A Visit With YA Author Tamar Sloan

This is a longer than normal post for me. But it’s well-worth the time to read. Today is the release date for Australian author Tamar Sloan’s YA novel Make it Count. YA readers are going to want to add this novel to their must-read list.

Welcome to Jubilee Writer, Tamar. Congratulations on your new release.  Let me introduce you to my readers before we get started on my questions.

A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy and Touched by Love Series. Tamar is also the author of PsychWriter: where psychology meets writing, a blog that supports and extends writers.

When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush.

Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related.

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Tamar, you’re the first Australian author to appear on my blog. And you share my heart for helping other writers. I don’t write YA but I enjoy reading it. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

Interestingly, I never considered I’d be a writer. As a child I loved to read (I devoured romance novels from the moment I discovered them), but it NEVER occurred to me that I could write one myself. My first book came to me in a dream (so cliché, right?). But it was an idea that wouldn’t go away, which meant I had to go learn how to write… Several months later, with a healthy dose of muttered curse words, my first book of the Prime Prophecy series, was born.

I get the dream revelation. I think a lot of writers can relate. Now, tell us about your latest published project Make it Count.

Make it Count is a young adult contemporary romance, admittedly fueled by a touch of the impossible. It tells the story of impulsive, fun-loving Casey and the ability she was born with – if she touches another person she sees the number of days they have left to live. Casey fakes a phobia to avoid touch, and she convinces herself she’s happy in her isolated, safe little bubble. Until irresistible, motorcycle riding PJ comes along. The chemistry is hot, the sparks fly. And Casey is about to learn how to live a life that counts.

I love the premise. What kind of research was involved in making this story come to life?

Google and I became besties. I had to learn some motocross lingo, explore the theme of ‘you only live once’ and nail the most appropriate group therapy strategies for Make it Count. Google allowed me to do most of that. Apart from that, being a psychologist really helps. I work with young adults every day and get to walk alongside their struggles and triumphs. Those moments weave their way into my books all the time.

A writing what you know experience as a psychologist but so much more. Wonderful. What other inspiration came to you as you formulated this story in your mind.

Make it Count is one of those books that comes to you at 4am and you just know it’s going to be a special story. It started with the seed – what if with one touch, a girl could see how many days a person has to live? Apart from all the heart-wrenching considerations like touching your loved ones, I knew she’s avoid touch at whatever cost. But then PJ arrived, and he was hot, and irresistible. I had to capture their chemistry, and their story.

Now, let’s talk a little about you.

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

This question has made me pause the most. I’m not sure I ever considered my decision to write as a calling. But I suppose the moment you commit the amount of time writers do to their passion it would have to be considered a calling. I think my realization evolved slowly. It was only once I’d published my first book and readers wrote to me of how the story had touched them that I realized I had a talent that was worth sharing with the world.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

I have a framed timbre board in my writing room with Gandhi’s famous quote – ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ My dad made it for me, and I aspire to that sentiment every day.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Be prepared for a fabulous roller coaster ride. There will be lows, there will be twists you thought you knew were coming but you really didn’t, and there will be exhilarating highs. How do you prepare for something like that? In some ways you can’t, in other ways you pack your fortitude and resilience, and open yourself up to the joy of the ride.

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Here’s the back-cover copy. Oh so compelling

He’s irresistible…but she’s the one person who knows his days are numbered.

Casey’s touch can reveal the one thing a person would never want to know — the number of days they have left to live.

By the time Casey turns seventeen she’s learnt to withdraw. But the phobia she fakes in order to avoid human contact is sorely tested by hot, persistent, motorcycle riding PJ. For a girl who craves contact, maple eyed PJ is impossible to resist. When the inevitable happens, when hands, bodies and lips collide, Casey sees PJ’s number, one that can only be seen as a cruel twist of fate.

Now she must decide. Will she continue counting the days of her life, or start living a life that counts?

With the memorable writing and humor of writers such as Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun blended with the attitude, chemistry and unexpected plot twists of Katie McGarry’s best sellers, Make it Count is a romance that will leave you swooning and smiling.

Make it Count (ISBN: 978-1-62135-708-7, Clean Reads Publishing) is now available at www.tamarsloan.com and on Amazon,  Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

Because this is the release date for Make it Count let’s share an excerpt for my readers to enjoy.

A few steps down the path I slip the brownie from my sleeve. There’s no way I can wait to get out of the front yard before I taste this square of temptation. I should be sainted right alongside Ari’s grandson for not wolfing down the whole platter.

There’s a mega-sized tree in the front yard, so I head around it, lean back against its bark watching the brownie’s slow approach to my mouth, savouring the moment. I smell the chocolate, the sugar, the awesomeness. I bite down and my eyes flutter closed. Oh. My. Heaven-loving-tastebuds. Galaxies of spun sugar dissolve in my mouth, symphonies drowned out by the roaring in my ears. My body mirrors what’s happening in my mouth; I’m slowly, deliciously melting into a gooey, thick puddle.

The roaring stops.

“If you like my cooking, you’d love how I make breakfast.”

Everything stops. Every cell goes from puddly and quivery to upright and alert. I know that chocolately voice. I’ll never forget that warm, rich timbre.

I open one eye, then two.

PJ is sitting on his motorbike, helmet on his lap, that grin glinting in the sun. He hangs the helmet on a handlebar, swings a long denim leg over and swaggers towards me. And I mean a hip swaying, shoulder swinging swagger that evokes images of yellow-striped, denim-clad butts.

The moment he’s close enough for me to focus on his eyes the brownie turns to bread in my mouth. It could never compete with the symphonies and stars in those molten maple pools.

“They’re a family recipe.”

My brain clicks out of brownie-PJ heaven and into gear. Hang on a sec. I look over my shoulder at the door, the door that was just closed by a woman the colour of brown sugar. I look back to the very white, hot guy in front of me.

“Family?”

The moment PJ stops I take a step back, out of arm’s length, and out of smell’s reach. His eyes narrow ever so slightly as he notes my movement. He crosses his arm. “Yeah, family.”

I wait, but it seems someone else in this town took the course on stubborn silence. Instead he grins again. Man, I wish he’d stop doing that. Here, in the sun, it’s blinding. “I’m flattered.”

I raise a brow.

PJ shrugs, and somehow the movement seems to bring him a millimetre closer. Moving again would be rude and weirdo-whacky so I stay put, choosing to breathe through my mouth.

“It takes some effort to find out where a guy lives.”

My jaw slackens. Ego much?

“Hmmm.” I step to the side and head to his motorbike. “I’m glad you brought a second helmet.”

PJ turns and follows me, I step around the bike, using it as a barrier.

He places a hand on the leather seat. “You wanted to come for a ride?”

Eyes wide with mock shock connect with molten maple. “Don’t you need it for your ego?”

Instead of looking insulted, PJ grins. A wide, teeth-glinting, eye-wrinkling grin. “I think I might; it just got one heck of a hit.”

I cross my arms, glad I can do it safely this time thanks to my Personal Protective Equipment.

PJ brings one hand up to stroke his chin. “So you’re not here to see me.”

“Difficult to imagine, isn’t it?”

“What else would bring you here?”

Those delicious lips twitch. He knows exactly why I’m here. I’m not much of a blusher, but being here, for a therapy group for a phobia I don’t have, wearing the freaky lengths I have to go to avoid touch seems like a pretty good time to blush.

But I didn’t wear a balaclava, so instead, I own it. “I have ablutophobia.”

PJ’s eyes stray to my lips. “Well, it’s not a fear of brownies.”

I resist the urge to lick their suddenly dry surface. “Or the repeated use of pick-up lines.”

PJ chuckles, and it’s a sound that reminds me of crème brûlée, smooth and moreish. “Maybe it’s a phobia of stepping up to a challenge.”

That has me straightening. Everything in my impulsive but necessarily inhibited personality loves a challenge. PJ quirks a brow, and leans forward, placing both hands on the seat. The position pushes his shoulders forward, focuses my attention on those biceps. Mr. Sexy-Comes-Naturally is waiting for me to pick up the gauntlet.

Sensations and sights sharpen. Those molten maple pools watching me. The heat pressing against my body. Those Adonis lips parting on an inhale. The bead of sweat raking down my spine.

I lean forward, and my eyes widen the moment my next sense registers something. A scent, the kind of scent that has your head tilting reflexively, your mouth opening just a touch to see if it will land on your tongue.

I don’t know what amber smells like, but I think this could be it. Woodsy, spicy…tempting…moreish. It’s the kind of smell that makes you wish you could spend more time breathing in than out. One hand reaches out to the red plastic fender rising from the back of the bike. The moment woven cotton presses into my fingertips, rather than smooth plastic warmed by the sun, I stop. It’s all I need to return me to reality.

I take a step back, having to mentally force my nose to follow. PJ was never meant get close enough to smell, because exactly what I thought would happen just happened.

He smells as good as he looks, and I don’t need any more temptation to fight.

I take another step back. “You’ve got the wrong girl, PJ.”

PJ exhales, possibly because of the pent-up tension, but probably out of frustration. “It seems we have one thing in common, Casey.”

With another step back I decide it’s safe to ask. “What’s that?”

PJ straightens, his eyes twinkling. “We both love a challenge.”

I start to walk backwards, shaking my head. “The difference is I can pick a lost cause.”

I turn and start creating even more distance between us. I walk away from hot, sexy, available maple, knowing this is what I need to do. Telling PJ, with everything I can, he’s wasting his time.

“See you at mini motos.”

I keep walking. The tenacity is admirable and flattering, but wasted. “I’m not going.” I call over my shoulder.

“Don’t forget to bring your little brother.”

I shake my head, glad PJ can see that and not my smile. Sure, I love to look, I like the flirting, and I’d love to be someone that could go there.

But PJ is the last person I plan on touching.

 

Alright readers now that you’re hooked here are some links.

Purchase links: https://books2read.com/MakeitCount

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Make-Count-Touched-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B07647LY9W/

Want to visit Tamar and get to know her better?

You can find her at www.tamarsloan.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com.au/tamarsloanwriter or Twitter www.twitter.com/sloantamar. Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36284190-make-it-count

 Thanks so much for stopping by today, Tamar. Hope your release date is everything you hoped it would be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Time Saver: Make A Proposal Template

Proposal cloudI’m done. I finished my proposal for the sequel to my Historical Romance Secrets & Charades. This is the fourth book I’ve written a proposal for, but probably the twentieth proposal I’ve completed.  Every publisher has specific things they want to see in a proposal. So, when I submitted S & C I had to rewrite my proposal a few different ways. Now that I have an agent, I need to write a longer proposal. He can then cut and paste the components for each publisher he pitches to on my behalf, meeting their requirements.

I saved a lot of time by creating a generic proposal template. Back in the day when we made paper submissions, compiling a proposal required more time to put the information in the correct sequential order. Now I can open my template and cut and paste my personal info and other unchanging portions, It still takes time and may require some reformatting. But that is minutes rather than hours.

The basic components of every proposal are the cover sheet, author bio, back cover copy, comparables, marketing strategy, endorsements, synopsis and writing sample.

First two sections are easy to adjust without recreating

The cover sheet has information the publisher needs. My contact information is in the upper left. It includes my address, phone, email, genre and word count. The lower right has all my agents contact information and the center is where the words Book Proposal, the title and my byline go. Some publishers want a tagline just under the byline. Others want it before the synopsis in the body of your proposal. The cover sheet has a particular format for spacing. Once I created one all I need to do is change a few things for the next book proposal. I don’t have to go back and double check what the format should be for each new proposal.

The table of content is the next page it lists all the components by page number. Some publishers don’t want a table of content. I adjust the page numbers accordingly with each new book. And if they want less information, I delete those items from the table of content.

The body of the proposal

Next you would have the tagline, synopsis and back cover copy. (These would be new with each new book but once you’ve written them they stay the same for every submission for that book.) Synopsis is a summary of your story. I’ll explain more later.

A tagline is a sentence that grabs the reader. For my contemporary romance New Duet coming out May 1st with Clean Reads (Shameless promotion. LOL) I wrote: “Love is never needing to be someone you’re not.” It took several tries to come up with one that grabbed the theme. The tagline often appears on your book’s cover.

Your biography comes next. Submission guidelines may have a word count for that. Now that I have a novel in print and another coming out I needed to tweak my bio. Additional awards or speaking platforms might need to be added in the future. Keep your bio current. The one in the proposal may be different from what goes on your book cover or any other published work.

Next comes writing credentials. Post your most recent at the top and descend to older things. List any awards, degrees and writing classes completed. Be sure to mention organization memberships. This is especially important if you are an unpublished writer. By organizations I mean writer groups or something that relates to the topic of your novel or non-fiction book. Being part of a writing organization shows you are serious about the craft. And if you are, for example, a lawyer proposing a legal thriller that information would be important.

The next portion is endorsements. You may already have individuals and authors willing to endorse your book. These endorsers need to have credentials. Your mother or friend (unless they are an author or an expert in their field relating to your novel) are not the endorsers you want. You can list all those who are willing to endorse or you are willing to ask for an endorse. Because I know a lot of authors I listed all of them as potential endorsers in my first two novel proposals. It was a long list. This showed the editor that I had people willing to support me I got seven endorsements for my first book. I didn’t actually ask everyone on my list because some authors don’t write in my genre. A recommendation from a Sci-fi author for a historical romance isn’t that impressive. Those who endorse you often promote you on their social media. So be sure the people you ask fit the genre you write. Endorsers don’t have to be fiction writers. A friend is writing a novel that addresses human trafficking; she plans on getting endorsements from organization that rescues these people. Once you have your list of endorsers, you can pick those that relate to the novel you’re proposing and don’t have to recreate the list every time. If you have a written endorsement from someone who read your draft, add it here. This shows you’re a go-getter. List all the social media you actively use.

Marketing Strategy is a tough one whether you are published or not. My first proposal listed things I was willing to do. Be honest in what you know others have done that you feel comfortable doing. Authors must help market. Even traditionally published authors market. Now I merely tweak my list adding what worked for me and deleting things that didn’t.

Parts that are new

Your target market may change if you change genres. This is the readers you are focusing on. Do not say everyone. Those words show you have not done your research. Be more specific. Teens are not the target market for my historical romance. Teen girls might read it because their mom bought the book. And some men read romance. Statistically women over 30 read historical romance. While millennials often read fantasy, dystopic and sci-fi. Know your market. Don’t assume because family and friends of all ages read your draft and loved it that this is your market.  You are not a marketing expert. Trust the experts.

The back-cover copy, and synopsis will be fresh copy. The back copy is a short couple of paragraphs describing the story. A marketing tool to get the readers’ interest. Don’t explain it all. Leave the reader hungry.

The synopsis is retelling the entire story with all the twists in 6 pages or less. Focus on the main character’s story. The editor must know the surprise bits and who-done it.

Some publishers want character descriptions. The two main characters are usually enough. But if you have created a fantasy world, then introducing each character is expected. Some authors include drawings of characters and maps of their world.

Unless a full manuscript is requested, you send the first three chapters and only the first three chapters. Make those first three chapters your very best work. Even if your think chapter five is the most exciting, send the first three. Only non-fiction submissions allow you to send chapters out of order. A few publishers may not require a writing sample if they know your work. Again, follow guidelines.

Proposals can be as short as ten pages or up to 50. (excluding full manuscript). Each of the basics I mentioned previously can be broken down into sub categories. Be sure to read the submission guidelines.

The proposal is how you sell your story idea. For me it is a painful process. I’d rather be crafting a story. Having a template of the basic information saves me time and reduces the pain to the synopsis and back cover copy. So, take extra time to make each section shine. If your proposal doesn’t grab the editors they will relegate your submission to the circular file.

What tips do you have for making proposal creation less painful?

Don’t forget if you enjoy my blog please subscribe.

 

 

Watch Your Tone or Writers on Social Media

broken computerRecently, I told a fellow-writer after reading his Facebook posts, “So, is your goal to sell books?” Every post he hoped would create discussion turned toward an undesirable direction. He is learning what all authors struggle with on social media. What can they post that gets many responses without setting off hate bombs?

My husband, who is a writer, loves a good debate on FB. He enjoys discussing history and current events.  Lately, however his “friends” have reverted to name calling because he stood on the opposite side of an issue. The last draw was when a gentleman with a PHD in History refused to read a book my hubby suggested that explained a statement he’d made regarding American History. (I’m being vague to protect all parties.) Based on my husband’s post the “friend” stated my hubby wasn’t smart enough to teach him anything, referring to my college graduate hubby as dumb. (And no, my sweetie, did not defend himself.) Instead, with a heavy heart, he stopped posting. He plans to remove hate speech posts in the future.angry-woman

 

Another relatively innocent post ended with the “friend” getting on her discrimination soap box and insulting my husband unjustly. My daughter got offended with the way this individual demeaned her father. She made some strong points only to receive the same wretched hate speech in return. Broke my husband’s heart to see his daughter so upset and placing herself in the line of fire for her dad’s sake.

My point

Be careful what you post on social media. If you write non-fiction and a little controversy related to your book subject may up your readership, be careful. If you write fiction, I’d tread very lightly. This past presidential election found a few fiction authors being told by readers they’d never read another of their books. I heard of one reader who threw all the author’s books away because their political views were different.

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Why I avoid posting hot topics like the plague

Not only do I not want to lose readers, I find people pick up unintended tone. This same daughter reacted to a text message I sent her because she thought I was mad. I’d asked a question—no tone—just a question. I had to reassure her I wasn’t mad. I’ve read hastily written emails at work that captured an unintended attitude.

When I write my novels, I want my readers to sense a tone. The characters mood needs to be clear on the page. Readers need to experience the heroine’s angst toward a situation or the hero. It makes for great fiction.  However, that doesn’t always translate well in the world of social media. I don’t take hours and days to write and rewrite my blogs before I post.

Watch your words

An innocent statement about something on the news can explode into hundreds of angry posts from people who aren’t even friends on your page.  Because a friend of a friend saw the post and made a comment. This has happened to my husband a few times. He’d posted a comment on something in current events and after a few scathing commenters, he left the conversation. Two days later the debate continued on his page between his friends on opposite sides of the political arena and many people he wasn’t friends with on Facebook. He removed the post because the thread of words increased in tone and went to a dark place.

 Yes, I express my opinions

I have opinions on many things outside the writing world. Things I prefer to discuss or debate in person. Face to face, I can see their expressions and ask questions for clarification. I have lovely friends who disagree with me on various issues, not to mention family members. That’s fine. We share our thoughts on a given subject without resorting to vile name calling. I find I gain a deeper understanding of their position. Interesting food for thought.

But on social media the darts fly. They not only wound the heart but can destroy your book sales. How many celebrities, politician and even teachers have post inflammatory things online in the heat of the moment that ended their careers.

I’ve made a few errors in judgement in my wording on posts and had to eat crow. Not something I ever want to do again. To avoid the backlash, I don’t respond to posts that irritate me.  The more I respond to a friend’s posts the more posts I receive from that friend. Which is how the Facebook algorithm works. Negative attitudes and hurtful words don’t look very professional or welcoming to people checking out my page.  I want people to find my posts interesting and encouraging.

My goals for social media

  • Keep in touch with the people I care about: family. former classmates, friends far away, other writers.
  • Engage my readers with posts that are fun, informative and welcoming.
  • Pass on useful links.
  • Oh, and sell books. 😊

How do you engage with your followers on social media in a positive way? What subjects have your learned to avoid?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Time to Lay Aside My Pen

This Sunday, my daughter Pam is marrying her soulmate, Jon. All the final pieces of the planning are falling into place.  This is a time when I will lay aside all my writing responsibilities and enjoy the weekend.white-2072295_640

I am always encouraging readers of this blog to write every day. To quote Ecclesiastes “There is a time for everything under the sun.” A time to write and a time to lay aside your pen. Every writer needs a vacation from penning words to enjoy their surroundings. Whether it’s a wedding or a walk on the beach or around the block. Enjoy the moments. Your writer brain will be cataloguing each activity. The joy, the smells, sights and sounds will come flooding back insisting on a place in your WIP.

I’ll share the joy of my daughter’s wedding then relax a day from all the hubbub. I’ll be refresh and ready to create words on my keyboard once again.

Please share the activities you love that have interrupt your writing time and how they inspire your words later.

 

Spiral Learning Applies To Writers

A comment on a post I’d left on a writer’s group Facebook page gave me pause. It was something I re-blogged because the writer’s honesty encouraged me. I love sharing writing tips, mine and others. The commenter remarked, “every writer knows this stuff, and this post was a waste.”  I shook my head and decided to explain on my blog why “I beg to differ.”spiral

Spiral Learning

Educators explain people learn in a spiral. Simply put, reviewing the basics before adding a new concept helps a student retain and expand on the information. Therefore, material is repeated at every grade level year after year. The basics of math and reading are reviewed in early elementary school. It takes a few years to master the foundation. Every grade level through high school spend the first portion of the year reviewing the materials last presented in the previous year. Most students don’t remember enough from past lessons in earlier years to build on a new concept. We remember it while we are using it.  (Think high school French class.) Then we forget some or all of what we learned. We continue to relearn, remember, forget, relearn until we own the skill and don’t forget.

Spiral Refreshing

The same applies to writing. I attended a writing retreat years ago. One subject was correct grammar. Later someone bemoaned the waste of time. After all, writers know this stuff. For me, there were things I’d forgotten. And punctuation issues, I needed clarity on.

Reviewing what you know

Familiar topics on writers’ conference brochures could be the deciding factor to skip the event when we’ve attended those same classes before.

I’ve discovered I’m always learning things I missed the first time. The review refreshes my knowledge. Applying what I learn may take a few times of hearing it to get it right.

If we’re honest, we can list at least one new thing we learned and determined to apply, but didn’t. It can take several more classes, blog posts or articles, before we followed through.

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Learning to avoid bad advice

How many times have you seen those ads that promise big bucks, even if you don’t know how to write? Everyone knows not to pursue it. But writers do. A desire to write full-time and quit a day job can drive an aspiring writer to waste time on content mills. How many will raise their hand along with me and say… “I did.” After I was so foolish, I read many articles debunking my choice, and I own that concept now.

Blog information

My email fills with several blog subscriptions weekly. I’m amazed when the familiar comes along right when I need it. Recently, a post reminded me of the ten most common novel writing errors. It reset my mind and put me in tune with those things as I edit my latest WIP. I knew the tips well, but knowing and doing can sometimes trip over each other.

Relearn from each other

Although I am a traditionally published author, I subscribe to indie authors blogs. Both traditional and Indie can teach me things. One example: why multiple levels of editing are important. As a traditional author, I get those edits from my publisher. But indies need to hire the editors or do it themselves. I’m more mindful of what to expect from the publishers I work with.  Another example: marketing. Most authors struggle to remember what and how to do it correctly and consistently. It helps me to decide what types of marketing beyond what my publisher offers I might want to explore.

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Final Word

My tip when we are tempted to say, “we all know this stuff.” Don’t.  Someone may not be familiar at all. I’m amazed how the old adage, “You don’t know what you don’t know” applies to me. I’ve seen best-selling authors taking copious notes in classes on subjects I assumed they were an expert. Often, they remark. “I’ve learned something new.”

What new or review information were you grateful to have received in your Inbox or social media? Were you at the learn or forget stage when you read it?

Comment below I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And don’t forget to subscribe before you leave this page to follow Jubilee Writer.

 

 

Interview with Dystopian Co-Authors Glenn Turner & Angel Torres

Today is a first for me. I welcome Glenn Turner and Angel Torres to Jubilee Writer. They co-authored The Coming Future, a YA Fantasy. I’ve never had co-authors on my blog so I’m curious about your journey.

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Glenn: I grew up being a reader of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.  I come from a fairly artsy family, and did a wide range of artistic activities, playing Keyboard, Guitar, Saxophone, French Horn, and Clarinet (maybe a few others that I forget now), as well as a bit of drawing and painting. When I was sixteen, I became a Christian, and I noticed in my Christian community that many folks did not approve of my love of fantasy.  So, with plenty of other things to focus on, my affection for that genre grew cold over the years.

Fast forward to my thirties where I had some free time at one of my jobs, and I just felt inspired to write a bit.  So I did.  And as I did, some of the old stories I read as a kid came to mind.  I began looking into fantasy again, and I made a discovery:  the entire Fantasy genre was started by two Christians: J.R.R. Tolkein, and C.S. Lewis, the latter of which was a prominent theologian.  I realized that some Christians that I had been around had wholesale rejected a literary genre that was created by two solid believers.

As I began writing some stories, I encountered Angel Torres at work.  Angel shared some of his work with me, and then asked if I would like to collaborate on a project with him.  So, began The Coming Future. Honestly, I didn’t take it serious at first.  But as we worked on the project together, I got to be like, “Man, this isn’t too bad. It might go somewhere.”

We finished our first draft in 2015, and got about the business of finding an Agent or a Publisher, culminating in Clean Reads accepting our work in January, 2017, and we were published on 6.20.17.

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Angel: I wasn’t much of a reader in my younger days; I was more into sports, friends, and video games. But everything changed in summer of 1998, when I put my hands on a video game that forever changed my life, Final Fantasy VII. My world was opened wide. I’ve always imagined himself being a professional basketball player, but now, my imagination was inspired by role-playing stories from movies and games. I filled up notebook after notebook with stories, but after moving from Puerto Rico to the United States, my creative vision shifted to writing song lyrics and pursuing the American dream. Then, around 2010, I met Glenn.

Tell my readers, about your project.

Glenn: I’d be happy too.

The Coming Future is a coming-of-age story about a young man, Aalok, who doesn’t quite fit into the place he was born in. He lives in a crystal city on a flat planet where the sun rises out of the sea and sets on the other side of the planet. Aalok belongs to the ‘owr clan, which is the clan of light.  But when he reaches the age where members of his clan begin developing abilities congruent with their clan, Aalok’s abilities are largely silent.  Instead, he begins having apocalyptic dreams of a coming disaster. Suspecting that this is a form of his developing ‘owr abilities, Aalok goes to his instructor at the school, and then the Prime Minister of his city, but his dreams are largely ignored; until the disaster actually happens. Aalok then discovers there may be more to events than natural coincidence.

Intermixed within the book are various struggles with school, sports, and girls, much of which are formed out of the authors’ personal experiences and observations of kids today. Angel, at the time of writing, was a youth group director.

This book was a fun write, and is a fun read.  It has elements of steampunk, fantasy, and a hint of dystopian future that should appeal to today’s young adult audience, but one of our reviews from Amazon reads:  While the story is obviously geared to young readers, it was a very enjoyable read for me, a great-grandma.

What kind of research did you do for The Coming Future?

Angel & I read a fair amount of young adult novels and I made a special effort to watch a few Steampunk movies and shows to better understand the genre. There’s something about Steampunk that just seems fun to me. (Editor’s note: Steampunk is history with a twist of modern science. For example: machine guns during the Renaissance period.)

You may not realize it on a first read, but the work is heavily influenced by the Bible. From the names, many of which are from Biblical Hebrew or Greek, to the clans, whose origins can be found in the first chapter of Genesis, there is a strong Biblical influence to the work.

Several other character names were derived from other languages as well.  For instance, the main character, Aalok, means ‘Light of God’ in Hindi, and he is from the clan of light, the ‘owr, which is the Hebrew word for light.

How does co-authoring work?  How do you guys do this together? 

Initially, the process was a little disjointed. Angel and I got together and discussed what we wanted out of a story. Who is our audience? What style?  What kind of ‘magic’ is in the story? What is our main character going to be like? What about supporting characters? The world? We answered and debated those questions a little, and initially, we agreed on most of that.
After that, I sat down and started writing. The first few chapters came out pretty quickly, and what we see now is pretty similar to what came out initially. Then, after 4 chapters or so, Angel began outlining each chapter with ideas that we wanted to put in the chapter, and I would flesh it out.  Most of the time, I included (almost) all of what he wanted, and then added a bit more as I was inspired.  I kind of walked through the story with Aalok, and thought, “What would he encounter next? What logically flows here?”  I also would ask, “How can I create some more conflict?” and I would sometimes think, “We need a new, interesting character here.”

All of the kids in school, with the exception of Tenebris Pruir, a raging nerd, were mostly Angel’s doing. Aalok’s Dad, the instructor from the exile nation/school, and the coach of the domeball team (domeball is similar to soccer, except, well, in a dome) we worked on together.

So our process was (1) work together on the concepts, characters, and setting, (2) Angel outlines, (3) I write out what Angel outlined, (4) Angel reads what I wrote, adds in a few details or things I forgot, or just stuff that would make it cooler, (5) I edit based on Angel’s feedback, (6) I go back to #3 and write out the next chapter.  Repeat infinitum, or at least until we are done!

What Inspired you to write The Coming Future?

Angel & I set out to write a fun book with relatable characters facing issues that teens face.  We wanted to write characters facing problems where they made good and sometimes bad decisions, and then saw the consequences of those decisions.  At the time we wrote the book, Angel served as a Youth Director at his church, and we modeled some of the struggles the characters face off of what he saw in the lives of kids he knew.

I love layered stories that you have to peel back, so within the book, there are multiple mysteries and things that are happening that you may not realize. Then, when you arrive at something that will come out in book 3, you will go back and look at 1, and realize, “oh, that was that the whole time, and I never saw it!”

We were also inspired by our youths and things that we just didn’t get growing up.  One silly example: as a kid, I never understood stretching before playing baseball. Neither does Aalok. He struggles through stretching exercises when playing sports, wondering why he is doing it.   He also finds himself without appropriate equipment for practice, making him a little unsteady and unsure of himself.  These are all things I’ve faced in my youth.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Glenn: I very much love Matthew 6:33 – but seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Growing up, I struggled with anxiety a lot.  Working as a Registered Nurse, I always found myself worrying about what I may have missed or forgotten.  This verse calms me and centers me, allowing me to direct my nervous attention to my God rather than my worries. Now, twenty years later, I find that God has given me grace to embrace this verse, and freed me from the worries of my youth.

Angel: My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” God knows the plan that he has for me and by walking beside him, reading his word, gaining his wisdom and learning perseverance, I always find the love and joy that only he can provide}

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

Glenn: I think much of my focus is self-motivated.  I feel like I have stories living inside me that want to come out!  In my work environment, I will sometimes have an hour or two of dead time without any responsibilities, so I use it to write.  But if I had to select some sort of muse, I would say it comes from conversations I have with my friend, Marc, whom I will be releasing a book and game with in 2019.  I am often excited about writing after chatting with him.

Angel: My best support system to keep me focused on writing is music. My passion and love for music has always been a core value towards the imagination to create stories just like The Coming Future.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Glenn: I love the fantasy genre.  Good ole swords and sorcery and saving the world.  I have enjoyed some urban fantasy as well.

Angel: I love everything in the young-adult fantasy genre.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Glenn: I dunno. I have a romantic image of myself writing in Medard Park in Dover, FL, but I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it yet.  Plus, I’m in the middle of July right now, and it feels like 100 degrees. I think my current favorite is on the back patio, overlooking some trees and, presently, a pond (though it dries up in winter).  It’s very peaceful.

Angel I love to write and get ideas in small close places, like my closet or even in the bathroom. Headphones, music and an open imagination.

Do you listen to anything while writing? 

Glenn: Hmmm… I don’t mind silence.  I like the sounds of nature.  But I also like a Pandora station I made that plays instrumental movie soundtracks.

Angel  I like to listen to instrumental music, like movie soundtracks and instrumental bands like “Hammock”.

Cover Art(1)

Back-cover blurb for The Coming Future

Living in a crystal city on a flat world, Aalok Collins is an ordinary boy living in an extraordinary place. But Aalok fears that he is a little too ordinary.

All Aalok cares about, besides playing domeball, and, much to his surprise, girls, is his final exam which will determine whether or not he can move on to the Academy next year, or whether he is forced into slavery or exile.  But as he waits on nature to develop within him the powers, or anima that all in his clan possess, he is haunted by dreams of an imminent tragedy.

As he begins exploring the meaning of his dreams, Aalok encounters a plot to take control of an ancient artifact which could change the base of power in the city of Sherendot, and possibly throughout the ‘owr clan.

About the Authors:

Turner & Torres is comprised of Glenn D. Turner & Angel Torres, who met at work at a doctor’s office around 2010. Sharing a love of writing, they began getting together at lunch to comprise a story that young adults could enjoy with characters that readers would be able relate to.

Glenn has some additional writing projects that he is noodling with that may be put into print someday. He deeply adores his wife and four children, and is trying to learn how to play nice with others.

Angel, too, is a dedicated family man who lives in the Tampa Bay area, working in the medical field.  He is excited about the Coming World, Turner & Torres’ second installment of the Aalok Collins series.

Thanks for stopping by, guys. Sounds like a fun adventure in store for your readers.

Click the title to purchase The Coming Future.

 

 

A Visit from Children’s Author Eve Culley

Eve Culley, author

Today I have as my guest another jubilee writer, children’s author Eve Culley. Her love of storytelling bloomed after her children were grown. I am encouraged you followed your passion, Eve. Please, share with my readers a little about your writing journey.

I started writing while I was in grade school. I continued writing through high school and then I allowed marriage children, college, and missionary work to slowly push my writing aside.  Instead I told stories to my children and grandchildren. There were sporadic times of writing but they were few and far between. The need to put words on paper surfaced when I retired. My joy as a writer and a storyteller bloomed again.

What is your latest published project?

My second book, Further Adventures in Barn Town, is due out the end of Aug. to the first of Sept. 2017. It is to be published by Clean Reads.  Adventures in Barn Town, was published Feb. 2016 by Clean Reads.

How do you research for your childrens book?

I research my stories in several ways. I pick peoples brains about the subject. I read, read, read either on the internet or in books about the subject and I “people” watch for the interaction and resolving of issues.  I say “people” watch when actually I am watching the animals I write about.

What inspired you to write your books?

I have all these story lines bouncing around in my head: main story lines, back stories of the characters. I write more fluidly, I think, than I speak and the stories push/demand to be let out. When the story is on paper, the characters are fleshed out, then there is room for the next story to push to be let out. But you asked what inspired me to write. Hmmm. It would have to be the interaction between my characters. I hear them speak in their own voices and they tell me their stories. I just write what they tell me.

Eve Culley -adventures in barntown cover

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

I have always been told that I needed to be quiet, that I talked too much.  So I created worlds where I was in control, where I was safe. Writing, putting words on paper did that for me allowing that need to be fulfilled. I write for me, not so much the world. I am very thankful to the good Lord that people like to read my work, but truth be told, even if they didn’t I would still write.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Carve out a time between schooling, marriage, kids and continue to write.  What you need, what you desire is just as important as the rest of things.

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

My hubby is great about picking up my slack when I am writing, but I have to say that it is the work itself that keeps calling me back to finish, to start a new work, to continue to write.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

The “who-done-its”. Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason), Dashiell Hammett (the thin man) and the like.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I have a T.V. tray set up in the living room with my laptop in front of my big recliner, that way I can be with my hubby as I write.  I pretty much tune everyone and everything out but at least I am there. (grin)

More about Eve Culley:

During the 1970’s and 80’s, my husband and I were missionaries working in the United States.  We worked in different church print shops where Bibles, New Testaments, and individual books of the Bible were printed in different languages and shipped around the world.  We traveled across the U.S.  to raise money for paper, ink and shipping cost for the Bibles.  A lot of travel was required to gather the necessary money needed. As we traveled I would tell stories to our two young sons of adventure, heroes, and villains.

Once our sons grew into adulthood the stories stopped.  When our grandchildren would visit, the stories were requested again until they too grew out of them. But the story telling refused to die and go away.  Instead a hunger grew in me to put my stories on paper and books grew out of them. I write adventures for children to read, believe in and take life lessons from.

Story-telling is as much a part of me as breathing. I have found that I have to tell stories and put them on paper. I need to make room for the other stories that are building in my mind and will need to be told soon.  So, enjoy the ride. Stripe, the Sheriff, and even Rooster Cogburn have a lot of fun they want to share with you.

Eve Culley –  blog https://barntown.wordpress.com/

You can order Adventures in Barn Town online at Amazon or Barnes and Nobel

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KLLEXRS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Barnes and Nobel https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/adventures-in-barn-town-eve-culley/1125994126?ean=9781621355984

I hope Eve’s story inspires you to follow your writing dream. It’s never too late. I’ve been posting a lot of interviews lately because I believe hearing other writer’s stories keeps us all focused on the journey to publication. It reminds us to never give up. If you have any questions for Eve post them in the comment section.

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