Dec 31, 2012

Bright Lights #3 - Karen Y. Bynum - Witch Way to Turn


2012 is rapidly coming to a close with 2013 looming large on the horizon. Who better to see in the New Year with than Karen Y. Bynum? (That's a rhetorical question...there's nobody better to see the New Year in with and to even have given that question a moment's thought is, frankly, insulting. *HUFF*)

Sorry. I meandered.

Ladles and Jellyspoons, I would like to introduce you to the lovely Miss Bynum. She bravely agreed to come visit my blog and impart some of her wisdom, experience, a wee bit of crazy and tell us about her latest book: Witch Way to Turn.

Don't worry, I'll let Karen do most of the talking...


Karen Y. Bynum (Likes devouring cookies and souls)
Karen Y. Bynum is an author of young adult paranormal fantasy.  Her debut novel Witch Way to Turn is published through Lyrical Press.  She grew up in Hickory, North Carolina where mountains and magic surrounded her.  Even as a child, she wrote her own faery tales and prattled incessantly to her imaginary friends.

After graduating from UNC Charlotte with a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Communications, she went on to become certified in culinary arts from The Art Institute of Charlotte.  But it wasn’t until her aerospace engineer husband accepted a job in Virginia and they relocated that she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

With the support of family and friends, Karen embarked on a journey with the voices in her head.  They wouldn’t stop talking (yes, she does answer back) and their stories took shape. 


Karen currently lives in coastal Virginia and enjoys reading, tweeting, writing and spending time with her husband and their spoiled rotten Vizsla named Rusty. 


Spartagus says: No, I wasn't used as the model for this cover


Q - Hi Karen, your brand new book Witch Way To Turn is out NOW! You've had some time to process it all, how does it feel being a published author?

A – Hi Gareth! Thanks so much for inviting me on your blog! Yay!! I have to say it’s awesome. *smiles really big* One of my stories that was knocking around inside my brain for so long is now out in the world! 

Q - Do you ever introduce yourself as a writer? :0) 

A – Hmm. I haven’t—probably because I don’t write full-time, yet—but I think I shall try it out. ;)


Q - You've got a string of positive reviews on Amazon; has that been heartening that all your hard work is being received so well by your audience? 

A – It’s a wonderful and giddy feeling! I’m so thrilled to know that readers love Breena, Myles and Orin as much as I do.

Q - Breena, the MC of Witch Way To Turn is a strong (female) protagonist, did the character come to mind first or the story? 

A – Breena definitely came first. From the start she told me her story. The first memory I have of her was near the end of chapter one when blue light erupts from her hands as she tries to protect her foster sister.

Q - When dealing with elements of Fantasy or the Paranormal are you inspired by anything in particular? 

A – Pretty much anything can be inspiration for me, especially dealing with Fantasy and Paranormal…a leaf floating to the ground can hold a tiny civilization on a collision course with the brittle grass below. A woman with a Prada bag gripped tightly in her hand could be a dragon in human skin, just searching for her next victim.

Oh and definitely music too. It’s probably my greatest on-the-go inspiration.


Q - In Witch Way To Turn you set up interesting relationships, including an important one between Breena and her foster sister. How important is it for you to set up strong character dynamics in your stories? 

A – Great question. Yes, Breena and Jenny’s relationship was vital to the story. The way they interacted with their special language and love for one another made everything about the story extremely real to me. Definitely important! When the characters are real in my mind, they come alive on the page. *talks to the voices in my head* ;)


Q - It's usually difficult to boil down the essence of your story into one genre or classification, does that ever restrict your choices as a writer or do you just write and worry about how to pitch it later? 

A – Hard hitting question…love it! Most of my stories I worry about how to pitch it after I’m finished with draft 624, and this usually works well for me. ;) The one—my grim reaper story—that I did write a pitch sentence for before writing the actual manuscript received a request from an editor; however, for some reason I’ve yet to finish writing it. Eep! So, I probably won’t be writing pitches anymore before The End is written. lol

Q - How was your experience working with Lyrical Press? Could you give us some insight into how long the process was from pitch to publishing? 

A – I have met so many wonderful people through Lyrical. For one, my editor is amazing! All the Lyrical authors are so supportive of each other, and I was extremely impressed with the cover for WWTT. I’m grateful to Lyrical for giving me the opportunity to share my work.

As for the process, I queried Lyrical in November of 2011, was offered a contract in December of 2011, started edits in January of 2012, finished edits in April 2012 and WWTT officially released on August 6, 2012.


Q - Do you have a particular writing spot or a time of day you like to write? 

A – I’m an early bird writer. So I am usually up by 4:30AM on Monday through Friday and at least by 7:30AM on the weekend. My morning writing spot is either the dining room table or the recliner by the fireplace in the living room. If I write at night I can be found in my writing cave—which consists of a large monitor on my desk from college—in the bedroom.

Q - Do you write every day? 

A – Yes, indeed. My soul dies a little if I don’t.


Q - Once you have your story down, do you like to use Beta Readers or have friends critique it? 

A – Most definitely. My beta readers are the best! Not that I’m partial or anything. ;)


Q - Were you nervous about letting people read your work for the first time? 

A – The first time I let someone read my very first work, I was an absolute basket-case! O.o I’m actually still like that with first drafts.


Q - What has been the general reaction from close friends and relatives? 

A – The reactions have been wonderful! So supportive and excited. I love it!


Q - What are your thoughts on the uses of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter etc) for writers. Has it helped in your development? 

A – It’s extremely important. For an author who is just starting out—like myself—it’s a great way to get your name out there and build a brand for yourself. I have to admit that Twitter is almost as addictive as coffee. So, I have to be careful that I don’t spend too much time on there.

Q - Do you have any current favorite authors/books? 

A – I just recently read Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, and OMG, it was amazing! Also, the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning is just…WOW. I’ve never seen character development like Mac, the heroine! So fantastic.

Q - Do you suffer writer's block? 

A – Yup, on occasion.


Q - Is it important for a writer to also be a reader? 

A – Very!!


Q - Library or Bookstore? 

A – Bookstore because I can get coffee there. :)


Q - Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you listen to? 

A – Nope! No music for me. The voices in my head are too easily distracted. :P


Q - How do you choose your next story? 

A – They normally choose me. :)


Q - What are you writing now? 

A – A dark, gritty New Adult book with dragon shifters and a twist!


Q - What excites you most about writing? 

A – Learning about the characters and seeing the story develop right before my eyes. Anything is possible and their lives are in my hands! Bwahaha ;)


Q - One piece of advice for new writers? 

A – Set a word count/page number goal and then strive for it every day. Read inside your genre and out. Treat people the way you want to be treated. And remember that tomorrow is a new day.


And finally - You're are going to be stranded on a desert island (for a wee while) but I'm going to allow you to take 1 book, 1 piece of music, 1 movie, a bowl of your favorite dessert and 1 person you'd like to share the island with for a while (alive, dead, fictional or real...it matters not) What are your choices...and if you want to elaborate...tell me WHY? 

Ahhh! How will I ever choose? Hmm, okay—as a romance writer—this answer could go in all kinds of steamy directions! LOL *decides on the PG/angst filled route* ;) Here goes…

(Music – Star Wars: A New Hope soundtrack) Why? Well, isn’t it obvious? It’s awesome! Plus, having an instrumental would help creativity. And let’s face it, if I’m stuck on a desert island I’m gonna have to get creative at some point…otherwise, I’ll get bored. LOL

(Movie – The Princess Bride) Why? True love. Adventure. Despair. Revenge. Forgiveness. Happily ever after. It’s all there! Besides, I can literally watch that movie over and over and over and it never gets old.

(Favorite dessert – brownies) Why? If I only get one sweet treat, it has to be chocolate. And brownies are a classic!

(Person – Ian Somerhalder, as Damon from The Vampire Diaries) Why? Well, erm, uh…for obvious reasons? teehee *looks into his crazy eyes and swoons*

And finally… (Book – Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl) Why? I’ve never read this series, but I’ve wanted to for a long time. Herein lies the angst…I’m on a desert island, and after I fall in love with the book, I can’t get the rest of the series! Step aside, vampires, that is true torture. ;)


Thank you so much for agreeing to appear on my goofy little blog. :0) Say hi to Banshee for me! :0)

Thanks so much for inviting me! It was my pleasure. Banshee says hi, but she’s upping her required daily sacrifice…so, bring on the white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies! :)

Karen's book is available everywhere so there's really no excuse not to buy it. You can read about it below and follow the links at the bottom to buy a copy. Banshee would appreciate it...and trust me when I tell you, you don't want to upset Banshee. :0) And remember, if you enjoy a writer's work, post a review, let the writer and other readers know what you thought! 


Witch Way To Turn
Can you give one guy your heart and another your soul?

The last thing eighteen-year-old Breena Cross needs in her life is more complications. It’s all she can do to balance studying, working, trying to keep her foster-sister safe and drooling over the new guy at work. But things go from complicated to crazy when a fit of rage ignites the dark magic inside her and she finds herself fending off the supernatural underworld.

Myles, Breena’s drool-worthy coworker and vampire convict, is carrying a load of secrets--one of which is that he’s fang-over-lip in love with Breena and in danger of violating the terms of his sentence.

Orin is a soul-hungry assassin sent to kill Breena. However, he takes one look into her eyes and sees his own lost humanity. For once thinking of someone other than himself, he chooses not to end her life, even though it means risking his own.

Despite a convict and an assassin fighting over her, all Breena wants is custody of her sister. But to do this, she will need help from both Myles and Orin. And if Breena doesn’t learn to control the darkness within, she could lose her sister…forever.

WARNING: Contains strong language and some graphic content.

Where to find Karen on Social Media and Buy Links for Witch Way to Turn


Dec 17, 2012

Bright Lights #2 - Carey Heywood - A Bridge of Her Own


The second patient on my operating table...ready for dissection...hmmm, this intro is a little on the serial killer side. Let me try again.


My second unsuspecting victim...ugh...just roll with it...

...is the delightful Carey Heywood. Many of you may know her from Twitter, or the surrounding internetosphere, and she has graciously accepted my invite to swing by my wee blog and answer a few of my questions.

I bumped into Carey on twitter and despite the fact she's happily married and a proud mama with younglings, she made me her twitter husband. The relationship was rocky from the outset due to my lack of "Swedish Fish" knowledge. I think we weathered that storm and have survived about 100 tweets since then. I still haven't tasted a Swedish Fish but fortunately Christmas approaches, her new book is available to buy on the Kindle site and she's in a forgiving mood! 

So without further ado...and while she's still talking to me...



Carey Heywood



Q - Hi Carey, your brand new book A Bridge of her Own is out NOW. Tell me about the story and your main character...

A Bridge of Her Own tells the story of Jane Martin, a recent college graduate. She is plotting a new path for herself after her original life plan does not go as expected.


Spartagus says: Awesome cover!


Q - What came to you first: character or story?

Story, I wanted to write something that I, as a reader would like to read. I wanted a story that focused on the initial stages of being attracted to someone.
Q - How do you pick an idea to turn it into a story? Does it jump up at you or do you have to work through something until it "hits"?

I tend to have ideas jump out at me.

Q - A common mantra for writers is: write what you know. Do you base anything in your books on "what you know"?

Yes, I absolutely am inspired by personal experiences. I try and put into words how I felt in certain situations in my life, then mold the feelings to match the story. I have fallen in love, I have traveled, for example I've set this book and another in places I've lived. 


Q - Tell me about the genre you write in: do you write the stuff you'd like to read or did you just find something you were good at and stick with it?

I write Mature YA, or New Adult. I read a lot of YA and paranormal/ fantasy.



Q - During our wee chats in email and Twitter, you've managed to convey your story ideas really well condensing the important parts into a catchy hook. In writing parlance that's known as a pitch. Is that something you're naturally good at or is it something you've had to practice? 

In my day job it is necessary that I give my opinions in a succinct fashion. I do tend to ramble incoherently for ages verbally. Not joking, I also believe the character limit on Twitter is useful to curb my blathering tendencies.


Q - How was your experience working with an editor and a cover designer? Was it difficult to relinquish some creative control when you involved other people?

I love both my editor, Yesenia Vargas and my cover designer Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations. I tend to be wildly impatient and honestly I originally rushed the initial publication of my novel. I am working on inner peace and not rushing the process this time. Sarah tends to work in the wee hours of the night so I loved waking up to emails from her. I completely trust both of them and had no issue relinquishing control.



Check out the brilliant work of Sarah Hansen here: okaycreations
And editor Yesenia Vargas here: http://yeseniavargas.com/

Q - Could you give me some insight into how long the process from pitch to publishing took you?

I began writing A Bridge of Her Own in Nov, 2011. Lost at least a month in thinking it would be brilliant to hand write my novel. Typing everything I had written was horrid, I now only jot random notes on paper, or hands, etc. I finished my rough draft in April, worked on editing till the original release in Sept, 2011. Realized I am not an editor or book cover designer not long after and unpublished it so I could partner with some pros.


Q - Do you have a particular writing spot or a time of day you like to write?

I write in bed, that should not sound suggestive. I sit with a pillow in my lap and my laptop on top of that. I normally write in the evening before I go to bed so it is just a matter of convenience.



Q - Do you write every day?

Try to!



Q - You've talked with me before about Beta Readers, so I assume you find them an invaluable part of your process. What are you looking for when you put your story out to Beta Readers?

I am less worried about things an editor would catch, I'm more concerned about any parts are confusing or annoying. Sometimes annoying is good though, I loved feedback that everyone hated this one character because that was what I was going for.


Q - Were you nervous about letting people read your work for the first time?

Yes, I was fully prepared to curl up in the fetal position and cry. I'm still terrified someone out there, once it is re-released may hate it. I want people to like what I write, I just have to deal with the fact that you can not please anyone.


Q - What has been the general reaction from close friends and relatives?

Love and support! My mom was my very first editor. 


Q - What are your thoughts on the uses of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter etc) for writers. Has it helped in your development as a writer?

I have a Twitter account and a Facebook author page. I love Twitter, I have made many contacts (you included) that I now consider friends in addition to being amazing resources. I'm somewhat lazy about my Facebook page, I just smacked my hand. I will be better at it, I promise :/



Q - Do you have any current favorite authors/books?

Yes!

Melodie Ramone - After Forever Ends

Helen Boswell - Mythology 
Rachel Higginson - every book she wrote

Q - Do you ever suffer from writer's block?

Not so much, I more often suffer from distracted writing. When I get sucked into a TV show or being chatty on Twitter instead of writing.


Q - Is it important for a writer to also be a reader?

I believe so.



Q - Library or Bookstore?

Both.



Q - Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you listen to?

Not often, but when I do it is my Pandora Lenka station.



Q - How do you choose your next story?

Stray idea.



Q - What are you writing now?

Working title Stages of Grace. Using the five stages of grief to follow the journey of Grace who is mourning a relationship she is still in.



Q - What excites you most about writing?

Telling a story.



Q - One piece of advice for new writers?

Ask for help, if the first person you ask is a tool keep asking people. I was introduced to a writer through a mutual friend and she totally blew me off, it made me nervous to reach out again. That was stupid, don't do that.



Q - What's your favorite animal...just because...I want to know! lol

Elephant



And finally - You're going to be stranded on a desert island (for a wee while) but I'm going to allow you to take 1 book, 1 piece of music, 1 movie, a bowl of your favorite dessert and 1 person you'd like to share the island with for a while (alive, dead, fictional or real...it matters not) What are your choices...and if you want to elaborate...tell me WHY?

Book - After Forever Ends. I love this book.

Music - John Denver, Today. It reminds me of my dad.
Movie - My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I love this movie.
Dessert - Swedish Fish (you totally already knew that). 
Person - I'd love to see Cameron again, a friend who died that I never got to say goodbye to.
A Swedish fish...you can tell because it says Swedish on it.
Thank you Carey for coming to play on my blog! I appreciate your time and wish you every success in the future.

Please check out Carey's new book here: A Bridge of Her Own

And don't forget to "LIKE" and give a review!

Carey can also be found on Twitter: @Careylolo go say hello and let her know what you thought about her book and this wee interview! :0)





Dec 13, 2012

The Next Best Thing Blog Hop


Hello blogoverse! It's 12/13/12 so it's time for a new post. I sometimes struggle for ideas so luckily the delightful and super-cool @MeganPaasch called me out on her Blog: Rhymes with Smash!...and so now to the questions:

I hope I have some good answers...

What is the working title of your book?

It started off being called Solace. Which is the name of the fictional town it's set in. For the last six months though I've been calling it PERSEPHONE, after the main character. I think I'm going to stick with that.

Where did the idea come from for your book?

I had an idea for a trilogy of stories based around the disappearances of three young girls. The first was MONSTERS, my self-published book about a detective hunting for a young girl kidnapped on Halloween.

The idea was to connect the stories both thematically and using the same basic cast of characters. One of the characters in the first story, Emerson Watts, used to be a Federal Agent and his life was defined by one big moment in his past. That moment was the rescue of a young girl from the clutches of a serial killer. During Monsters I set-up a couple of little threads which I intended to continue in the next book. A young woman appears in Monsters...a cameo, if you will, before her starring role in my new story. Her name? Persephone Bright.

What genre does your book fall under?

Thriller/Mystery/Suspense Somewhere in that ballpark. 

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Kidnapped, abused and tortured as a child, Persephone Bright has tried hard to move on from her harrowing past but, the man she escaped from wasn't as dead as she had been lead to believe, and now a series of murders in Solace suggest The Dollmaker is back and he may be looking for the one that got away.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My first was self-published. I've seen how that works and have been able to see the strengths and weaknesses in doing it that way. This one I'd like to have represented by an Agency. I want to go through the process and try and learn about it. If I come up empty handed, I will then go back to the self-publishing route. I intend to spend some time pushing this story though. 

How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took 30 days during NaNoWriMo 2011 to write the bulk of it. Then another couple of months to get it to the right sort of length I wanted. It's undergone a few revisions though and I'm still working on fine tuning how the story is told. I want it to be similar to the first story but not told in the same way so it doesn't feel I'm just regurgitating the same stuff. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I would liken them to any story that has strong characters and a thriller/mystery angle. I think the Alex Cross stories by James Patterson would be a decent parallel. Fast paced, strong characters and I like my stories to carry a psychological aspect to add the thrills.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don't normally like to share this information since it limits the imagination a bit. If I was casting a movie version I have an idea who I'd like in the main roles but I generally keep that stuff to myself. I will share one character from Monsters. Emmy Watson was based entirely on Elisabeth Shue, only with red hair and green eyes. I've had a mad crush on her since the Karate Kid came out (the original one from a hundred years ago...not the Jackie Chan one). 

*sigh*

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The psychological impact of kidnap and captivity has come up often in the news with children being found, or being lost altogether. That fear of losing a child is in the heart of every parent and that has been true throughout human existence. The basic idea of my story borrows from the Greek myth of Persephone. She was kidnapped by Hades and taken to the Underworld. Persephone's mother, Demeter (The Goddess of the Harvest), went on strike until Zeus did something to get her back. Persephone was returned but she had eaten seeds from a Pomegranate which meant she returned to the Underworld for a period of time every year. So the myth explains the seasons, why the ground is fertile and things grow in Spring (Persephone's return) and withdraw in the Autumn and Winter (Demeter on strike).

I took this myth as the backbone of my story idea. In my story Persephone was rescued as a child after being abducted. I wanted to write about what would happen if the same guy got a second chance to take her.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If you read the first one, you will enjoy the returning characters: Doyle, Watts, Harald and Travis. There's thrills, spills and a wee bit of sexy. Hopefully the twists in the narrative will keep you turning the page.

Ok, well I hope that cleared some things up. :0)

Now, I have to pass the torch and my nominations are:

@BuddhistOnABus
@GinaWestAuthor
@Mari_Wells4
@FebruaryGrace
@saraleggz

Let the world know about your WIP...give us the skinny!