Friday, May 31, 2013

State of Chaos: Question and Answer Time with the Author (Me)

At this point, I have received just about every question you can think of regarding State of Chaos. I did a FAQ feature about a month ago, and because things have changed since then, it's time for another one. Here's the rundown on the sequel to State of Emergency

When does it release
If all goes well and the earth doesn't cease in its usual orbital trek around the sun...yeah. You can mark your calendars for June 28th.

Does anybody important die in this book?
Let me put it this way: you're getting nothing out of me on this point. Spoilers aren't cool, people! 

How long did it take you to write State of Chaos?
Technically, State of Chaos has been in the works for 6 months, but it took me a little less than 35 days to write it. The entire process of editing, researching and making everything sparkle took exactly 43 days. 
I count. 

Last time you focused on the two main characters: Chris and Cassidy. Will there be any new characters in this book? 
Well, obviously! This sequel allowed me to expand Cassidy's world a little bit. Or I should say...what's left of her world. New people, new situations, and new character developments. 

Are any of your characters based on real people?
A good author never reveals the inspirations behind their characters. A great author alludes to the inspirations...but leaves it at that. People inspire me, yes. Situations inspire me. Places inspire me. Is Chris based on a real person? Yes and no. Is Cassidy? Yes and no. Characters tend to take on a life of their own, and the personalities of those around us make them more colorful. Fiction is just an embellishment of reality, after all. 

Pace yourself! I'm taking a couple of days off from novel writing just to give myself some time to breathe a little oxygen and sleep in two extra hours in the mornings. That helps. I start working on book 3 next week, so yes. The story will continue. And I'll go right back to my usual schedule of sheer madness. (But madness is genius...right?)

Is Chris Young inspired by somebody in real life? 
I created Chris last year when I was writing the scene from State of Emergency where Cassidy is escaping the city. I hadn't even anticipated a male lead before that point. 
He is an offshoot of what I thought a man should be: dedicated, logical, and, let's face it: manly. I like heroes who know how to fix things, fight things and protect things. The old fashioned cowboy types, you know? Chris is all of those things. He's just a decent, humble guy, and I draw from the inspiration of real-life heroes all around me when I write about him. 

How long does it take you to write a novel...any novel? 
Depends on the length of the novel. I can usually write a book in a month. I like to have a basic outline before I spend all the time and effort of actually creating the book. When I am writing the book, I set a word count for myself and I'm not allowed to do anything - not even my other jobs - until I've reached that point. That means cell phones are out the window, radios are forbidden, and the only people you get to talk to during this lockdown time is the yogurt parfait sitting on the counter in front of you. 
Yeah. Writing can be a lonely job, sometimes. 
Hello, Mr. Yogurt.

Parting words
I think everybody will be surprised at what happens in State of Chaos. Cassidy gets to grow a lot as a character, and her relationship with Chris really matures a lot. Plus, releasing a sequel is just plain fun, when it comes right down to it. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Creating an Independent Heroine: Lightning Rider interview with Jen Greyson

Jen Greyson is a busy lady. Her New Adult novel, Lightning Rider, releases today  - and trust me when I say that it's no easy task to release a book. 
Lightning Rider features plenty of adventure, romance and kick-butt action scenes. I interviewed Jen about her new book, her writing world, and what makes her tick. Check it out!

Jen: A huge thank you to Summer here at Writing Belle for interviewing me and letting me come visit. 
Me: Give us the rundown on Lightning Rider.
Jen: Lightning Rider is a new adult fantasy.  It's about the first-ever female time traveler who has to go back to ancient Spain and kill a guy.  She’s a Latina who teams up with a roman warrior to save the world. Along the way she has to learn who to trust and how to use her lightning bullwhips.
 Me: Give us the rundown on yourself.  Who are you and why are you a writer?
Jen: Well, I am a mama unleashing stories.  I started writing about eight years ago and have a lot of fun with it.  Lightning Rider is my first published novel.  I am a huge fan of traveling and outdoors.  If I get any sort of vacation, I am either headed out camping, or boating, or heading to Disney World to ride the Dueling Dragons.  I absolutely love being in new places and I think that's one of many reasons why I set this book in Spain. It gives me a way to research a place and see it from a character's view point.
 Me: What was the inspiration for Lightning Rider?  Did you have to do a lot of research for the novel?
Jen: The inspiration for Lightning Rider came from a very quirky conversation that I had with my family during a family reunion.  We were talking about my grandpa, who was into some off the wall stuff--astral projection and out-of-body experiences.  I started thinking “what if?” . . . What if there was a family that was given the ability to time travel and change events?  And the story took off from there.  

I didn't originally plan on ancient Spain, but that was where the character led me, which turned into a lot of research on ancient Spain, on the hero, Viriato, and on Roman soldiers and the Roman occupation of Spain.

I love research and I get really geeked about it, so sometimes I end up doing more research than writing.  But it's an amazing book and I had so much fun with it.

Me: How long did it take to write the book from cover to cover?
Jen: This book was one of those that just wouldn't die.  I started writing it two years before I got the deal for it, and it looked nothing like it does now.  I didn't love it, I put it aside, I worked on something else. But, I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I'd take it out and tweak it and it was just never quite right, and I finally burned the manuscript, then found it the next morning again on my desk!
At that point, I figured this thing wasn't ever going to go away, so I finished it.  And finally found Evy's voice and wrote it from the right point of view, and everything just fell in line.  So, total time on this book is seriously two years. Once I found the right story, from the right perspective, it took me about six months for version I submitted, then we did about another two months worth's of editing.  
Me: I love strong independent heroines and I think Evy sounds like my kind of girl. How did you come up with her character?
Jen: That is a great question, and like I said, I got it wrong for a while, and she is incredibly stubborn and strong and independent and will get her way no matter what.  So, I think there wasn't really a “coming up with” Evy--It was more about getting out of her way, and letting her tell the story.  She's an amazing character.  And it's been a blast to see her grow from a very self-centered, brash, aggressive girl to a thoughtful, vulnerable, woman.  And I really hope readers like her, because I don't see her leaving me alone any time soon.  

Me: I can't help it.  I am curious about Constantine.  Any juicy deets you can spill on this Roman warrior?

Jen: Ohhhhh Constantine . . . Constantine has been in this book from the very beginning, and he was really—when I look back on it now—he was really the pillar that cemented this story from the very beginning and he’s always been drawing Evy to him.  And that's so characteristic of their relationship . . . his relationship with everyone, really.  He's a pretty tortured guy, but things are going to get a lot better for him in book two (so there’s a teaser for everyone: he’s back, and he’s back in true Roman warrior style)

Me: Advice to aspiring authors?

Jen: Never give up.  Be careful who you show your work to.  Believe in the story.  Never, ever, ever quit.

Me: Thanks so much for stopping by – best of luck in all of your writing endeavors!

Jen: Thanks for having me! I really enjoyed the interview, thanks for the great questions.

About Jen
From the moment she decided on a degree in Equestrian Studies, Jen Greyson’s life has been one unscripted adventure after another. Leaving the cowboy state of Wyoming to train show horses in France, Switzerland, and Germany, she’s lived life without much of a plan, but always a book in her suitcase. Now a wife and mom to two young boys, she relies on her adventurous, passionate characters to be the risk- takers.

Jen also writes university courses and corporate training material when she’s not enjoying the wilds of the west via wakeboard or snowmobile. Her new adult fantasy, Lightning Rider, comes out May 31 and features a Latina heroine with some serious superpowers.

You can find Jen here:

About Lightning Rider:
Heiress to a time-traveling dynasty, Evy Rivera is finally claiming her birthright as a lightning rider. Problem is, she’s forced to learn it alongside Constantine, a prickly, obstinate Roman warrior who constantly challenges her to be the woman he sees in her.

Thrown back into ancient Spain, Evy must rely on guts and instinct to wield her lightning as a weapon and outsmart Ilif, her quasi-mentor who believes time traveling should be left to the Rivera men.

During her training, Evy and Constantine battle the push-pull of their explosive relationship, aware the 2,000-year span between their lives is an unavoidable hurdle.

Caught between a centuries-old battle rife with secrets, Evy must learn whom to trust before she risks everything and the wrong history repeats itself. When the heritage her parents have suppressed mingles with the past, Evy must find answers . . .

Which history is the right one? And who is she becoming?

Available for pre-order on Kobo (for all devices) and iTunes, everywhere on May 31, 2013.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

(My Novel) State of Chaos Cover: REVEALED!

It's finally time to unveil the cover for State of Chaos, the second installment in the Collapse Series. So...yeah. 
Here it is!
Title: State of Chaos, Collapse Series #2
Author: Summer Lane 
Genre: Romantic Adventure
Category: New Adult/Young Adult 
Release Date: June 28th, 2013
Cassidy Hart has had better days.
Her dad is missing. Her friends have been captured. And modern society is pretty much gone, thanks to an EMP that destroyed the technological infrastructure of the United States.
Surviving in the foothills of California is a challenge, but with the help of former Navy SEAL Chris Young, Cassidy's been able to stay alive.
Until now. Omega, the shadow army arisen from the chaos, won't stop until every single survivor is either under their control or dead. Taken by soldiers and forced into a labor camp, Cassidy must turn the tables on her captors. Escape means everything. Unfortunately, staying out of Omega's crosshairs is easier said than done.
You can run.
But you can't hide.
Cassidy's about to learn that the hard way.
Release day is getting closer all the time - and I can't wait for you guys to read this installment! Thanks for being so supportive of Cassidy Hart (and me), and feel free to add State of Chaos to your To-Be-Read Shelf on GoodReads and like the Collapse Series on Facebook!  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hey. Inspiration is for amateurs. (I've said this before)

Inspiration is for amateurs.  Don’t get offended. Don’t start a campaign against me. Just listen. All books start out with a spark of inspiration, right? An idea. The shred of a creative thought that eventually turns out to be the great American novel. That’s fine. That’s how I started writing State of Emergency: Inspiration.
But what comes after inspiration?
After the initial burst of energy hits you, then what? Do you pop the footrest out on your Lazy Boy and watch The Voice? Read another How to Write a Novel manual – because you’ve already read thirty-three this year and it still wasn’t enough? Motivate yourself with epic background music?
Whatever you do, keep this in mind: inspiration is for amateurs. If you wait for your muse to come to you, it’s quite possible that you will spend the next ten to twenty years sitting on your couch with an empty bag of potato chips, staring at the ceiling.
Hmm. Was that crack there before? What about that water damage?
Never noticed it until now.

Don’t be a bump on a log. Get up. Inspiration, in many cases, will only last so long before it wears out. The long days and months – sometimes years – of creating a novel can be draining. Discouraging. By the time you get to that point, believe me, you’ll want to give up. It’s only natural. Because hey, if writing were easy, everybody would have penned a hit novel by now. But not everybody does. In fact, few people ever do. And the people that do usually have a lot of self-discipline and a lot of focus. Don’t wait for inspiration to get you through the dog days of editing and rewriting. When you’re looking at the 95th typo of YOUR vs YOU’RE, inspiration is going to seem far, far away. Something that keeps my business and writing in line is clear structure (which I’ve talked about before), but also, a schedule.
You’re a writer. You’re a business. Act like one.

·      Get Writing. Let’s face it. As writers, we work in the business of words. We arrange them, play with them, and set them up to convey different meanings to different audiences. Words are to us what paint is to an artist. Without them, you have no product to sell, so you need to make sure that the bulk of your focus goes into writing those words. Set aside at least three hours a day for what I like to call Raw Content Creation. I do mine in the early morning hours of the day. It’s quietest then, and I do my best work in silence.
Structure yourself. If you have a routine, you’d be surprised at how quickly you can control inspiration, rather than the other way around. Inspiration will start answering your call if it expects you to be in a certain place at a certain time. Work schedules are all about routine, so make your business the same. Have a schedule and stick to it. Faithfully. That means every day. No shirking your duties, sailor.
·      Always improve. Honestly, I don’t edit the stuff I wrote all on the same day. I edit the previous day’s work and only focus on being free and creative with today’s writing. Taking a step back from the stuff you write today and correcting it tomorrow will allow you to see it with renewed clarity. Give yourself a break. I have a lot of other work that I do in between all this, which also allows me space between my writing and me.
·      Inspiration is for amateurs, but don’t waste a diamond. The purpose of a schedule and structure is to keep yourself disciplined in a very challenging and often discouraging line of work (just remember that the pros outweigh cons, people!). At the same time, you don’t want to waste inspiration when it does decide to pay you a random visit outside of your schedule. If that’s the case, catch a shooting star and put it in your pocket, as they say. Maybe that’s the little nugget you’ve needed to put the finishing touches on your story.
·      Stay focused. I’m good at multitasking. I can cook dinner, check Facebook, write my novel, edit a travel article, correspond with an interviewer, read the paper and clean up spilt milk on the kitchen floor all at the same time. Or something close to that. But you know what? Multitasking isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. When you’re spreading out your efforts, something is going to suffer. Effort is often more effective when it is concentrated to a single area. Multi-tasking just allows you to do lots of things less effectively rather than doing one thing fantastically. Just remember that next time you feel the need to speed-dial your BFF and discuss celebrity gossip while you’re editing your manuscript. It’s not worth it. It’s really not.

A professional will work in rain or shine. A professional will show up to work even if he doesn’t want to. Show up to work. Every day. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time off, but remember: it’s harder to get into a routine than it is to get out of it, so make sure you don’t stray from the path. Keep your goals firmly in mind. Go out and grab them. Make them yours.
That’s the American dream, after all. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Warm Bodies (New Adult Zombie Novel)

R is dead. He's a zombie. Things in his world are pretty much seen in different shades of gray, and there's no meaning to life because, well, he's dead. Awkward, I know. But then R meets Julie, a pretty, feisty human girl, and suddenly everything starts changing. But R's not the only zombie feeling undead growing pains - the world is about to join in. 

Warm Bodies is as much of a look at the intricacies of human nature as it is a romance. R is a zombie, and he begins his narrative as a flesh-eating, shuffling, pale-skinned creature that enjoys chomping on brains during snack time. But even then, his mental vocabulary and powers of description are stunning - the only thing he seems to have trouble with is his external dialogue. He meets Julie, and he falls in love with her after eating the brain (yes, really) of her boyfriend. Apparently eating people's brains gives you their memories, and R sees Julie's entire life. He knows everything about her - kind of. And their relationship really DOES progress at a nice, easy pace. R goes through an impressive period of character growth. As he slowly begins to FEEL things again, you feel them, too, through his zombie lens, which is really quite interesting. I don't know that any other author has really told a story from such a perspective. It's certainly unique. 
Warm Bodies is also just as depressing as it is fascinating. Death, doom, destruction, blood, gore, squished brains, drinking, you name it. I know that Julie is supposed to be the light of R's world - the reason he starts to change, but honestly, she wasn't my ideal heroine. She cussed way too much, for one thing. I get it. People swear. They swear in real life and they swear in books, but Julie's language was totally unnecessary. Is it so much to ask for a leading lady that is actually that: a LADY? Apparently so. I didn't have sympathy for her. I had sympathy for R. I felt like R could have found a much nicer girl to fall in love with. I mean, if you're going base the entire reversal of the zombie virus on the goodness of human nature, it shouldn't be coming from a foul-mouthed, hard drinking, loose cannon. It's not the character that bothers me - it's the premise that goodness and light is coming out of JULIE, when Julie is about as pure as a mud puddle. Just saying. 
I'm having a really hard time buying it. Good should be good and bad should be bad.

In conclusion, Warm Bodies is a unique book. It's gruesome and chilling. It's also depressingly poetic. Isaac Marion has a beautiful way with words. But it's not the kind of book I'd want my child to be reading - it's way too graphic for that. In fact, it's probably too graphic for me. 

Pardon me while I go detox my brain...if a zombie doesn't eat it first. 
That could be nasty.

Friday, May 17, 2013

State of Chaos Release Tour Sign-Ups & ARCs!

It's finally sign-up time for the sequel to my novel, State of Emergency. That's right. State of Chaos is almost ready to hit the presses - in both the digital and print realms! It's so exciting to be so close to the release of this sequel. 
Go ahead. Check out the tour stop and ARC opportunities for bloggers and reviewers! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Land of the Unaltered

Rose comes from the capital of the Confederation of Cities where its citizens live in luxury and the greatest fashion statement of all is being Altered.  People change everything about the way they look as often as they do their hairstyle but Rose is different.  Her position of privilege has made her an outcast and led her to suspect that something sinister is happening to the citizens and flees the capital along with a past that imprisons her in search of a fresh start in the Land of the Unaltered.
Flynn lives in the Land of the Unaltered and hates the capitol and everything it stands for.  So when a spoiled capital girl is assigned to work with him, he wants nothing to do with her and is prepared to make her life miserable.  But Flynn was not prepared for someone like Rose.  She doesn’t fit the mold he expected and finds himself strongly attracted to her.  As she continues to surprise and outwit him, they begin to forge a bond that is tested when they discover a secret that could change everything they know about Land of the Unaltered.

Land of the Unaltered is a Dystopian Romance and is the first installment of the Confederation Trilogy.

Available June 18th!
Connect with Leti Del Mar:

Friday, May 10, 2013

It's All About Image: How to Market Your Novel

Stand on the nearest street corner and try to sell a rock to everybody who passes by. 
Good luck with that. Who wants to buy a rock? Well, maybe you remember when there was a "pet rock" craze in this fair country of ours. Everybody was buying their own pet rocks, taking them home, painting them, putting them in a hamster cage. Walking their rocks. (I don't know who came up that idea. Somebody help them, please.)
It was quite a fad for a while. And let's face it, it had nothing to do with the rock. It had everything to do with the way it was marketed. Under normal circumstances, no (halfway) sane person will pay five bucks for a rock that they could pick up on the side of the highway for free. But if you know how to market that rock, you just might be a millionaire tomorrow. 
But let's forget the rocks. 
Let's talk about novels. 
Marketing a novel can sometimes feel like trying to get people to buy a rock. There are millions already on the market, and honestly, how are you going to convince people to drop a couple of bucks for yours? What makes your book better than anybody else's? Well, once you answer this question, you'll have the beginning of a comprehensive marketing plan. Like so: 

  • Ask yourself, "What makes my book unique?" Don't turn into an egomaniac over it. Just ask yourself this honest question. What makes your book different than all the rest? Is it the story? The characters? The research? Your voice? Find the element that is yours alone and write it down. 
  • Look ahead. It can be helpful to see what kinds of books have sold in the past, but it can also be detrimental. Remember that the publishing industry literally shifts every few hours, and peoples' tastes and preferences are changing with it. Find a surefire genre or category you believe in and write the story that you want to write. 
  • Don't cram your story into a mold. Did anybody ever tell you that following the crowd isn't a smart thing to do? Maybe they did. Maybe they didn't. I'm here to tell you it's not. If you have a story that's historical but science-fiction is what's selling right now, don't sacrifice the dignity or original idea of your plot to fit into the market. Remember that the market will come back to you, and if your story is good enough, people will buy your book regardless of categorization. 
  • Don't "go with the flow." Over the years I've seen books change. YA novels have become substantially grittier, and the subject matter is oftentimes X-rated material. I'm not here to preach, but I'm telling you now: Don't put that kind of stuff into your novel just because you want to fit in with everybody else. I'll often read books that have a random sex scene thrown into the story, and it doesn't even fit the mood of the book. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call killing the dignity of your storyline. Keep it real; don't succumb to the pressure. 
  • Stay positive. I don't care if you sold one copy or one thousand copies. You need to stay positive. Nobody wants to be associated with a loser, so don't jump on Twitter and start complaining about lousy book sales. Everything should always  be eternally rosy, regardless of whether or not you feel like doing a happy dance all the time. 
  • Market Yourself. You are as much of a product as your book. Your name as an author is a selling point, so stay professional. No creepy bathroom self portraits off your cellphone. No vulgarity. No political rants. Nobody wants to see that kind of stuff. People these days want to smile and laugh. They want to be impressed. So...impress them. 
Marketing yourself isn't easy. Next week I'll talk about the technical details of marketing your novel, but it's always good to start with a little common sense. Examine your novel and yourself. Get your image together before you start selling your wares, and your chances of success will rise substantially.