An interview with YA Author Hope Bolinger

Hope Bolinger Headshot

Hope Bolinger is younger than my children and makes me jealous to see all she’s accomplished in her young life. Now that I’ve confessed it, LOL, on with the interview. Welcome Hope, it’s so fun to have young blood on my blog. It reminds readers we can follow our writing dreams at any age. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

I started writing novels in high school. I buried myself in books and wrote just about everything I could.

Fourteen novels later, I found myself at Taylor University’s professional writing program, which offered a student scholarship to attend the Maranatha Christian Writer’s Conference. Having just completed Blaze (a modern-day Daniel) over the summer, I decided to pitch it to every editor I could fit a one on one for. Eddie, the editor at LPC, gave me some edits to fix the three-chapter sample but encouraged me to send it to the YA imprint of LPC.

It made it past Pub Board, but had a number of edits needed after they reviewed the full. After I went back and forth several times with the managing editor, it was polished and ready to go.

I remember getting the acceptance email in the college parking lot after my friends and I had seen a rather solemn viewing of Avengers: Infinity War. It was going to be published.

Tell us about Blaze

Blaze is being released in June. It essentially is the first three chapters of Daniel plopped into an American high school. It follows the story of Danny as he, and three of his closest friends, are transferred to their rival after his school mysteriously burns down.

Great story idea. How did you research to create your story?

This one was unique because it involved a lot of research into the time of the Babylonians, commentaries on Daniel, and just about everything in the 500-400 BC range. For this one, I spent a lot of time buried in books in the Old Testament to make sure I included as much symbolism and historical references as possible. Also, having written this from a male’s perspective, I made sure to have some male friends look over the manuscript to make sure Danny walked, talked, and sounded like a high school sophomore.

Yeah, guys gotta sound like guys. Why a retelling of the Book of Daniel?

I was sitting in an Old Testament class in which we blazed (buh dum tssh) through the Old Testament in a semester. On the day we covered the book of Daniel, my professor said something along the lines of, “Daniel and his friends would’ve been about 14 to 16 years old when the Babylonians took them into captivity.”

I sort of jolted in my seat, thinking, “Wait. Fifteen years old?”

Here are these four brave men who stood up to Kings, and they were just teens. Not to mention they were extremely involved in Babylonian culture and had to be adept at just about everything.

Then I thought, “What would that look like today? To get involved in a completely different culture but still stand up for what you believe in . . . as a teen?” Blaze was born.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

It’s hard to pinpoint a certain time when I didn’t write. I have copies of three-page stories I made in first grade buried somewhere in my room. But I didn’t actually take it on as a full-time calling until my AP Lit teacher in high school, in a passing remark, noted I wrote well. Granted, she gave me a B on that paper, but it stuck with me. In that moment, I thought, “Wow. I could actually do this.”

Taylor’s professional writing program helped solidify that. We had articles published our first semester (I got a little too into it and had 300 published by the time I graduated), and we walked through just about every aspect of the publishing industry. I’m forever indebted to the instructors there.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

It used to be Colossians 3:17. I loved the idea to do everything for Christ.

But lately the whole chapter of Psalm 103 has helped. Like Danny, I struggle with anxiety, but those verses have helped keep me calm and at peace, especially during some very dark spiritual episodes this past semester.

I usually ask this question to much older authors. 😊 But I’m curious  about your answer. If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Learn to accept criticism. It took me a while to realize that writing takes a lot of work. I think I had this idea that I would just write a book, throw it through spell check, and viola! Off to the publisher it went!

. . . not quite. It takes an insane amount of time and dedication, and more often than not, the editor is always right.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

I always throw it back to my best friend James. I’ve known him for four years, and every time I want to quit, he refuses to let me. He reads just about everything I send him and is my biggest cheerleader.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Of course, YA. I think YA writers have way too much fun. I also love diving into the Classics. I love to know why a book stood the test of time.

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Here’s the back cover copy of Blaze

If you can’t stand the heat, don’t walk into the fire.

Danny knew his sophomore year would be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.

To make matters worse (and they were about to get a lot worse), he — and his three best friends — receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the town’s prestigious boarding school. Danny wants nothing to do with King’s Academy and says no. Of course his mother says yes. So off he goes to be bullied and picked on for not being part of the popular and rich “in crowd.”

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters hazing, mocking insults from girls at the “popular and pretty” table, and cafeteria food that, for such a prestigious school, tastes as if it were purchased from a military surplus supply warehouse. If he survives, Danny will have to overcome his fears of failure, rejection, and loneliness–all while standing strong in his beliefs and walking into the fire.

 

Intriguing . I want it read. 

Who is Hope Bolinger?

Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. She is excited for her modern-day Daniel “Blaze” to come out with IlluminateYA (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). She enjoys all things theater, cats, and fire.

 

Contact Info:

Facebook: @therosewoman

Twitter: @hopebolinger

Instagram: @hopebolinger

Website: hopebolinger.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Bolinger/e/B00V0VWFKQ?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_fkmrnull_1&qid=1550020518&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13700140.Hope_Bolinger

 

Tips for Publishing in the 21st Century Part 2

Today we are picking up where Author/Speaker/Editor Linda Yezak left off sharing about the publishing biz.  She’s busy on a blog tour and agreed to stop by twice to share her wealth of information. Here is the link to part one. The third and final book in her Circle Bar Ranch series Ride to the Altar is now available.  And there is another chance to enter to win her prize package. How cool is that.

Okay, Linda, continue to share with us how to reach our publishing goals.

To be published: This is the easiest possible thing to do. These days, there are hundreds of different ways, from networking with those who already know how and can help, to doing it entirely yourself, to hiring a press. There’s also the option of going with a small, upstart publisher that doesn’t require agent submissions. Here are a few caveats:

Linda Yezak

  • Be aware that self publishing brings with it a stigma we’re still fighting. Granted, now that many of the more successful and established authors are diving in to the hybrid (both traditional and indie) pool, the stigma is easing, but it’s still there. Two ways to fight the stigma: be professional (quality material, quality edits, quality book cover, quality formatting) and give yourself a name as a publisher. When you publish through Amazon, if you don’t have a publisher name, they will provide one—sure sign of self-publishing.
  • If you’re going through a service, research it. All of the services offer everything necessary to get your book on the market. Research everything from how much they charge to where they distribute. Some services suck you in, then continually demand funds. Be careful of what you’re getting yourself into. Check out their book covers. Look up their books on Amazon—use the “Look Inside” feature to see their format. Check other websites to see if their books are offered where they say they are.
  • If you think you’re going through a traditional publisher, and they ask for money for any reason, they are not traditional. Traditional publishers are royalty-paying. They may not all pay an advance, but they do all pay you a percentage from the sales. Read your contract.
  • If you’re going through a small publisher, understand that they’re probably just starting out. If they’re good, they’ll grow over time. But chances are, they’ll go bust. Make sure you retain your rights if they do. Small pubbers don’t have a lot of capital to invest in the books they release. The covers and format may or may not be subpar. Many of these publishers take on “apprentice” editors—unpaid beginners who need the experience. Best for you to go through a proven freelancer before trusting your work to these. Some are really good, but you never know.

 

To develop a lifelong career as a writer: I’ll dub this the be patient route. The process is slow, frustrating, and ultimately rewarding. All of the work that’s required in the other goals are required here also:

  • Build a platform (get out there in cyberspace and get known, the sooner, the better).
  • Join a professional organization and network with others from editors and agents. to website designers and marketers to other authors. Keep their business cards.
  • Study the craft (and write, write, write).
  • Have your work critiqued and edited.
  • Study the agents and publishers to see where you’d fit best.
  • This is hard, and it takes forever. Make use of the time by writing more.
  • If you’re not one of the few who gets an agent and gets published by a big name the first time around, self-publish. Learn how to do it. Learn how to promote yourself. Learn how to manage your books.
  • Repeat the process with your next project, and keep repeating until you have what you want. You’re not a one-and-done author, you’re wanting to make a career out of this. Keep at it.

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Before being indie became such a hit, I read about one author who went with small publishers for sixteen years before he hit it big. Now he’s huge.

For myself, in 2011, I went with a small, traditional publisher who ultimately cut my genre from her line. From there, I took the book the indie route and had the second novel published by another small (now mid-sized) press. I’ve been indie ever since, and only recently have I looked back toward going traditional again. My next work will release in November in a collection published by Firefly, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (a midsized publisher). Meanwhile, I have three novels and one novella published independently and one novella published in a collection with some friends.

My goal is to have the validation of a big-name publisher someday, but I’m not sitting on my thumbs until it happens. Once I finish my next novel, I’m hitting the trail again in search of an agent. We’ll see what happens.

You’ve given us some great tips to consider. Now share about your giveaway.

I’m offering a giveaway package during the blog tour. When the two-week tour is over, all those who commented throughout the tour will be eligible for the drawing for the prize. It includes a signed print version of the series, a 16-ounce Christian cowboy mug, a horseshoe picture frame, a Ph. 4:13 stretch bracelet, a cute set of magnetic page markers, and a Texas Rubiks cube. I’d like for each blog post to carry a link to the next post in the tour, so readers will have multiple opportunities to enter.  If you go to the next blog stop tomorrow you’ll get additional chance to win. Lynn Mosher https://lynnmosher.com/    

More about Linda:

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and their funky feline, PB, in a forest in deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She has a deep and abiding love for her Lord, her family, and salted caramel. And coffee—with a caramel creamer. Author of award-winning books and short stories, she didn’t begin writing professionally until she turned fifty. Taking on a new career every half century is a good thing.

 

Website: http://lindawyezak.com

Newsletter: http://dld.bz/CoffeewithLinda

Facebook: Author Page

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lyezak/

Twitter: @LindaYezak

Amazon Page: http://dld.bz/LWYAmazonPage

Goodreads: Linda W Yezak

 

 

Don’t forget you must comment in this post below. No comments on social media where I’ll be sharing this post will count. Take a look at the great prizes package. You had a total for four chances. This post, Tuesdays post and the two other posts mentioned today and Tuesday. And if you become a groupie on her blog tour you have more chances to get your name in the cowboy hat to in.

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If you enjoy reading Jubilee Writer why not subscribe and get it in your email every time a new post is available. Please and Thank you.

The Suspense Writer: Smart and Witty or a Tad Crazy?

After I read Fear is Louder than Words I knew I had to invite Linda S. Glaz to Jubilee Writer. Her suspense novel kept me so engaged. The stalker remained a mystery until the last few chapters. I asked her why she loves to write suspense.

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Do you have to be sassy and smart, or a bit crazy to write really good suspense?

The jury’s still out on me!

I’m the person who loves to watch/read about really bad characters that you love to hate. I know, that says something very strange about me, but I write suspense! So is that all right?

I have always enjoyed the journey of digging into a really bad character, wondering and, hopefully, making the reader wonder just what makes the crazy tick. For me, that’s an adventure. I love leaving tiny hints and trails for the reader to discover. I’m enthralled with digs into the character’s psyche. I’m one of those who wormed into Hannibal Lecter’s head to find out WHY? Why, oh, why would anyone be so disturbed?

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Can you see the smile on my face right now? Thank goodness…

You see, it’s like the roller coaster. It scares the dickens out of you and then brings you safely home. A good suspense novel will do the same. It will scare you until you’re listening to every creak and groan in the house, but once finished, you’ll be safe at home again.

I love it!

Let me give you hint at a really disturbed character from my Dec. 2017 release, Blow Out the Candles and Say Good-Bye:

 

Rural Wisconsin, 1983

The little demons’ cries roused the snake that gnawed at Laura’s gut. They’d better shut up soon or she’d lose the phony smile and shut them up Laura style.

She swallowed hard to push the snake down … down … down. Back where it belonged. Laura grasped the steering wheel with tight-knuckled hands and stared into her rearview mirror. Her eye twitched, but she jerked a finger up and stopped the rhythmic pulsing.

Six girls, all aged five save the youngest at four, clung to one another in the backseat. Grasping little monkeys with fearful wide eyes and noses dripping snot all over their clothes.

She jammed a fist against her temple.

The sixth girl, Cassandra, no, Amanda, glared at Laura. Her sharp stare and crossed arms dared the snake to unwind and strike, but only Laura allowed that. Not some stupid little monster who didn’t know her place.

Laura cleared her throat and shifted her gaze to the miles of hypnotizing asphalt ahead. No brat was going to sidetrack her.

 

I like to believe that each human born has the capacity for good…or evil. I’ve seen it and wondered just what makes a person choose the other path…the dark side as it were. For most of us we all fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Hopefully doing our best to be good, to be caring and compassionate. But what creates in a man or woman the inability to see past their own desires? THAT is what intrigues me, and that is what makes for good suspense…I hope. Since my next novel depends on it.

You need good characters who find themselves trapped. You can add that delicious taste of romance or not. Up to you. But you need to have them tormented and on track to discover the bad guys before their own lives are in jeopardy. If it’s romantic suspense, it works best if the two of them are on the path together.

I, personally, like to use multiple points of view in my suspense. I believe it lends itself to building the sense of fear. But that’s just me. You might like the more traditional POV.

Let me leave you doubting my sanity with one more snippet of our antagonist twelve years later:

…She cackled then slapped a hand over her mouth as their boring, pleading prayers filled the room.

“Please God, bring Mommy and Daddy back.”

“Why doethn’t Mommy want me anymore?”

“Di’Mommy really die, God? Why’d you let her die?”

Enough. But with melodramatic compassion, she forced a teardrop to the edge of her eye. “Poor, precious darlings. Tomorrow morning we’ll go through Minneapolis on our way out. We’ll be shopping for new toys and clothes. You can pick them out yourselves. Won’t that be fun? But first, you all have to snuggle in for the night. Warm and comfy like little bugs in a rug.” She forced her lips to curl up at the edges like a beauty queen, as if cameras captured her every move. Just like college where she’d performed each ingénue role to perfection.

She twisted back, her lips pulling tight. What was that smell? Had one of them peed her pajamas? Sick. If the brat did it again, she’d slap her into a diaper. Being upset didn’t give anyone permission to pee themselves.

Mother had taught her that.

There are rules! And rules must be obeyed!

 

You’ll have to excuse me now, it’s time for my medication. Hehehehe…

 

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Linda, you are such a hoot. I love the snippets of your new book. Just creepy enough to grab my interest.  I’ve decided to invite you back Thursday to share how you build your suspense world. So, this week anyone who comments on this post or Thursday’s post will be put in a drawing for Fear is Louder Than Words.

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click here to  order.

More about Linda S. Glaz

Linda is an author and agent with Hartline Literary Agency.

She’s married with three children and three grandchildren.

Having served in the Air Force at a time when it wasn’t exactly politically correct for a woman, she blazed many firsts for women in the military. She has taught karate and self-defense for thirty years and was a National instructor and referee for the largest soccer youth group in the US for twenty-five years. She isn’t afraid to try something new.

Before joining Hartline, Linda was a reviewer for online romance sites, a final proofreader for a publisher, and organized and ran two separate writers’ groups. She worked for two years as an editorial assistant to Terry Burns at Hartline.

Linda has two novellas, six short novels, one romantic suspense published, and one to release in 2017. Five more are burning a hole in her hopeful pocket.

She’s a member of ACFW, AWSA, and numerous other writers’ groups. She presents nationally each year at conferences, teas, churches, workshops, and various other venues. She’s also active on social media.

Linda loves to laugh and make other people laugh. There is definitely healing and joy in laughter.

She’s forever on the lookout for ideas that will turn into a suspenseful novel, and as an agent, is always looking for that next great blockbuster novel.

Don’t forget, comment for a chance to win a copy of Fear is Louder Than Words. And if you want to continue to follow Jubilee Writer click the button in the upper left.