Every Wednesday we welcome another author to sit down and chat about his or her books and the writing process. Today's guest is Dani-Lyn Alexander, an author of Young Adult Fiction.
Nice to see you, Dani-Lyn. How do you take your coffee?
DL: With just milk, thank you.
Ally: You're making this so easy. :) Let's get started by showing readers your bio.
Bio: Dani-Lyn Alexander lives on Long Island with her husband, three kids and three dogs. She loves spending time with her family, at the beach, the playground, or just about anywhere. In her spare time, which is rare, she enjoys reading and shopping—especially in book stores. Some of her favorite things include; Bernese Mountain Dogs, musicals, bubble baths and soft blankets. She’s an incurable insomniac and has an addiction to chocolate.
Something unique/unusual about you: In the Harry Potter sorting quiz, I ended up in Hufflepuff. Social Media: Website: http://www.danilynalexander.com
Ally: What made you choose to write YA fiction? Are there unique elements involved that triggered your imagination?
DL: The first book in this series was written for a character I had in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone. I knew he’d be a Death Dealer but little else. Reluctant Prince was written for that character, Jackson Maynard, who turned out to be a nineteen-year-old boy who’d already lived for centuries. I’ve always been a huge fan of YA fantasy and alternate realms.
Ally: Every author struggles with marketing. What is the most successful promo you've tried? What was the least? Do you use swag? How?
DL: I am terrible at marketing. That said, I’ve found twitter to be somewhat helpful, and facebook groups help a little. The best thing I tried was midlist, but they changed it (which figures) lol. I ordered a hundred bookmarks as swag. After sending one to each of my street team members, I put the rest in a cabinet, where they are still taking up space since I have no clue what to do with them. If anyone would like one, just leave a comment or pm me on facebook, I’d be happy to share!
Ally: The best writing advice you ever received.
DL: Just sit down and write your book.
Ally: What are you working on now? Can we expect new releases from you in 2016?
DL: I am writing the third book in the Kingdom of Cymmera series, Battle for Cymmera, which is due to release in November of 2016.
Ally: A few quick answer questions:
Ally: Thanks so much for joining us today! Before you rush off to start writing again, please show us the book you brought today...
- a. one New Year's resolution: Write more. Are you likely to keep it? Probably not, but I’ll try hard.
- b. favorite after five drink: Peach Tranquility Tea.
- c. high heels, sneakers, or sandals: Sneakers
- d. a place you'd love to visit: Rivendell
- e. a favorite animal: Wolf
Hope to see you again soon!
Every Wednesday I bring out my coffee mug and chat with another author about books, the writing process, and ask a few personal questions. Pull up a chair and join us. This week's guest is Caitlin Jones, an author of YA gaslamp fantasy.
Good Morning, Caitlin. What would you like to drink?
CAITLIN: Not a big coffee fan- makes me very jittery when writing. I do enjoy black teas though, particularly Twinings’ English/Irish Breakfast, with a bit of milk and honey. I’m also a fan of Starbucks’ London Fog, with steamed half-and-half.
Ally: We're all about first choices here, so that Twinings is coming up. While I pour, tell readers a little about yourself.
Caitlin E. Jones is an author, freelance editor, and lover of all things Victorian and fantastic. A homeschooled student through most of her young life, she was raised in South Louisiana, where the myths roam wild and the colorful characters roam wilder still. She is currently in pursuit of a degree in History, and is always on the hunt for more stories.
And something unique about her: Expanding upon the “South Louisiana” bit, not only did I grow up in the South, but I grew up on a very rural farm. My childhood was spent around gardens, hay-bails, herds of cattle, chickens, goats, and all manner of other animals. I milked my share of goats and ate my share of dirt by the time I was twelve.
Author contact links:
Ally: Tell us about your paranormal world and the creatures that inhabit it.
CAITLIN: In Chimehour, I developed my paranormal world by drawing very heavily from Irish and English folklore. The story’s plot almost hinges around the Veil, an invisible barrier that separates humans from magical beings. My main character, Stanley Brigham, is the medium between both sides on account of his Second Sight. The creatures were likewise drawn from folklore, ranging everywhere from ghosts to leprechauns. I also adopted some of the more underused creatures from Ireland, such as the dullahan, which I used for one of my favorite side characters in the whole book.
Ally: What or who inspired you to become a writer?
CAITLIN: I can’t really give a specific moment in time when I wanted to become a writer, since I was one of those kids who took printer paper to make picture books and held council with my imaginary friends often. However, I realized that I wanted to tell stories around seven, on a trip to a world’s fair with my Brownie troop. I almost lost my group in the India section because I got caught up listening to this woman they had brought in to tell different versions of fairy tales from India. “You tell wonderful stories,” I told her before leaving, and went home to Google different versions of Cinderella from around the world. Something about all of this stuck in my head, and it’s probably the first time I knew I wanted, not just to write, but to reach people through storytelling.
Ally: How do you choose and name your characters?
CAITLIN: I don’t really choose my characters; I think they choose me sometimes. My writing is a very character-driven process, so I let them talk to me before I try to pick anything. Naming is sometimes a matter of research (at least it was in Chimehour), but also a matter of letting my cast talk. I try to veer away from the overly common and silly-sounding, as neither feel natural enough to me.
Ally: What is your next writing project? Tell us a little about it.
CAITLIN: Well, Chimehour has two sequels that I have drafted and am in process of editing through. They’re different animals from this novel, complete with few new main characters and villains that I cannot wait to share with my readers! I get to take this series to new locations, involve other monsters, and bring Stanley’s internal issues to a real boil. After that though, I’m very eager to start my next big project, which is a steampunk something centered around superheroes. Already geeking out about it.
Ally: Let's get to know you a little better with a few quick-answer questions.
- a. Favorite comfort food: Chinese food.
- b. Have you or will you see the new Star Wars movie?: Saw it twice in theatres. Will be watching again.
- c. Something unusual in your handbag: “Tea with Dragons” perfume.
- d. Favorite color of nail polish: Blue.
- e. Favorite accessory (earrings, scarves, shoes, handbags, etc.): I’m a scarf person, despite my state’s lack of scarf weather. I like scarves.
Ally: Thanks for chatting with us, Caitlin! There's only one thing left to do. :) Tell us about your book, Chimehour...
Hope to see you soon! Thanks for stopping!
Welcome to this week's Coffee Chat!
Paty Jager, a mystery and historical western romance writer, and I will be talking about books, the writing process, marketing, and maybe a few other things. :)
I have my usual black coffee. Paty is drinking mint hot chocolate. Grab your favorite drink, pull up a chair, and join us!
Let's start by taking a look at Paty's author bio.
Ally: Now that we know who you are, let's hear about the mystery you brought with you. Talk about your Native American sleuth, her interesting grandmother, and why you chose these characters. Is this an ongoing series?
PATY: Shandra Higheagle was kept from her Native American Heritage by her step-father and her mother. Her Nez Perce father died in a rodeo accident when Shandra was four. She visited her Nez Perce grandmother once as a teenager and came away knowing she had a connection with her grandmother, even though her parents told her it was an old woman’s tale. When her grandmother dies, Shandra is asked to attend the Seven Drum ceremony after the funeral. At the ceremony she feels her grandmother, and then as Shandra becomes embroiled in a murder, her grandmother comes to her in dreams showing her clues to solve the murder.
I have always had a fascination with Native Americans, particularly the Nez Perce. Before the white man came west, the Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce summered and wintered in the county in Oregon where I grew up. I’ve always felt they should have more of a presence in the county. They do now, holding powwows and setting up cultural centers. But it wasn’t always that way. I could go on and on about the Wallowa Nez Perce. Shandra’s roots are in this band who resides on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State.
And to answer the question of is this an ongoing series? Yes! I have four books out in this series, three more to be released in 2016 and at least that many more ideas jotted down.
Ally: How long does it take you to write a book from first concept to submission to publisher/editor? How much revision/rewriting do you do prior to submission?
PATY: I would say three months. I am a self-publishing author. It usually takes me a couple of months with life interruptions to write a book. But if I don’t have interruptions I can write a book in a month. Once I’m happy with the manuscript, I send it to my critique partners who then make comments. I get it back, go through it working in their suggestions or thoughts, then I send it off to two beta readers. When it comes back from them if they have valid comments, I fix those and then I go through it with an editor’s eye (I was an editor for a small press for several years), then I send it off to a proof reader and a copy editor. When it comes back I fix anything they found wrong, go through it one more time looking for errors. When it is as perfect as I can get it, then I format the document for the various ebook vendors and a print book. After that I upload the files to the appropriate vendors. I’m also part of an author cooperative, Windtree Press, I upload books to be sold from their website as well.
Ally: What new writing project will keep you busy the next few months?
PATY: At the moment I am starting a new historical western romance series called Letters of Fate. The hero receives a letter that changes the course of his life and brings him in contact with the heroine who steals his heart.
After that is finished, I’ll be writing the next Shandra book. I’m still tossing around titles but it will be set partly at a New Mexico art show with her current love interest, Ryan Greer a Weippe County Detective, suspected of killing Shandra’s ex-lover.
Ally: Since all of us are also in the marketing business, what are your favorite methods? What's the most unique thing you've tried?
PATY: I like to blog and do FB parties. They are the most fun and get me the most exposure without costing a lot of money. I like to make unique swag. I make a beaded book thong that is different and relates to the book for each book I make in print. For one reader conference I made ereader covers with my website stitched on the inside. I really need to make more of those…
Ally: One last thing, before we show readers your book: a few quick answer questions.
Ally: It's been a pleasure meeting you, Paty. I hope you'll be back to tell us about Shandra's future adventures. In the meantime, we better get caught up on the series...
- a. favorite color of nail polish - Purple
- b. last song you played on any media – Close Your Eyes by Meghan Tranor
- c. a book you've read more than once and would read again – Nora Roberts; Born of Fire, Born of Ice, Born of Shame
- d. an item on your bucket list – visiting all 50 of the U.S. States
- e. a famous fictional character you'd love to meet: Mrs. Polifax (Ally comment: Oh, my, wouldn't that be a lively time!)
Thanks for visiting today. I hope you come back soon...
Welcome, Booklovers, to the first Coffee Chat of 2016!
This week's guest is mystery writer, Marilyn Meredith, with her latest book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.
Welcome, Marilyn. What may I fix you to drink?
MARILYN: I drink Chai latte that I make in my Keurig.
Ally: Coming right up! Please show readers your bio, while I pour.
Marilyn Meredith is the author of many published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Not as it Seems from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is Violent Departures, from Oak Tree Press. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/
Something unusual about Marilyn: "I’ve written all my life, but my first novel wasn’t published until after I was a grandmother." Author contact links:
Facebook: Marilyn Meredith
Ally: What inspired you to write the Tempe Crabtree series?
MARILYN: Because we live near an Indian reservation I though having a female resident deputy who was Native American would be something different that I’d enjoy writing about. I became friends with a young woman who grew up on the reservation, a female resident deputy, and went on a ride-along with the only female police officer in a nearby town. Parts of these three women and their lives came together to become Tempe.
Ally: What are future plans for the series? Do you already have other books outlined? Is there a set number of books planned or what will determine the end of the series?
MARILYN: I don’t have a set plan about the future of the series. I don’t outline, I get an idea for the next book, often when I’m writing the latest. More ideas flow and I keep notes. Often I’ll have to do research about some aspect of what I plan to write. No, I don’t have a set number of books planned. I suspect I’ll continue writing about Tempe until I am no longer able to write.
Ally: What is your current writing project?
MARILYN: I am working on the next Tempe Crabtree mystery right now. The title is Seldom Traveled.
Ally: If you couldn't live in California, where would you like to live and why?
MARILYN: I can’t imagine living anywhere but California because nearly all my family lives here. I’ve lived for short periods in Virginia and Maryland when my husband was in the Navy.
I grew up in Los Angeles, lived for over twenty years in Oxnard, and we’ve been in the foothills of the Southern Sierra since 1951. If I absolutely had to move, it would be to Nevada or Arizona so I’d still be close enough to spend time with my family.
Ally: Let's try a few quick answer questions.
Ally: It's always a pleasure to chat with you, Marilyn. Keep the books coming, and I hope you'll visit again. Please show readers Tempe's latest adventure--number fourteen, I believe...
- a. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I never make New Year’s resolutions.
- b. A favorite comfort food? Chocolate of any kind.
- c. Perfect vacations: mountains or beach? I live in the mountains, so beach, preferably the central coast.
- d. Favorite color? Any shade of blue.
- e. A movie you’ve watched several times? Gone With the Wind
Thanks for joining us for coffee! I hope to see you next week.