Special Guest Elizabeth Heiter

Special Guest Elizabeth Heiter

Bum-bum-bum! Happy happy Thursday everyone! I hope y’all had a great day! I am super pumped to share with you my interview with Elizabeth Heiter, the author of Hunted! (See my review here.) Well, I’m just going to go a head and jump right into it!

What made you decide you wanted to start writing? Tell us a little bit about how you got your start!
I’ve always loved writing – and I always knew I wanted to be a novelist!  I can remember starting novels longhand in notebooks back in middle school.  I finished my first co-written manuscript in high school, and a few years after I graduated from college, I began submitting to literary agents!
 
What is your favorite thing about being an author and writing?
There’s a great thrill to coming up with that first tiny seed of an idea that you know can bloom into a full novel.  One of my favorite things is the brainstorming process, where that little nugget of an idea begins fleshing out into a real story.  One of my other favorite parts about writing is being so engrossed in writing a scene that my fingers can barely keep up with my brain.  That time when the story is flowing just right and you don’t want to stop writing, no matter how late it gets.  As an author, I have to admit there’s also something pretty amazing about seeing my novel in bookstores and hearing reader reactions.  The other day, I got a letter from a sixteen-year-old who said she hated to read, but loved HUNTED.  Moments like that make all the hard work truly worthwhile!
 
How did you come up with this story?
Many years ago, I became fascinated with the idea of criminal profiling – the notion that someone could show up at a crime scene where there were no solid leads, no strong suspects and no forensic evidence, and give law enforcement details about who had committed the crime anyway.  That was the first nugget for me – the first tiny kernel that would ultimately become HUNTED.  From there, I started fleshing out my character – asking myself what kind of person would choose this kind of work.  I decided that Evelyn needed something that personally motivated her from her past, such as the disappearance of her best friend when she was twelve.  Once I knew some basics about my character, I started developing my villain, the Bakersville Burier, and the plot.
 
What is your favorite character, moment, line, ect. from Hunted?
This is a hard one!  I love the characters for different reasons – I appreciate my heroine, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine, for her determination; her friend and possible love interest FBI Hostage Rescue Team Agent Kyle “Mac” McKenzie for his persistence and his charm; and their friend Gabe Fontaine for his humor.  One of my favorite moments in the book is when Evelyn opens up to Kyle a  little bit about her past and the case that brought her to the Bureau – the disappearance of her best friend Cassie seventeen years earlier.  (That case will return in the sequel to HUNTED, out next year.)
 
What character in Hunted do you relate to the most? (Explain how or why.)
I relate to them all (well, most of them anyway – not the serial killer so much!) for different reasons.  With my heroine, Evelyn, I love her tenacity and I relate to her determination to go after what she wants, no matter the hurdles.   I also like that she’s not perfect – she’s prickly and socially awkward and she’s definitely got room to grow, both in the course of HUNTED as she learns to let others in, and as the series progresses.
 
Did you end up cutting out whole characters or scenes during the writing process? Was it hard?
I did!  It was difficult.  There were some characters and scenes that I really loved, and I ended up cutting them.  But ultimately the end, the book was stronger without them, so they had to go!  When I’m revising, I try to take an unforgiving look at each scene and ask myself if it advances the plot and the character development in some way.  If not, no matter how much I like it, it’s got to go!
 
What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing and/or publishing Hunted? How did you handle or overcome it?
I think one of the biggest challenges was persistence.  I wrote many manuscripts and spent years submitting those manuscripts before selling, and sometimes that was discouraging.  But at the end of the day, I wanted this too much to give up on it!  And then HUNTED sold along with four other novels, so it was definitely worth the wait!
 
Are there any books or authors who have influenced your writing style or inspired you?
There are so many!  I’ve always loved to read, and I used to devour huge stacks of novels every week (I have less time for that now, being under deadlines, but I still read a lot).   I’m inspired every time I read a book that I don’t want to put down.  Some of my favorite authors include Lisa Gardner, Tom Clancy, Allison Brennan, Suzanne Brockmann, and Laura Griffin.
 
Any last words or advice for aspiring authors?
I think some of the best advice I can offer is the advice I got from Suzanne Brockmann many years ago.  At a book signing, she told me that the difference between an unpublished writer and a published author is perseverance.  So, “never give up” is a good motto for a writer!  Another thing I’d recommend is to find a strong writing organization to join – it makes a difference to have the access to craft and business information they can provide, but also being in a community of other writers is inspiring!
 
Thank you so much for your time! It has been great having you and learning more about you, your writing and Hunted!
Thank you so much for having me here, Briana!
JElizabeth Heiter
Wasn’t that just charming and full of great advice? Be sure to add her book Hunted on Goodreads and get it through Liberty Bay by clicking this: Hunted, and of course be on the look out for more from Elizabeth! I can’t wait to read book 2!
A Special Guest

A Special Guest

Today I am happy to give you my interview with a very special guest…Shawn Mihalik! Here is the interview with him!

Hi Shawn! It is a pleasure to have you as a sort of guest on Reader, Writer, Critic to talk a little bit about your writing career, publishing experience, and your new book Brand-Changing Day. Thank you for taking the time to do this! Now let’s get this party started!
 First off, tell us a bit about yourself and your new book!
I was born in San Diego but grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. I studied journalism at Youngstown State University, and while I loved (and still love) journalism, I realized that I would rather write fiction.
Brand-Changing Day is my second book but my first novel. It’s literary satire about the world of casual American chain restaurants.
 How and why did you start writing?
I started writing short stories and things like that when I was pretty young, maybe thirteen or fourteen, but of course I wasn’t very good. In high school I became interested in journalism, winning a few awards both as a writer for and then editor of my school paper.
Where did the idea for your book come from?
I worked in restaurants (as I think a lot of people do) a lot. When I was sixteen I got my first job at a Bob Evans, and in the years after that I worked for three other different restaurant chains. But the entire time, I hated the experience. I hated the policies, mentality, and what chain restaurants typically stand for. So when I wrote my first novel, it seemed natural that it would take place in and be about restaurants, exploring what makes them, and the people who work in them, tick.
Are there any parallels between Brand-Changing Day and its characters’ lives and your life? What are they?
Several. As I said, the book takes place in a restaurant, and I worked in restaurants for years. But the book also takes place in Youngstown, Ohio, where I group (and which is a city a love). Additionally, the main character spends some time living in Pittsburgh, PA, which I did as well.
Are any of your characters the types of people you would be friends with in your life? What characters and why or why not?
Some of them are, yes. Some of the characters—for example, Lori, Kara, and Mike the Bartender—are wonderful people. Other characters, on the other hand—like Geoff McCree, R.J. Fredickson, and of course, the black bear—aren’t very good people at all, or at the very least, they’re complacent people, content to live very boring, menial existences, and that doesn’t appeal to me in a friend.
And then there’s the main character, Scott, who I also probably wouldn’t be friends with, which is problematic because he’s a lot like me.
What was your publishing experience like working with an indie publisher?
It was wonderful. There are some amazing things happening in the indie publishing world, and Asymmetrical Press is doing a great job of taking advantage of them.
The best part of indie publishing is having a significant amount of control over the process: I got to work directly with editors, approve layout and covers, and things like that.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing and/or publishing Brand-Changing Day and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was releasing the book into the world. I have a very conservative family, but Brand-Changing Day is far from a conservative book—it has a lot of controversial, subversive elements, and I new my family wasn’t going to be happy that I’d written something like that. And they weren’t. But I had to release the book anyway.
What was your favorite part of the writing and publishing process?
My favorite part is creating. Creating a world, a sandbox, and then creating characters to play in that sandbox. It’s exhilarating when it all comes together.
Do you have any special playlists, writing habits or rituals” ect.? What are they?
 
I’d like to say that I do, but not really. When I wrote Brand-Changing Day, I went through periods of time where I was writing every single morning, but then there were other periods where I was writing every single evening instead. And then there were periods were I would go a few weeks having written barley a thing.
 
Even now, as I work on new projects, my processes are different. If I had to pick out any sort of pattern, I’d say that silence is important to my process. I have to be alone when I’m writing, with no music or background noise of any kind, which I think is why I like early morning or late evening the best most of the time.
It was been lovely having you and thank you again for your time!
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Brand-Changing Day

You can buy brand changing day through Liberty Bay Books by clicking the hyper-linked title under the cover and remember to add it on Goodreads!

Interview With Author C.C. Hunter

Interview With Author C.C. Hunter

Interview With Author C.C. Hunter

Hello loves, today I am sharing with you my interview with Author C.C. Hunter. She shared her inspiring story with me, answered my interview questions, and is letting me share it all with you. Her story and words truly inspired me and I found them wonderfully enlightening, helpful, entertaining, and fun! I hope you enjoy them and find them as helpful as I did! Now without further ado I give you the interview! Enjoy!

B: When did you decide to start writing books?
C.C.: First, Briana, thank you so much for having me at your blog. I love sharing my story with readers. To answer your question – It’s all my hubby’s fault. You see, I was born in Alabama and I come from a long line of storytellers. Some of my earliest memories are sitting around with my family, listening to them tell stories. Now, I’ll be honest. In my family, the truth never got in the way of our telling a good story, which is why our stories often got bigger and better each time we told them. What was important was making people laugh and, boy howdy, did we laugh a lot in my family. Before long, I was telling my own stories, too. As for writing those stories down on paper, well, that didn’t happen until later and that’s where my hubby comes in.
I was a new bride in my early twenties and Hubby asked me what I wanted to do with my life. He thought I would say I wanted to become a school teacher and would go to college and get the education I needed. Now, I do love teaching other people, but I thought about it for a moment, and then I told him I wanted to be a writer. Only problem was, I’m dyslexic. That means I sometimes get my words mixed up or I just flat-out leave them out completely when I try to put my stories down on paper. So becoming a writer was a lot harder for me than for most people. I had to learn how to deal with my dyslexia right along with learning how to write. But the struggle was worth it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
B: How did you decide what type of supernatural each of the main characters would be in the Shadow Falls series?
C.C.: Oh, that’s a great question. Now, I know this answer will sound a little strange, but it’s the truth. Here’s what happened when I started creating the characters for Shadow Falls—I let the characters define themselves.
Now, I knew that I would have vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, witches and faes in the series. I just didn’t know which character would be which type of supernatural, and that is where the characters themselves came in. I started with Kylie and then I moved on to the other characters. For example, when Della first appeared, she had this impenetrable wall around her that she wouldn’t let anyone get past. She came across as being tough, but I knew that the toughness probably had a lot to do with things that had happened to her, and once Della and I “talked,” I found out I was right. But now, having known Della for several books, can you imagine her as anything but a vampire? I know I can’t. She embodies the very nature of that species. And that is the way it worked for the other characters, too—once they appeared, they let me know which species they were. Well, all of them except for Kylie, of course—but that’s only because she wasn’t quite sure where she fit in.

B: How did you come up with the story line of the Shadow Falls series?
C.C.: The idea of the paranormal summer camp actually came from my editor Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press/Griffin. And that’s all she said to me, too—”paranormal camp.” She expected me to come up with the rest. But you know what? Those two words were enough to get my imagination going. Once I got Kylie figured out, the rest of the characters sprang to life, and each of them brought a piece of the plotline with them. Now, I’ll be honest. When I started Born at Midnight, the first book in the Shadow Falls series, I had no idea how the story would end. And now that I’m starting the final book, Chosen at Nightfall, I still have no idea which boy Kylie will end up with or what will ultimately happen to her and her friends at Shadow Falls Camp/Academy. But that’s okay. That’s how my writing process works—I learn the specifics of the book as I write it. And I gotta be honest. I think that’s why I love writing so much—I love finding out how the story ends, right along with my characters.
B: How did you decide what Kylie’s friends would be?
C.C.: Well, as I said above, the characters are the ones who tell me who they are. Believe me, I’ve tried to tell them, but that just doesn’t work out. For example, I can start writing a story where I *think* I know who the bad guy is, only to find out, as I get almost to the end, that I was wrong. So I’ve learned to let the characters lead the way. Often, I don’t find out what is going to happen next until they do. I know it sounds a little crazy, but that’s what works for me.
B: Did you cut out or scrap any characters during the writing process?
C.C.: That’s a good question. Back when I was learning how to write—we’re talking about twenty something years ago at this point—I did have to scrap whole scenes and even whole characters because it was necessary for the story. Of course, I was learning the process then, learning what worked for me and what didn’t. It’s something every writer has to figure out on her own. Now, I generally have a better handle on the writing process so I don’t usually have to cut out characters.
B: If you were a Supernatural like the ones in Shadow Falls, what would you be? Would you be rogue, a Shadow Falls Camper on your own out in the world doing your own thing, or working for the FRU full time?
C.C.: Hmm. It’s hard for me to answer because I’ve made some changes to the mythology for many of my supernaturals in the Shadow Falls series. Some of them, like vampires, shape-shifters, and werewolves, can be scary, but once you get to know them as characters, you’ll realize they all have some good qualities. I think that’s what makes it so hard for me to choose—I don’t want to be unfaithful to any of my characters. LOL. But if I had to choose, I’d probably go with either a witch or a fae. I think these characters offer the most options . . . although I think it would be totally cool to be able to fly like a vampire does. LOL.
Now, as for what I would do if I were in the Shadow Falls universe . . . that’s a great question. First, I know I’m not cut out to be a rogue. I feel more comfortable being around friends and family, rather than going it alone. So, I’d probably work for the FRU, though I’m nowhere near as brave as Kylie. I admire her determination and the way she is fearless in the face of danger to her friends and loved ones. I feel that way about my kids; I think it’s a mom thing, really.
B: Anything to say to aspiring authors just starting out?
C.C.: You know, I’m often asked to speak to a group of aspiring writers and when I do, I tell them the same things I tell anyone who has a dream they cherish. Namely, believe in yourself. Believe in your dream. And don’t give up, no matter how many rejections you may accumulate. Stay strong and keep working toward your goals. If it’s writing, take writing classes, attend writers’ conferences and soak up as much knowledge as you can while you’re there. And read. Read widely. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. And most of all, never let anyone steal your dream from you. Because I don’t care what the “experts” will tell you about the odds of making your dream a reality. I heard it all, too. I was a dyslexic high school drop-out when I decided I wanted to make my living as a writer. Believe me, the experts didn’t think I had a good chance of making it. If I’d listened to them, I never would. But I listened to myself. I believed in myself. And I made it. You can, too.
Thank you again for having me and sharing my story and my series with your readers.
 CC

You are very welcome C.C.! It was a pleasure having you and thanks again! Hope y’all loved the interview with her and love her books as much as I did!

Briana
Interview with Author Leanna Renne Hieber

Interview with Author Leanna Renne Hieber

Interview with Author Leanna Renne Hieber

I was ecstatic when I found that Leanna had replied to my E-mail asking if she could answer a few questions and if I could put the interview up on my blog! So, here is my interview with the amazing Leanna. 😉

B: How did you come up with the story line for Darker Still?

L: I’ve always wanted to write a haunting painting story, ever since I read and loved Oscar Wilde’s THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, but I wanted to write a story where the female characters are much stronger than they are in Wilde’s classic. I wanted to write a story where the girl saves the guy.

B: Do you have a favorite scene or moment in Darker still? What is it?

L: Oh, it’s so hard to pick favorite moments. I love when the painting changes and Natalie notices the changes, I could imagine how exciting and terrifying that would be at the same time. I also love Natalie’s nightmares. I grew up reading a lot of scary stories so I enjoyed writing those scenes. I love her moments with Mrs. Northe, and the advice and interesting company she provides. And of course I love Natalie’s moments alone with Jonathon, particularly as they start problem-solving and becoming a team together, fighting to reverse the curse, this sets them up for the really wonderful team-work they do together in the sequel that comes out this November, THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART.

B: Is there a character in Darker Still that you especially like or connect with? Who?

L: I connect with Natalie’s feisty and opinionated nature. Though Natalie is far more brave than me. I connect with Mrs. Northe’s open-minded sense of faith and the paranormal.

B: How did you decide you wanted to start writing?

L: I was writing ever since I could hold a pen and finish a sentence, and before that I was babbling stories the moment I could form words, so you could say I was a born storyteller. I started writing my first novel around the age of 12, it was a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera because I’d fallen in love with the musical and I thought there was more to the story when the musical ended. My stories always come from wanting to examine people who are often outside the norm in one way or another and helping those characters find their purpose in life.

B: Any advice for aspiring authors?

L: A few very important things: 1. Don’t stop writing. Ever. Even if you hit a writing block, go write something else. Think past your problem scene and write something else that happens later, then go back and fix the problem. Often you’ll figure out how to fix the problem scene while you’re working past it. You don’t have to write sequentially, in your first drafts you can jump around, just make sure in later drafts you connect all the pieces together. Write what inspires you and keeps you going.

2. Consider your emails, Facebook posts and Text messages as practice for writing, strive to use correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation (I realize this is hard on Twitter and I do use abbreviations and some LOL-cats words on Twitter, so I’m not totally averse to having fun with the language) within your public posts because then you appear as you would hope a writer would, with a respect for words and their proper usages. Don’t let the speed of technology take away from using words well and formatting them correctly. It just gives you a polish that if you train yourself to do it now, you will appear more professional when you begin to submit your work to publishers and to the public.

3. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re “too young” to write a book. I started my first novel around the age of twelve, and while that novel won’t see the light of day, it did teach me the discipline of writing. If I hadn’t started then, I don’t think I’d have published 5 novels, 5 novellas and countless short stories, and just have signed another book deal if I didn’t have the discipline that I developed in my teenage years. That isn’t to say you have to start young to be a writer, you can start writing whenever so long as you write consistently, regularly, keep to the discipline and always keep making your craft better. Your books will never be perfect but you should strive to make them the best they can be and never stop learning. Learning is never wasted. If people scoff at you passionately following your art, it’s only because they wish they’d have done the same about something that they cared about. The biggest ‘haters’ are people who feel insecure about their own pursuits when they see others boldly pursue their own. Don’t be held back by other people displacing their own issues onto you, even if they think they are trying to protect you from harsh realities. Yes, this business is brutal. Rejection is hard and painful and it never gets easier. But nothing in this world is ever worth doing that it doesn’t hurt as much as it gives joy.

If you want to know more about me and my work, I’m online at http://leannareneehieber.com, on Twitter: http://twitter.com/leannarenee and on FB: http://facebook.com/lrhieber I hope everyone will enjoy DARKER STILL and the sequel when it comes out in November!

I can’t wait to read THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART when it comes out and for those of you who haven’t read DARKER STILL yet you really should. I promise you’ll love it.

Briana