’s because I want to escape and nothing gets you farther from your troubles than the distant shores of entirely new worlds. Epic fantasy invites you onto its tropical beaches, into its lush jungles and through its exotic cityscapes, shaking out its uncharted map for you to explore. Every page brims with fantastic characters questing, battling men and extraordinary beasts alike with magic flowing from nimble fingertips and daring sword fights. The allure of entirely new cultures, the epic stakes, swoon-worthy romances, and the flowing dresses of epic fantasy will always have my heart.

Book Description:

9781633758483After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll to take to her grave if she must.

Buy Garden of Thorns

L.E. Sterling – True North (True Born, #2):

Don’t get me wrong — #TeamUrban is great. I love time jumpers and magicians running around a book. They make you blink and question what you saw. But I prefer life in a funhouse mirror. Give me a goblin market. Give me a warrior queen with immortal blood. I want the snow queen’s glass shard to be embedded in my eye. I want to completely escape the bounds of reality — not be shackled by them. I don’t want to just question my perceptions — I want to know I’m not in Kansas any longer.

Book Description:

les_truenorth_final500Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.

Buy True North

Nicole Luiken – In Truth & Ashes (Otherselves, #3):

First for the endlessly inventive magic. Second for the fascinating new worlds to explore. Third for the fantastic creatures that dwell there: dragons, gargoyles, demi-gods and phoenixes are just a few of the ones I’ve used.

Epic fantasy gives a writer a bigger canvas to paint. Instead of a city, a country or even worlds. Wars. Heroes. Villains. Destinies. Everything is bigger is epic fantasy. The stakes are higher, instead of a single group, the fate of a world can hang in the balance.

Book Description:

9781633755451-1The Mirror Worlds are but dull reflections of the True World, where magic and technology blend together…

On the True World, Belinda Loring has known from childhood that she must Bond with the son of another noble First Family. Uniting the families ensures hers will hold onto its powerful position, and so she’s always pushed down the tender feelings she has for her best friend—gorgeous, steadfast Demian, who isn’t noble.

But when the ceremonial magic goes disastrously wrong, Belinda becomes a national disgrace. Scorned as Broken, she turns to Demian for help getting revenge on the man who ruined her: the radical Malachi.

But the seeds of Malachi’s murderous plans lie buried in Belinda’s past, in the dark days of her kidnapping—a period of which she has no memory. And Demian may hold the key to recovering all that she’s lost—and saving the worlds.

Buy In Truth & Ashes

Renee Collins – Relic:

Book Description:

9781622660155-1After a raging fire consumes her town and kills her parents, Maggie Davis is on her own to protect her younger sister and survive best she can in the Colorado town of Burning Mesa. In Maggie’s world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined and traded for their residual magical elements, and harnessing these relics’ powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries.

Working in a local saloon, Maggie befriends the spirited showgirl Adelaide and falls for the roguish cowboy Landon. But when she proves to have a particular skill at harnessing the relics’ powers, Maggie is whisked away to the glamorous hacienda of Álvar Castilla, the wealthy young relic baron who runs Burning Mesa. Though his intentions aren’t always clear, Álvar trains Maggie in the world of relic magic. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it’s too late.

Relic is a thrilling adventure set in a wholly unique world, and a spell-binding story of love, trust, and the power of good.

Buy Relic

Rebekah L. Purdy – The Summer Marked (The Winter People, #2):

Epic Fantasy is an escape from the “real world” and takes you to other lands, places you can only dream of, which is why I love it so much.  And there’s so much more opportunity to really explore new creatures and characters within these worlds. I mean, who doesn’t like the idea of stepping through a closet and finding a cool fantasy world? LOL.

I’m also a big fan of the epic battles (think Lord of the Rings or Throne of Glass). Girl with a sword=Awesome.

Book Description:

9781633750098Fresh off a break-up with her boyfriend, Kadie’s glad to be home from college for Thanksgiving. All she needs is a rebound guy, a box of chocolates, and some girl time with her best friend, Salome. Problem is, Salome isn’t returning her calls, and her family won’t say where she is. Feeling sorry for herself, Kadie ends up at Club Blade, a place filled with pumping music, dangerous guys, and promises of a good time. However, when midnight strikes, Kadie’s fun turns into a nightmare as she’s ripped from the human world into Faerie by a vengeful Winter Prince named Etienne. For the first time in her life, she realizes the monsters Salome always spoke of are real, and they’ll stop at nothing to destroy her friend.

Salome thought the winter curse was behind her. But winter has left its mark. Not just on her, but on the whole summer court. The Kingdom of Summer is falling apart, and Nevin is hanging onto his throne by a thread. With war on his doorstep, he has no choice but to send Gareth into enemy territory, which means Salome will be left alone—vulnerable in a world she doesn’t understand. A place where beauty is deadly and humans are pawns in the macabre games the Fae play. Both Kadie and Salome will have to call on all their strength to survive in a world where humans aren’t meant to be. With death and enemies all around them, it’ll be a miracle if they can survive.

Buy The Summer Marked

Chloe Jacobs – Greta and the Goblin King (Mylena Chronicles, #1):

Book Description:

9781620610039While trying to save her brother from a witch’s fire four years ago, Greta was thrown in herself, falling through a portal to Mylena, a dangerous world where humans are the enemy and every ogre, ghoul, and goblin has a dark side that comes out with the eclipse.

To survive, Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young goblin king, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her will to escape.

But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. An ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal, and with the next eclipse mere days away, every bloodthirsty creature in the realm is after her—including Isaac. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back…

Buy Greta and the Goblin King


That’s all for today! Come visit tomorrow when I talk about my own personal choice and share a little bit of why I favor it.