Tag Archives: writer interview

Interview with a Writer: Kelsey Atkins

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

Today, I’m introducing Kelsey Atkins onto the blog! Kelsey is one of my CP’s, and her feedback on my work has been so helpful! I’m excited to share Kelsey’s story!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

I started to enjoy writing at a very young age. I’ve always kept a journal and even wrote a few short stories when I was in middle school, but I didn’t start seriously writing until I was out of college. Writing was never something I thought about doing until I had a story to write. As soon as that first story planted itself in my brain and demanded to be written, I began my official writing journey and have been at it ever since.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

As cliché as it sounds, I get my best ideas from dreams. Occasionally an idea will randomly pop into my head or develop from something I saw or heard, but the best ideas come from my subconscious.

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

My current project is a dystopian novel set in a fantasy world. This is my first dystopian, but I stayed near my comfort zone by adding a fantasy element. I can’t remember where the idea originally came from, but I do remember it started out more as a feeling than an overall idea. I tried to write a different story before I chose to work on this one, but it kept tugging at the back of my mind, begging to be written, so that’s where my focus currently lies.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

My first book was traditionally published and I will continue to seek that route for my future novels. This is such a personal choice for each writer and for me it came down to needing to have someone in the industry believe in my work. I also wanted the support a traditional publisher provides as well as help navigating my way through marketing and book signings. The financial support is a huge bonus too!

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

“There are no rules for writing. Find what works for you and stick with it!”

I really struggled to complete my first book because I thought I had to write it linearly from beginning to end. I thought I had to have an outline and do my best to stick to it. When I finally let go of all that, writing came so much easier. It took me five years to write my first book, but after I developed a process that worked for me, it only took me four months to write my second novel and eight weeks to write my third (thanks to Camp Nano and awesome cabin mates).

#6: When are you most creative?

My creativity hits whenever it’s inconvenient such as in the shower or while I’m driving. One of these days I’ll need to invest in a voice recorder and waterproof notepad, but until then I’ll continue jumping out of the shower with soapy hair, pulling over on the side of the road, or trying to convince myself I can remember whatever great idea popped into my mind.

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

Honestly, the authors who inspire me the most are those in the writing community who have yet to be published or have just started their publishing journey. The journey is LONG and hard and exhausting. It would be so much easier to give up after the first ten rejection letters and even easier to give up after the next twenty, thirty, or however many may come. It is so inspiring to see the writers who believe in themselves and their work keep fighting every day to make their dreams a reality. Persevering through the criticism and the let downs is so hard and takes an immeasurable amount of strength. Those who fight the good fight every day inspire me the most!

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

I don’t often read new releases so I couldn’t even tell you what’s coming out in the next few months, but I can tell you I am really looking forward to Sarah J. Maas’s new book!

#9: What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m working my way through several beta reads but am also reading Tower of Dawn which is taking me much longer to get through than the other books in the series.

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

This question is almost impossible. One of my all-time favorite series is The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, but there are several close seconds including A Court of Thorns and Roses, The Tiger’s Curse, and of course Harry Potter!

#11: Favorite childhood book?

The first book I remember really enjoying growing up was The Golden Compass by Philip Paullman. In high school, my favorite series was Harry Potter!

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Love triangles are geometric romances from hell! I never have and never will enjoy them. Reading one is the equivalent to nails on a chalkboard for me which is funny because several of my favorite books have at least one written into the story somewhere.

#13: What book has made you cry?

I know there are plenty that have made me cry, but the only ones I can think of off the top of my head are The Shack and Where the Red Fern Grows. I try to stay away from books that will make me cry, but it doesn’t take much to elicit an emotion response from me, so I tend to cry at some point in most of the stories I read.

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

I’m not a huge snack eater when I’m writing because I don’t like to stop writing to take bites. I do enjoy having coffee or iced tea while writing and I usually reward myself with chocolate or a milkshake after a good writing spree.

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

My biggest fear has always been drowning! I don’t have a lot of fears associated with writing because it’s something I truly love and enjoy doing, but I do get nervous when I share my work with others.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

Most of my time is taken up by a rambunctious five-year-old, but when I have some free time to myself, I like to read, listen to music, color, crochet, and play Final Fantasy (my guilty pleasure).

#17: Biggest real-life pet peeve?

Mean people! I can’t stand it when people treat others with anything other than kindness. We all have bad days and rough lives; it doesn’t give anyone the excuse to take it out on someone else. Mean people are especially frustrating in the writing world. I’ve seen far too many unfair negative reviews of books simply because someone was upset about something that had nothing to do with the story.

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

Keep doing what you love and never give up! The best part about writing your own story is that it can be anything you want it to be. Take the critiques, listen to advice from those you trust, but never compromise who you are or the heart of your story!


All About Kelsey

WSYOawJN.jpgKelsey Atkins is an elementary and middle school teacher who loves to write. Her work with young adults in the classroom inspired her to write the Finding the Light series. Kelsey grew up in a small town in Idaho where she grew to love the outdoors. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, son, and fluffy Samoyed. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, hiking, and volunteering at church.

Follow Kelsey!

Twitter: @AtkinsAuthor

 

 

Interview with a Writer: Mea Smith

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

Today, I’m introducing Mea Smith onto the blog, and I’m so excited to share her story!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

My story is nontraditional, and sometimes, I feel a bit like an imposter in the author world because of it. I want to tell you that I was a voracious reader from birth, that I was a fearless child who wrote her first novel at 12-years-old, and I still have it somewhere in a box. But, that’s not how it all started for me, and to be honest, when I’m not writing fiction, I’m a terrible liar.

The truth is I was too fearful to even consider writing as more than a secret, though I loved doing it. All my poetry, songs, and stories from middle school to college remained in the shadows, growing mold and becoming earth. Four years after I graduated, I’d stagnated in my search for a career, and I was plagued by Life Things.

But in 2009, my husband had a terrible staph infection and needed to have our double bed to himself for about two weeks. I took to the couch with a grumbly attitude and a copy of Twilight. A few late-night readings later, I’d finished the series and discovered solace through literary escapism. The Twilight series housed the first books I’d read for pleasure since college. The experience made me think, I want to mold people’s emotions, give those who need it a place to breath, and get lost in a world of my own making. I will always be thankful for the series because it was the original spark that ignited my personal reading/writing/learning wildfire.

I began to broaden my reading and research writing a novel. A few months later, I typed out “chapter one”, and then the real learning began. I’m proof that one can learn to love reading as an adult and that reading can, quite literally, change the path of your life.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

Mostly, in places where it would be tactless to jot down the idea. In the middle of conversations, meals, dates, work meetings, etc. I’ve gotten very sneaky about jetting off to the bathroom or something and recording quick notes in my phone or notebook. I just recently had an idea for a book today because of spam email. I also get ideas just letting my mind wander. Those are my favorite because I can give flesh to the bones almost immediately.

I guess the main thing is to be observant and to be prepared with a pen/notebook combo or note-taking technology.

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

I’m working on a few of projects this summer. First, a women’s fiction novel that started as a scene in a coffeeshop (that has since been cut from the book). Husband and I were sitting around, chilling, and it just popped in my head. Couldn’t be helped. Next, I’m working on a poetry and art project. I adore poetry and painting, and the opportunity came to make both and to work with a super cool lady, so I said, “Yes!” Finally, I’m co-authoring a nonfiction born from a need discovered on this crazy cool trip toward publication.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

I’d like to be a hybrid author. I’m going to query agents for the novel I’m working on now. The nonfiction will be with a small press, Logos & Mythos Press, and I’m considering self-publishing my poetry. The publishing world is so interesting right now with all the viable options to get your words into the world. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into one outlet because of a stereotype or lack of vision. I’ll try to pursue all options—I say “try” because it’s not up to me in all avenues—and create my own opinion for future works.

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

“Whether or not you write well, write bravely” Bill Stout.
Writing/Life tip: “It takes the same amount of effort to be brave as it does to be afraid.” Maggie Stiefvater

I did most of writing craft learning online and through books and podcasts. These are still my main learning methods because of my responsibilities in this period of life, so I don’t have a lot of face-to-face… Wait! I got one “’There’ as a subject is useless. I can’t believe it exists in that context. Sentences will always be stronger without it.” Allison Chestnut, English professor at William Carey University.

#6: When are you most creative?

When I’m brainstorming and during revision

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

Today I’m enamored with Maggie Stiefvater, Neil Gaiman, Tahereh Mafi, Christina Lauren, and Patrick Ness, to name a few.

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

Here’s my reading tablet list (though it might take me more than a few months to finish and also I choose by mood):

The Madness Vase – Andrea Gibson (Poetry)
Behold the Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue
UnHoneymooners – Christina Lauren
Dear Martin – Nic Stone
What the Wind Knows – Amy Harmon
Body Love – Kelly LeVegue
And I’m waiting for Call Down the Hawk -Maggie Steifvater (New Release)

#9: What are you currently reading?

The Social Tutor by Sally Britton

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

Again, “favorites” fluctuate, sometimes, so…

Scorpio Races and All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Steifvater
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell

#11: Favorite childhood book?

Fair-Weather Love by Carla Cassidy (My aunt gave it to my as a Christmas present. I reread it so much that I swear my mom hid it. Or threw it away or something.)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (The best school assigned reading EVER.)

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Physically: Price stickers on the covers that leave residue
Internally: Illogical plot points. Once I’ve noticed them, it’s hard for me to suspend my beliefs and adore the characters again.

#13: What book has made you cry?

The last book that made me cry was 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne because love is difficult sometimes.

But the one that made me sob and wonder “why, oh why, did I do this to myself?” was My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. There was no need to **spoiler alert** and make me feel like that, Jodi. (If you only saw the movie, you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

Cold coffee with almond milk. The best way to answers is to list things I don’t eat. Raw Onion.

Next question!

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

William Carey, who has also been called the “father of modern missions”, said, “…I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

This is my fear, too. I think embracing it has pushed me to truly begin writing for a career.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

Painting, jewelry making, and aggravating my kids

#17: Biggest real-life pet peeve?

People who mouth the words I’m saying while I’m speaking to them. Believe me; it’s not as uncommon as you think.

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

If you’re scared to write or hardcore procrastinating, work to completion on a short project (flash fiction, short story, poetry chapbook, for example) and feel what it’s like to Finish Something. Then, learn something from it, and make something else.


All About Mea

meaMeagan (Mea) Smith lives in a wooden house on a hill where she trips over a multitude of cats while parenting her two rambunctious boys. When she mentally floats too far from home, her cherished husband ushers her back and then grills her chicken for dinner. She has a Master’s in English and sometimes scares college students with her passion for semicolons; she fell for their cunning in high school.

Mea believes love doesn’t deter hateful things from happening, but it always conquers them. Because of this, she creates fictional content tinted with hope set in contemporary and/or fantastical places. Her nonfiction focuses on writing craft for authors delivered with kindness and honesty. Her poetry is based on a true story. Always.

You can find Mea on her back porch watching fireflies flicker or on the Internet.

Follow Mea on all her socials!

Website: measmith.com
Instagram: @measmithwrites
Facebook: @meathewriter
Twitter: @mea_smith

 

Interview with a Writer: Madeline Johnston

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my new blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

Today, I’m introducing Madeline Johnston onto the blog! Madeline and I have quickly become friends, and she is one of the sweetest people I know! I had the chance to read the first chapter of her WIP, and it was amazing! I’m so excited to hear what Madeline has to say today!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

Way back in 2005 and 2006, I was obsessed with “The Sims 2”. But it wasn’t about gaming for me, it was about the added feature of being able to create your own stories and upload them to the official website. Thousands of writers uploaded their stories, and me being eleven at the time, wanted to be exactly like them. I ended up writing a story about a teenage girl who could see ghosts at an abandoned train station — don’t you love the mind of an eleven year old?

But what made me want to become an author? Hands down reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare when it first came out. All those disorganized stories as an eleven year old slowly became more book-like over the years since!

#2. Where do you usually get your ideas?

Everywhere! I’m constantly refueling my well of creativity with television series, books, movies, anime, music, Pinterest, etc. A trope may catch my eye, like enemies to lovers for example, and I slowly create a story idea around that.

#3. What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

I’m currently working on a YA Space Fantasy about magic in space, angry girls overthrowing evil galactic empires, and an enemies to lovers’ romance.

I’ve always wanted to write a book that blends two genres together (science fiction and fantasy), and I’ve never written enemies to lovers before. With these two ideas in mind, I slowly began creating a story around them.

#4. Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursed and why?

The ultimate dream is to traditionally publish — whether it’s my current book, the one after, or the one after that. But every book I write is going to put me one step closer to one day seeing my book in a bookstore.

#5. What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Honestly, this quote changed my life and I will share it forever: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” — Shannon Hale.

I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to get our book right the first time. I wrote many first drafts and never went back to them because they weren’t how I initially envisioned them. But since being in the writing community and seeing that quote, I’ve learnt that most of writing is rewriting, and the first draft is only the first step of getting something “book-shaped” to work with.

#6. When are you most creative?

Early hours of the morning or late afternoons. I wish that I could be one those writers who stay up late, writing into the night. But I need sleep otherwise I can’t properly function haha.

#7. What authors inspire you most?

Cassandra Clare was the author that inspired me to become an author. But Jay Kristoff, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, V. E. Schwab, Amanda Foody and Julie C. Dao are also some of my biggest inspirations.

#8. What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

I am super excited to read King of Fools by Amanda Foody, Wicked Fox by Kat Cho and There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool.

#9. What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and it was a very dark, magical read! I’ve just started reading The Devouring Grey by Christine Lyn Herman and the writing is beautifully descriptive!

#10. What’s your favorite book or book series?

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare is one my all-time favorites, as well as the entire Mortal Instruments series. I’m also obsessed with Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao and The Wicked King by Holly Black.

#11. Favorite childhood book?

My favorite books to read growing up were the Pony Pals series. From what I remember, you didn’t have to read them in any particular order and I borrowed them from my school’s library all the time. Once I hit high school, anything with vampires and werewolves grabbed my attention. Thanks, Twilight!

#12. Biggest book pet peeve?

When the book forces together two characters that have no real chemistry — or forces them together too quickly without the excitement of the buildup. Give me slow burn romances any day!

#13. What book has made you cry?

Can I just say that I weep with total happiness/anger/sadness whenever I read a Cassandra Clare book?

#14. Favorite writing snack or drink?

I’m the absolute worst and spend most of my writing time eating chocolate or cookies or both. I quite literally put on like 10kg whenever I write a book, oops. But they are just so delicious and my self-control is very minimal and, guys, life is too short.

#15. What your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise — or both!

I sometimes worry that no one out there will like my book or even understand it. After putting so much passion into this project, what if the only person who likes it is just me?

Also birds. Birds are terrifying.

#16. What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I read a lot. I also love baking all types of chocolate-y treats. I really want to get more into kick-boxing, but I’m a sloth at heart and much rather curl up into a ball on the couch and watch Netflix with my cats.

#17. Biggest real life pet peeve?

People who are always late to meet-ups, they drive me nuts!

#18. Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

It is always important to remember why you started writing in the first place. Writing a book is such a complicated, stressful journey — you’ll want to quit, you’ll want to give up. But thinking back to your why can help reignite your passion and put things back into perspective.


All About Madeline

Madeline

Madeline is a marketing coordinator by day, an aspiring author by night and a full-time mama of three adorable rescue kitties. She writes books about angry and scheming girls, monstrous boys, dark settings, found families full of misfits and lots of magic.

When she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend her spare time baking, watching Star Wars or Star Trek, eating too much chocolate (it’s a serious problem), screaming over anime and listening to music way too loud. Her hero is Jay Kristoff.

You can follow Madeline on her blog and on Twitter!

Interview with a Writer: Joy E. Rancatore

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my new blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

So today, I’m introducing Joy E. Rancatore onto the blog! Joy and I met last year and we’ve worked together as CP’s and friends on both of our WIP’s! Joy’s advice and critiques have been invaluable to me, and she is one of the sweetest people I know! I am so excited to share Joy’s story today!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

Stories have been part of my life since birth, really. I knew from an early age I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first event article when I was still in single digits and began my newspaper career at age 16. It took me a little longer to overcome all the fear and doubt that accompanies the pursuit of book publication. I had a few stops and starts on that path over the years, but 2016 was the year I finally beat Self-Doubt and haven’t looked back since.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

That’s a tough one! It can be in a cypress knee peeking up out of a bayou, a funny thing one of my children says, a news article that makes me ask “What if?” or a stranger’s eyes. Other times, it’s just the voices in my head whispering me a tale.

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

Currently, I’m preparing for the launch of my debut novel, Any Good Thing, in September. I’m not just waiting idly, though! Accompanying this novel, I have plans for a novella, a short story collection and—perhaps—an epistolary. I’m revising the novella now and compiling some stories for the collection. These could be classified as contemporary southern literary fiction with religious themes.

The initial inspiration for this novel was a news story. One of the incidents in my main character’s life was directly influenced by a real-life tragedy. While that event was altered quite a bit for my novel, it launched me on an exploration of what would happen if a young kid who had made some mistakes in the past but was trying to get it together suddenly found himself the cause of a child’s death. What would happen to him? Could he survive under the weight of his guilt?

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

I chose to go the Indie route. When I dreamed of becoming an author, I always pictured the big publishers and trips to New York and royalty checks. But, as I started working toward achieving my dreams, I just knew I wanted to publish my own work. I like the idea of maintaining control over all the decisions, including titles and covers and all that jazz. Also, as I was thinking through those details, I realized every job I’ve ever had has prepared me to wear the many hats required for an independent publisher. I also wanted to leave a legacy for my kids in a tangible way through a business, and that is why I launched Logos & Mythos Press. It’s through this company that I will publish my books, including those I co-author, continue my editing services and podcast and—down the road—publish other authors’ works.

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Just write!

I know that sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s often the procrastination or the fear of writing or the over-thinking about the writing that keeps us from reaching our full potential. Feeling unqualified, like every word is too simple and getting you nowhere? Just write! Unsure about the current story you’re working on? Write it out! Cannot for the life of you determine why your character’s doing these crazy things? Write about him!

#6: When are you most creative?

I am definitely a night owl. 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. is my ideal writing time. Mornings were made for sleeping and sipping coffee, right?

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite author of all time. He’s also why I swore I’d never write fantasy. I mean, he perfected it, so why would I even try? Fast-forward to now, and I have a published fantasy short story which will be part of a much-larger series I’m currently world-building. What can I say? The faeries wouldn’t stop whispering in my ear.

It’s hard to narrow my list of author influences down after him. I’m sure I’ll forget someone, but I’ll give it a try! Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Brontes, Beatrix Potter, C.S. Lewis, Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare, to name a few of the usual suspects. And, I have to add my critique partners to that list—Devon, Tauri Cox, Kelsey Atkins and Mea Smith! They inspire me every day!

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

Oh wow!! With so many amazing books coming out this year, I’m not even going to try to narrow the new releases down! There are two classics on my list that I have somehow never read that I’ve decided I will read before the end of this year—Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

#9: What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading The Clearing by Tim Gautreaux. He is a great writer of southern fiction. This book is set under the dark shadow of the mob’s influence around a sawmill in the bayous of Louisiana.

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

My three (actually, four, because I can’t decide between the last two for third place) favorite books of all time are The Silmarrillion (and all of Tolkien’s works), Quo Vadis? by Henryk Sienkiewicz, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

#11: Favorite childhood book?

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I have always loved horses; whether that love was sparked by or fueled by this book, I’m not sure.

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Lack of editing and a lack of depth to the story and characters.

#13: What book has made you cry?

Every book by Nicholas Sparks. Seriously, Nick, you owe me a case of tissues.

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

Hmmm … this might be the hardest question yet, because Devon can tell you I’m all about the snacks! Chocolate is a given, usually as little bite-sized candies of some type. Brownies are even better—the gooey-er, the better! My favorite salty snack is probably tangy pickle BBQ chips—I was skeptical at first, too, but they are ah-MAZ-ing! Drinks vary depending on if I’m writing, revising or editing. Usually strong black coffee or hot tea of some sort with the occasional red wine or Scotch.

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

This may sound strange, but my biggest writing-related fear used to be success. It took me a few years and stops and starts, but I’ve been able to move past most of my fears. That’s not to say they don’t sometimes pop up, usually at the worst moments, but they don’t control me any more.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I love photography and reading. Long, long ago, I was a terrible golfer and tennis player. I doubt my lack of practice has helped!

#17: Biggest real life pet peeve?

People who don’t put up their shopping carts. If I can push a cart into the cart holder thingie (seriously, what are they called??) through the pouring rain with a baby strapped to me and a toddler’s hand in mine, no one else has an excuse.

Man, that felt good to get off my chest!

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

Surround yourself with positive, encouraging, real, honest people. Listen to them; learn from them; and grow with them.


All About Joy

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Joy E. Rancatore began early as a writer and reader (which came first is a bit hazy). She entered the professional writing world at age sixteen with a small-town weekly newspaper where the editor consistently ran her byline as Joe E. A double major in Journalism and English offered a choice— pursue her dream to be an author or actually make money with words. She chose money. She wrote for a total of five newspapers before joining the dark side of public relations. After the birth of her first child, Joy freelanced for magazines, businesses and fellow writers as a writer, editor and proofreader. After battling Doubt for nearly a decade, she broke free to run toward her dream of authorship. She writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between. When she’s not doing horrible things to her characters or dreaming up faery creatures and fantastic weapons, she beats her husband at card games, homeschools her two children, snuggles with her two stinky dogs and lets her cat, Tolkien, do whatever he wants. They’d prefer to live in Middle-earth or Narnia or Hogwarts or in a galaxy far, far away; but, for now, they live across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans.

Joy’s Top Five Writing Facts:

5. Joy’s primary editor is her cat, Tolkien. He hopes one day she’ll improve. Any improvement, however small, would be grand in his estimation.

4. Both of Joy’s children learned to write with the same fat Snoopy pencil she did.

3. Joy won Camp NaNo her first time out. She began the challenge with just over 30,000 words and ended the month just past 95,000. That is how her first literary fiction novel was birthed.

2. One of Joy’s short stories, “Ealiverel Awakened,” won second place in a competition. Her work, along with many others’, will appear in an Adventure SciFi and Fantasy anthology edited by Rachael Ritchey. Proceeds will benefit Compassion International. This story will one day be part of a much larger fantasy series of books she is currently world-building.

1. Her biggest writing accomplishment to date remains penning the cover story for the August 2003 issue of Leatherneck, Magazine of the Marines. It featured her brother.

You can follow Joy on her blog and on Twitter!

Interview with a Writer: Tauri Cox

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my new blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

So today, I’m introducing Tauri Cox onto the blog! Tauri and I met last year and become fast friends and critique partners. I am so excited to share what she has to say about her life as a writer, the advice she has to new writers, and what her publishing goals are!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

I’ve been experimenting with writing for as long as I can remember: short stories, creative writing classes, etc. But I didn’t pursue it – or even consider it – seriously until my senior year of college. I had gone in as a pre-med student. Then quickly learned I sucked at math and science. But my professors always complimented me on my writing. So I switched over and immediately fell in love.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

My ideas come from a variety of places. My first two novels were fictionalized retellings of real life events. But my third and current project was inspired by the city of New Orleans. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, and I just knew I wanted my next story to be based there. Luckily there’s plenty of interesting subject matter to go with NOLA!

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

Like I said above, New Orleans was the inspiration for my current project. Once I dug into the past and culture of the city, I found a story about Marie Laveau – the infamous voodoo queen – and the pieces fell into place.

My second inspiration was Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. I really wanted to write a female version of his character: a morally grey, reluctant, sassy but lovable antihero. My main character Jessa stemmed naturally from there, popping into my head fully-formed.

So my WIP is a NA contemporary fantasy revolving around a young woman who discovers she’s the missing heir to the voodoo queen but doesn’t really want anything to do with it.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

I am currently pursuing traditional publishing. I dream of seeing my book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, and I believe traditional is the best way of going about accomplishing that dream thanks to bigger distribution and the backing of a big house and editorial/marketing team.

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Hmmm. That’s tough because I’ve been lucky enough to receive a lot of great feedback. But I think the best was a reminder to take breaks. Burnout is a very real thing, and it can happen fast. So pacing yourself, refilling your creative well and taking a break between drafts has really helped my process.

The other is to give yourself a little grace – especially with first drafts. I am a perfectionist and the first draft is paralyzing to me because it never comes out the way I want it to. But that’s okay. That’s what revisions are for. So just get it down on paper and fix it later.

#6: When are you most creative?

After a glass of wine 🙂 but seriously it’s true. It goes along with the above, loosens my control freak-ness a little so I can just write. I typically am most creative in the evenings – right after work and before dinner. I can crank out a couple of hours then.

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

I am sure everyone says this, but JK Rowling has been a huge source of inspiration to me. Her journey is just fantastic. Sarah J Maas is the same way. She was published so young and has created this incredible platform from scratch.

But I’ve also been really inspired by a lot of the writers I’ve met along the way. Writers who have been working for years and never given up, writers who have consistently published books – books that didn’t make it big – but slowly built a strong following, writers who advocate for each other. It’s really a phenomenal community.

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

Well, my TBR pile is so gigantic that it’s actually overwhelming. But there are some great books in there! One of my most anticipated books of the year just came out a couple weeks ago and that was Finale by Stephanie Garber. It was fantastic. I am also really excited to finally start reading V.E. Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series.

#9: What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. It’s fabulous – dark and atmospheric with well-crafted characters. I love seeing more and more “fantasies” set in the real world – especially since that’s what I am writing!

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

That’s a toss up. Favorite series are Harry Potter and both of Sarah J Maas’ series. Favorite stand alone is The Great Gatsby!

#11: Favorite childhood book?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – a classic! The Witch Family is a close tie.

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Insta-love. It drives me CRAZY! Insta-lust is fine. But I am a firm believe that you can’t really love someone until you know them and know them well. Plus slow burn romance is the BEST.

#13: What book has made you cry?

A lot. I am a big crier. But The Shack by William P. Young absolutely wrecked me in the best way possible.

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

Red wine and Goldfish.

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

Snakes and failure.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

Reading obviously. I love puzzles and crafts and cooking. The rest of my life pretty much revolves around my dog and my family.

#17: Biggest real life pet peeve?

Slow walkers and people who don’t pay attention to where they are going in the grocery store. MOVE, GET OUT THE WAY!

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

Don’t lose faith if your first book doesn’t get you an agent. Don’t lose faith if your first book doesn’t get picked up by a publisher. It’s rare, and it’s all about the right book at the right time with the right person. And eventually the right combination will arise.


All About Taurisweater-headshot.jpg

Growing up, Tauri wanted to be a variety of things: marine biologist, veterinarian, equine chiropractor, neonatal surgeon. All biological, all scientific.

Until she arrived at college and quickly discovered… she was horrifically bad at science.
But she also learned that she had a knack for writing, and a passion was ignited.

Since then, Tauri has graduated from the University of Texas where she studied creative writing and psychology under Elizabeth McCracken, five-time author and James A. Michener Chair in Fiction. Immediately afterward, she joined the Writer’s Path at Southern Methodist University where she honed her skills under the tutelage of authors Suzanne Frank and Kay Honeyman.

She now lives in Austin, TX in a one-bedroom apartment with her eighty pound German Shepherd mix, her satanic cat, and a small shred of intact sanity.

You can follow Tauri on her blog and on Twitter!