Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's Up With Me: State of Chaos Deets

What's up with me this time? So much. 
My schedule has been kind of crazy lately, and it can all be attributed to a little thing known as work. Ah, yes. Familiar with the term? 
Thought so. 
I'm currently working on State of Chaos, the sequel to State of Emergency, which was released January 18th of this year. The amount of time and research going into this sequel is unbelievable. 
(And slightly overwhelming, but hey. That's writing.)
I've gotten so many emails, letters and tweets from people wondering when State of Chaos will be released, what it will be about, and what they can expect. So I decided to cover some of the FAQs today. 

When is State of Chaos being released?
Soon. Very soon. 
You can expect State of Chaos to release Summer 2013. 

What is SOC about? 
I'm not going to give away the whole storyline! This book will continue the story of Cassidy Hart and Chris Young as they fight for survival in the post-apocalyptic United States. You can expect new characters, new settings and a little bit of a surprise. And that's all you're getting out of me for now. My lips, er, keyboard is sealed. 

Is there going to be a trilogy? 
The Collapse Series is exactly that: a series. There will be at least three books, but there may be four or five. It depends on the story and the longevity of the characters.
 If there's a story to be told, I'll tell it. 

What's it like writing the sequel? 
(see what I did there?) 
This book has required lots of research and editing. As with most novels, a sequel is often more challenging to write than the first installment, and this book has certainly been a bit more tedious to write. I love the characters and the story, though, and that makes it all worth while in the long run.

What kind of research are we talking about? 
Everything from reading tactical manuals to hands-on research experience in which I end up with lots of bandaids and quite possibly, a sunburn. I've talked to different people and learned a lot about different things. That's one of the best aspects of being a writer: You never stop learning. 

What's your workday like? 
Oh, that question. I work from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. I make sure I leave room for fun stuff, though. All work and no play makes Jack - I mean, Jill - a dull girl. 

Is there going to be a release tour for State of Chaos?
Yes! In the coming month, I will be orchestrating sign-ups for the release tour for this novel, so you can start looking for that sometime in May. If you want an ARC of State of Chaos, you'll also be able to sign up during this time. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How To: Researching for your Novel

Oh, so you're one of those people that think you know enough about something that you can skip researching it? How...amusing. 
(you can insert deadpan laughter right about here)
It doesn't matter if you're experienced in a certain subject or not, novel writing requires research. Even if you're writing about a subject you know inside and out, you'll still have to do some fact-checking to make sure your details are correct. 
Stumped about where to start? 
Here are some bulletproof tips for the author who needs to get some research done for their novel in the easiest, most efficient way possible. 
Make a list. Sure, it sounds so simple, but hear me out. You need to make a checklist of the information you're going to be needing to write your novel. For example, if you're creating a historical paranormal romance, you're going to want to learn as much as you can about the time period - everything from the clothes to the patterns of speech. Take your top five elements and research them to death before tackling everything else. Researching can get overwhelming if you don't take one thing at a time. 

Be social. Writers can be a little anti-social sometimes, can't they? And I mean that in the most flattering way possible, considering the fact that I myself am a professional writer. But we tend to write ourselves into a hole, er, office and forget that there are some really neat people outside our work bubble who know a lot. Writing an adventure novel about the military? Talk to somebody who's served. Penning a piece about the FBI? You might want to speak to somebody in the field. I'm researching for the sequel to my first novel, State of Emergency, and I've done everything you can imagine to get the information right - and I've got the pictures and bandaids to prove it! Writing an adventure novel isn't easy, folks. 

Learn and do. What? You thought eating M&Ms and watching Saturday Night Live counted as world experience? Think again. Like I was saying above, you need to talk to people to get information. But you also need to experience some of the things the characters in your books are. (don't take this too literally and do something stupid, okay? You're not going to turn into a vampire no matter how hard you try.)  You'll notice that a lot of authors throw their characters into areas of the country that they're personally familiar with. Do the same thing. And if you're not familiar with something, go get familiar. Right now. Yes. I'm serious. 
Familiarize yourself with something so that when you write about it, you know it. And if you know it, your characters will know it, and so will your readers.

You need to be willing to become a student to research. Learning is something we never stop doing, no matter how old we get. There's always stuff to see or do. You have to put yourself in a position to absorb the most information you possibly can, and 99.9% of the time, it's better to do than to be told. So if you can swing rock climbing in the Sierra Nevada mountains, go for it. If you can't, do everything you can to experience it otherwise. Watch videos, interview people, read firsthand accounts of that activity. 
Keep it real - research the facts. Be accurate. Sprinkle in those technical details as your story progresses, and people will say, "Yeah. That could happen. That's real." 
Next week I'll talk about the details in novel writing, but for now, get the heck off my blog...and start researching!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Arabelle's Shadows: A Look at Fleur Gaskin's Story

Now here's a story for you. 
Fleur Gaskin is a very cool lady. She was an international model for six years, appearing on runways, television commercials and magazines like Elle and Vogue. Her experience in the modeling world definitely had its ups and downs, and today she's talking about what inspired her to write Arabelle's Story, a novel based heavily on her own life. I think it's wonderful that Fleur has used the platform of a novel to help other people deal with something so difficult as depression. Check out this fabulous guest post she wrote for Writing Belle! 

Fleur! :)

 If I could choose to have one superpower it would definitely be the ability to read minds. I’m so very curious to understand why people do what they do, especially when it is something I personally would never do – like cheat, steal, or tell big, fat whopping lies. I don’t believe that people are naturally bad. I do believe that people make bad choices and those who do wrong do so because of their past experiences. I believe that if we could step inside someone else’s mind then we could discover the motivations behind their actions; we could learn their thought process and find out why they feel justified in their decisions. If we could all hear the insecurities and fears of even the most confident people I believe that the whole world would become a much more compassionate place.

 I think that reading a book is the closest we can come to visiting another person’s mind. We don’t just see a character’s actions, we go on a journey with them. We learn about their past, we read of their private hopes and desires. We are told of the emotions that accompany their experiences. This is why I chose to write Arabelle’s Shadows in diary format. I wanted to show the inner workings of my character’s mind, I wanted the readers to really understand where Arabelle was coming from.
  Arabelle’s Shadows has been described as intense, raw and personal - perhaps a bit too personal - but that’s how I wanted it to be. A major theme in Arabelle’s Shadows is depression, Arabelle struggles with it throughout the book. Depression is a disease that not everyone understands. Mental illness is so ridiculously common but it’s still rarely understood. If organs like the heart, liver or lungs can fail, why is it so hard to imagine that the most important organ of all, the brain, would have troubles too?
 I have heard that the human body cannot physically remember pain. It makes sense, if a woman could literally recall the agony she experienced giving birth she might flat out refuse to ever have another baby. I think it’s true for depression too. I have been in the depths of a depression so violently despicable I imagined nothing but death would be able to take away my hurt but because I am not depressed at this very moment and time I have trouble remembering that. When I meet people with depression I also sometimes want to tell them to just get over it, even though I know it is not that simple.

I hope that Arabelle’s Shadows can help those who read it step into the mind of depression. I hope that people will begin to understand the torment and constant battle sufferers face. Arabelle was always trying to get better, she’s an optimist at heart, but then life would get to her and down she would go again.
   If you know someone with depression I hope that by reading Arabelle’s Shadows I give you a tiny piece of the super hero ability to read minds and understand what your loved ones are going through. 

Fleur Gaskin is from New Zealand. She was an international model for six years, working in over ten countries, mainly in Asia and Europe. She has been in TV commercials, walked on runways and done many print jobs including Elle, Marie Claire and Vogue magazines. 
She presently lives in Shanghai, China with her fiancĂ©.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Aberrant: Young Adult Dystopian Novel (Guest Post by Author & Giveaway)

Author: Ruth Silver
Author Website           

In the future dystopian society of Cabal, the government instills equality for all and offers its citizens the perfect system.  There is food, shelter and jobs for everyone.  The one requirement is to follow the rules without question, including the government's match in marriage and "The Day of the Chosen", a lottery that randomly selects families to conceive children as natural means hasn't existed in generations.  Following her eighteenth birthday, Olivia Parker accepts her requirement to marry her childhood best friend, Joshua Warren, and is eager to start her work assignment and new life when it all comes abruptly to an end as she's arrested and thrown in prison.  The only crime committed, her existence.  Olivia is unlike the rest of the world born not from "The Day of the Chosen."  The truth haunts the government and puts her life in grave danger as one simple fact would destroy the perfect system. 
            With Joshua's help, Olivia breaks free of prison and is forced on the run.  Together they set out to find the promised rebel town in search of a new home and new life together.  Their situation seems less than promising as they reach the town of Haven.  New rules and customs must be adhered to in order to stay.  Leaving would mean most certain death in the large expanse of the Gravelands.  Time is running out as the government mounts an attack to destroy Olivia and bury her secret with her.  Thrown into a world unlike their own, they must quickly adapt to survive.       
Writing Dystopian Literature
By Ruth Silver

Writing Dystopian literature involves a lot of 'what if' scenarios. It means imagining a completely different world, often because of one event - or a series of events - that changes the world around us. I've always been intrigued by stories with depth, real characters and put in situations that aren't necessarily happening in our current world - but could potentially become that world. It was with my fascination with other literature, including The Hunger Games that led me towards writing Aberrant.
There are many classic Dystopian novels, one of my favorite stories that helped draw inspiration for Aberrant, is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. While in college, as part of a sociology course, it was required reading. It happened to be one of the best books a teacher had ever required me to read. Why did I find it so inspiring? It was a book that showed me a world I had never imagined. It was a story that captivated me from the first page, and made me wonder what would happen to the beloved characters I was reading about and would they survive.

Dystopian stories are often bleak, offering little to no hope for our main characters. Well-written fiction will offer the slightest glimpse of hope, somewhere within the story. Often the characters will endure emotional or physical torture in some form, making them as the story progresses, stronger. The book Children of Men is incredibly dark, and filled with despair. Although it isn't a YA novel, it is definitely Dystopian. The story does ask the question of how the human race would survive if the world was infertile.
In order to write Aberrant, I did some research on physicist, Gerald Feinberg. He hypothesized an undiscovered elementary particle, which he named 'mindons'. I won't further elaborate because I would hate to spoil the book, but the name and idea, is based in part on a scientific theory.

Science often plays a key role in Dystopian literature, whether it's the inability to populate the world, an incurable disease that has plagued the planet or the lack of electricity that has brought about chaos and in turn the spark of a 'Revolution'. Writing Dystopian fiction often means basing something you're writing in fact and research plays an important part in storytelling.
Ruth Silver attended Northern Illinois University and graduated with a Bachelor's in Communication in the spring of 2005.  While in college, she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004.  Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories.  Her love of writing led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia.  Silver enjoys reading, photography, traveling and most of all writing.  She loves dystopian and fantasy young adult stories.  Ruth has been actively writing since she was a teenager.  She currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois. You can find Ruth by following her on Twitter @writeawaybliss, or on Facebook: writeawaybliss
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Interview with NA Author Liz Long

Last year, I read a book called Gifted. I remember it well for two reasons. First, I can't seem to forget the fact that I was lying on a couch in an empty house, reading this novel when I was in the middle of moving across the state. Second, it was a very entertaining NA novel. Liz Long is back with us this year talking about Gifted and a new novel she's releasing, Witch Hearts. Check it out!

Tell us about yourself, as an author and a person. 
Hi there! I'm Liz Long, author of Gifted, a Donovan Circus Novel, and the upcoming Witch Hearts. I am also the social media editor at a publishing company in Roanoke, VA, where I am proud to be the voice of my magazine publications. I've been writing since the sixth grade newspaper and have been published in local newspapers and publications for several years. I'm obsessed with my dog Fisher, am head over heels for my musician husband, and love to spend too much money at Target (just ask the musician husband)!

I remember reading Gifted, a Donovan Circus Novel last June. It was really unique. Where did the inspiration for that come from? 
Thank so much! I began that book while living in Nashville and I hadn't initially thought to publish it. I wrote for my own sanity and one day, I began to write about a girl who could control fire. I'm a Fire sign and while I'm not a pyro, I've always thought it would be cool to control an element. When I began to think of how this girl lived in the real world, how she would hide from humans and still be part of her gifted world, the circus became an obvious choice. Of course the circus would hide a bunch of supernatural misfits - and then the story began to write itself from there. No really! I created Lucy and her circus and the next thing I know, I've got a murder mystery, a unique group of friends, and a villain who actually kicks off the rest of the series because his actions affect the next book plots. 

What's the plot for Witch Hearts, and when will it be released? 
Witch Hearts will be released on April 30th for both paperback and Kindle. It's an adult paranormal thriller in the same vein as "Kiss the Girls" or "Criminal Minds" but with a witchy twist. Here's the synopsis:

How does a witch stay safe if a killer can get through her protection spells?

Witches like Ruby and Courtney can take care of themselves. So when Courtney is murdered, Ruby’s world crashes to a halt. The only thing keeping her grounded is the return of Courtney’s brother, Cooper. He seeks revenge, but Ruby wants to help other witches stay alive. To do that, she’ll have to reunite with her old coven’s High Priest, who also happens to be her cheating ex-boyfriend.

If that wasn’t awkward enough, when the killer gets too close, Cooper temporarily moves into Ruby’s place while a police officer tails her every move. Cooper’s presence distracts Ruby as they fight their desire against their need to stay safe. Then Courtney begins to haunt Ruby’s dreams and secrets are spilled, things from Cooper’s past that could get them both killed. The killer continues to stalk Ruby and the more she discovers, the more she fears she won’t be able to keep her heart in her chest.

How long did it take you to write it? 
Witch Hearts took me, from start to finish, about a year by the time my cover and info was done. It's actually being released exactly one year after Gifted!

Favorite writing snack? 
Skittles - with the green apple flavor instead of lime :)

Advice for aspiring authors? Any parting words of wisdom?
Know that it's okay to take a break sometimes. Between day to day life, hobbies, and writing, you can get tired. I'm not saying skip writing for days or weeks at a time - just don't feel guilty about taking a night to watch your favorite movie or TV shows with a husband/kid/dog by your side. You can get back to it tomorrow!

About the Author:

Liz Long is lucky enough to have a dream career in magazine publishing as an editor and writer, yet still have time to create adventures on the side. If you catch her staring off into space or talking to herself, don’t worry – it’s just her imagination at work.

Liz graduated from Longwood University with a BA in English, though her professors might be disappointed to hear she reads more fantasy fiction than literary novels. She also loves action and thriller genres. This book probably won’t change your life, but she hopes it steals you away from reality for a while. 

Her newest release, Witch Hearts, will be for sale on Amazon on April 30th. Her first book, Gifted, a Donovan Circus Novel, is also available for paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

To learn more about Liz, visit her website: http://lizclong.com

Author Links:
Twitter (Handle: @LizCLong) 
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