Seven Questions: Tamara Shoemaker

Anyone who reads my blog is aware of Tamara Shoemaker, YA author and editor extraordinaire. This woman never slows down, and her tenth full-length novel just came out, the final installment in her Heart of a Dragon series, Unleash the Inferno.

uti

In Unleash the Inferno, you’ll finally get the rousing conclusion to the epic story of Kinna, Ayden, Cedric, their dragons, and of course, the villain, Sebastian. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the backstory and development of Sebastian the evil king, turning him into a grayer antagonist than you might find in a lot of YA Fantasy.

Since Tamara has answered my seven questions so many times, I focused this interview less on her latest book itself and more on questions other writers might have about how this powerhouse keeps cranking out multiple books in a calendar year while the rest of us flounder along hoping to produce one, if any.

Tama Author Pic Print

  • Tamara, this is book ten, eleven if you count your children’s picture book. What have you learned between book one and book ten that you would share with a novice novel writer?

This is cliché, I fully admit, but I also hold the view that there is a reason things become cliché: because they work, they connect. So, this is what I’ve learned: Never give up. I mean, NEVER give up. Not when you come down off the high of publishing your first book, not when you get your first poor review, not when you get your first rejection to a query, nor when an agent says your writing isn’t quite what they’re looking for and better luck next time, nor when a harsh critique comes in from a trusted friend, nor when the pure agony of marketing overwhelms you, nor when you’re tired, nor when you’re sick, nor when you’ve hit a plothole that could swallow a skyscraper.

The discouragements that litter the road of a writer are many and varied and often hard, and it is a career that is certainly not for the faint of heart. But I think almost any obstacle can be gotten over with steady diligence and an attitude of “Never Say Die.”

That’s been my motto since I began.

  • How have you changed as a writer over the years? Is your focus different? Has it gotten easier? Harder?

Some things have gotten easier, some harder. 🙂 When I began writing, I didn’t expect to stick with it. I wrote my first book on a bit of a dare from my husband (he dared me to write a book, so I said I would, and I did). I half-heartedly tried to submit it in a few places, but then I put it away and didn’t pursue it again for several years. In 2012, I heard of a small press that was looking for manuscripts, so I thought—why not? I got my manuscript out, dusted it off, and sent it in. When the company offered to publish it, my dreams and goals increased exponentially in a matter of seconds. I saw myself—a world-famous authoress topping every chart from the New York Times Bestsellers to USA Today’s—gaining international acclaim, and of course, while signing off on movie rights at every Hollywood studio, jotting book after book in my cabin in the woods where I would never, no never, attempt this mysterious thing called “marketing.”

Obviously, the real story is VASTLY different from what I had anticipated, but in some ways, that eases the road for me. Expectations are less when you are less known. My focus shifted from writing for readers to writing for myself—what did I want to see in a story? The independent publishing market swept in and gave me more freedom to do what I wished. I jumped genres from mystery to fantasy, and that’s where I am today. Every step I take presents its own set of challenges, but every step is also rewarding in its own way, because it’s all a part of living my dream. I haven’t topped any lists yet, and Hollywood steadfastly ignores me, but I am writing, I am creating, I am weaving my worlds, and that is important to me.

  • What inspires you when you’re feeling creatively dry?

So many things! My children. My surroundings. Nature. A book I’ve just read. A movie. A conversation with a friend. Music. Dreams. Sometimes I feel like I’ve come to the end of a road (that creative dryness you mentioned), and I realize it’s just a turning, a curve in the road, and something will spark a new thought that I want to explore to its farthest end.

  • You are also a freelance editor. What do you feel is different about editing someone else’s work and editing your own?

I think there’s such a thing as being “too close” to a story. When I write my own work, I am so wrapped up in the “nth details,” as I call them, of the world I create, that many times I can’t see the larger picture to know what is missing, or what should be tweaked. I rely heavily on beta readers when it comes to finding those things, but MOST of all, I rely on my editor to see those things (who, I may also add, is a worker of all things miraculous when it comes to literature of any kind).

So, in my work as an editor, I try to be that for other people. Authors get too close to their work; it’s a by-product of the profession, and that’s why it’s essential to get a good editor to help you see the larger picture. When I edit for other authors, I am able to grasp the bigger picture more easily than I can in my own books, because I’m coming at it from the outside of the work, and not inside it.

  • I’ve often noted that you seem like a very diligent writer who stays incredibly focused. I also know you go through phases of the typical writerly despair and uncertainty. How do you get through that and stay on track?

Hearkening back to my answer to question #1: Never give up, never say die. Sometimes, it’s like pulling teeth to make myself sit down and write. Sometimes the words don’t come, and the words I force to come are pure and absolute drivel that have no business anywhere NEAR what one would call a quality book.

I guess I look at it like the difference between a river and a pond. Scum collects on a still pond, because it has no movement. But in a river, the water is constantly flowing; there’s no chance for scum to form on the water’s surface, because it doesn’t stay still. When I’m writing, even if it’s drivel, even if the words are just awful with no quality whatsoever, the creative process isn’t stagnant. It’s still there, and eventually the quality floats on down the river to me, even if it takes a bit.

  • What is the hardest thing about the entire book process for you?

The middle phase: developmental edits. I love the first part: creation. I get to write whatever under the heavens I want to write, because it’s my story, and I can make it happen exactly as I want it to happen. I also love the final part: the line edits. That’s the spit and shine on the hard work I’ve put in. It’s where I see the story start to look like an actual book I’d want to read in a bookstore. It brings so much satisfaction. But that developmental phase in the middle is a bugger. It’s where I see every last flaw in the story, usually huge ones, and I have to go untangle them and rewrite them and rearrange things and cut whole sections and add whole sections and tear the entire story apart so I can put it back together again in a coherent manner. It’s awful. But I couldn’t complete a book without it. 🙂

  • Tell us a bit about your next projects.

I’m currently in process of finishing up a co-write with my beloved editor and friend, Emily June Street, (WHO?) set in an 18th century parallel world featuring music as magic and with steampunk touches. We’ve already co-written another book, set in an 19th century parallel world to the post-Civil War American South, featuring elemental magic and plantations, and we plan to pitch these books to agents at a conference in New York City in August. Meanwhile, I have begun sketching out the plans for a new YA Fantasy that includes between-world travel, fairy tale settings, and of course, my favorite, political intrigue. I’m hoping to begin the actual writing of that in June. I’m also busy picking up freelance editing contracts where I can in all my… you know… spare time. 😉

You all can learn more about Tamara and her writing and editing activities at tamarashoemaker.org

Read Unleash the Inferno!

After the Battle at ClarenVale, Kinna Andrachen unites those who spurn King Sebastian’s tyrannical reign, mustering a rag-tag army of soldiers and creatures to face Sebastian’s far larger Lismarian army. Victory is elusive and allies are scarce, but Kinna’s tenacious spirit cannot succumb to injustice. Her fiery heart must learn to lead

At last mastering control of the four Touches of the powerful Amulet, Ayden finds himself at the center of an epic struggle to destroy the corruption that has tainted the throne of Lismaria for centuries. As time runs out, his options for survival fade, surrendering him to a dark destiny.

Tied to a fate he does not want, Cedric Andrachen resists his inheritance, fleeing the lust for power it sparks in him. As war looms, Cedric faces his choices: will he turn his back on his throne and his kingdom? Or will he enter the struggle against tyranny, bringing the freedom his people have so long sought?

Sebastian sits, at last, on the Lismarian throne, stolen from him twenty years prior. But now the Rebellion, led against him by his niece and nephew, threatens his security from across the Channel, and the Amulet’s promise of power tempts him into even darker shadows. Ghosts of the past brutalize Sebastian’s present until the lines of reality blur with nightmare.

Flames of war ignite between nations. Peril threatens the Andrachen line.

Who will survive the inferno?

Seven Questions: Mark A. King

I am very happy to welcome Mark A. King to my blog for a round of seven questions, featuring his debut novel Metropolitan Dreams. Mark is one of the founders of FlashDogs, a global community of talented flash fiction writers. His flash fiction stories have been published in a number of anthologies and magazines. Mark was born and raised in London, works in Cambridge, and lives in Norfolk, England.

wide-cover-1

1-Pitch your book in three sentences or less.

M.A.K.: In the aftermath of a violent crime we follow the connected stories of an injured nightclub bouncer, an ageing crime-lord, a conflicted police hacker, a traumatised Tube-driver and a vulnerable twelve-year-old girl as they fight for survival, purpose and redemption in the fractured city of London. Along the journey we discover lost rivers, abandoned underground stations, mysterious forces and angels (perhaps).

2-Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

M.A.K.: Indie published. Having monitored the progress (and success) of many FlashDogs on their various publishing adventures, it became clear to me that traditional publishing can be a long, hard and often frustrating experience. Self publishing offers choice, power, flexibility and responsiveness in terms of being able to get the book in front of readers. Some misguided voices that say self publishing has lesser quality, but a fair number of the finest books I have read over the last few years have come from indie authors and traditional publishing is no guarantee that you will like a book anyway, as everyone has their own reading preferences. Indeed, the indie path can often offer a wider variety of material to the reader. Neither is better, it’s just that indie suited me at this time.
The kind and talented host of this blog helped me almost every step of the way, from story transformation through to last minute logo creation. Should you be able to find someone as marvellous, I highly recommend you seek their magic as a priority early in the process.

3-What are your favorite genres/books to read, and do you think this affects your writing? How?

M.A.K.: I enjoy speculative fiction, which covers genres as diverse as science fiction, horror, fantasy, magical realism and new weird. I find myself always looking firstly to ground my stories in the lives of my characters and the journey they on on, but I’m fascinated by the worlds that science, faith and spirituality hint at, which are just beyond our current understanding. So I always try to find an undercurrent of otherworldlyness in my stories (not a real word, but it probably should be).

4-What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

M.A.K.: I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something like ‘Write the way you want to write. Try not to be someone else as there is only one you.’
I’m starting to learn that it’s important to tell the stories I want to tell in the way that I want to tell them. It might sound obvious, but it’s not, well not for me anyway, I’m fairly conformist in my real life, my writing in many ways is an outlet for something more creative.
However, I realise that this approach is likely to mean that I have less success in terms of potential sales.
It would almost certainly be easier to create a firm genre fiction, following the paths of proven formulas, but that wouldn’t seem like success to me. I’ve waited all my life to write a novel. Success, I think, is creating something different and unique, being true to the stories in my imagination and in my heart, and all I can hope for is that readers will appreciate something slightly different and connect with it in some way.

5-How do you fit your writing into a busy life?

M.A.K.: It is incredibly hard. Like many writers, I have a full time job. I have a reasonable amount of responsibility in my job and when I come home there are numerous demands on my time and energy. I juggle a number of social media accounts (my personal one, my writer one/s and the FlashDogs one)–I wouldn’t make a good spy, as this is too many identities for me already. I tend to squeeze stolen minutes and hours between other tasks, or use my work breaks wisely. My favourite writing experience was when I had to drop my daughter at a horse riding experience which was in in a neighbouring county. Too far away to come back home, so I looked at the map and realised that Rendlesham Forest was nearby, so I took my laptop and wrote some of Metropolitan Dreams from the middle of the forest where UFO sightings have been reported (the UK’s very own Roswell incident, only with more witnesses and recorded evidence from military personnel).
rendlesham-1
It was a magical place to write from, it wasn’t just the history, but being outside surrounded by the energy of the forest was inspiring in itself. So, while finding time is sometimes hard, it does also lead to wonderful opportunities.

6-How and when did you first know you were a writer?

M.A.K.: I find it odd to think of myself as a writer and I have a cheeky small-boy grin when someone suggests that I might be one. For most of us, writing is unlikely to pay the bills, so for me, it is only ever a secondary role to; being a father, husband, good employee/manager, community contributor etc.

7-What’s your secret superpower?

M.A.K.: What is it now? Or what would I like it to be? If now, then people say that I am generally very calm under pressure. But if I had to choose a real superpower, it would be teleportation. I’d click my fingers and return to the warm sands of Shark Bay on Heron Island which sits atop the Great Barrier Reef. I’d click my fingers again to visit family or friends I don’t see often enough. Click to visit the many friends I have not yet met in different parts of the world.

Many thanks to Mark for answering seven questions!

You can learn more about Mark and his writing at his blog: https://makingfiction.com/
Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Making_Fiction
Get Metropolitan Dreams: https://goo.gl/EsXA3I

My Best Reads of 2016

Every year, I try to read one hundred books. I’ll be closing out this year with a total of 103. Below I’ve listed my top ten, the ones that most stuck with me and moved me. My top reads this year were almost unfailingly harrowing and dark, possibly a sign of the times?

Here are a few diagnostics on my reading, as I do like to keep track of my reading diversity lest I slip into bad reading habits.

Fiction vs. non-fiction: 79/21

Poetry: 3

Male authors vs. female: 31/70

Multi-author anthologies: 2

Books written by PoC: 16

Indie-pubbed books: 11

pre-19th century books: 1

19th century books: 1

20th century books: 23

21st century books: 78

And my top 10 reads for 2016:

Blood & Earth, by Kevin Bales (2016): An unflinching look at modern slavery. One of the key points emphasized throughout the book was the way in which climate change and deforestation are related to the exploitation of people. Chilling, because the problem is so big, and humanity has so little ability to overcome its own weaknesses to fix these massive and likely world-destroying problems. I read this right before the election of Donald Trump, and I was pretty much in a dark hole of depression for weeks. Not sure I’ve crawled out of it yet, but I prefer to be informed rather than not. Required reading for understanding the massive and complex problems of slavery and deforestation and how they are related.

The Fifth Season, by NK Jemison (2015): Complex and fascinating adult fantasy with a well-constructed world and completely new and different magic. Like all the best fantasy, the book explored themes relevant to the world we live in today in symbolic layers.

Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose (1996): All the well-researched details of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in one well-told tale! My favorite things in this book were the details: men ate up to 9 pounds of meat per day, native women in Oregon wrapped ropes around their legs to create “swelling” that was a sign of beauty and status, squirrels made massive seasonal migrations with millions of animals traveling together. I enjoyed the treatment of the white men involved in the story (not so much any of the women or Native Americans. Although Ambrose did try, he’s an historian of the old-school, and if the historical record did not record much, he didn’t fill in gaps with supposition) I thought this book was, on the whole, a complex and fascinating exploration of a strange and particular dream and how it manifested, and a compassionate analysis of the men who pushed it into reality.

Sold, by Patricia McCormick (2006): A realistic tale of a girl’s harrowing life in Nepal and India, told in verse. This book has been much criticized for being “missionary” in tone, but my feeling is that it was a genuine attempt to explore a real problem and the existing means by which young women sold into sex slavery can get out. Many missionaries do vital human rights work, doing more to help, I imagine, than the folks criticizing the book because a white westerner happened to be the person who helped our main character out of her tragic situation. Yes, cultural differences need to be respected, but girls who are exploited and oppressed by the culture they live in deserve basic human rights, and it often IS well-meaning “westerners” who have the means to help, and in my opinion, that is a moral imperative to do so.

Men Explain Things to Me (2014): Rebecca Solnit’s seminal work about what it’s like to be a woman with a voice in the world. Her essays are always engaging and offer a fresh and unwavering perspective on Feminism today. She is an excellent essayist, able to capture complex thoughts and make new connections in her language.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (1996): This book wins the award for most un-put-down-able this year. Krakauer’s true story about climbing Everest exposes the extraordinary hubris in the mountaineering community, and its fatal and disastrous consequences. This book will also make you think about the moral ramifications of “eco” and “adventure” tourism in a new light. I’ll be staying home to walk in the (very manageable) Marin hills, thank you.

The Gilded Hour, by Sarah Donati (2015): Rich historical fiction about two women supporting the initial emergence of birth control in Gilded Age America. The story was very engaging, but more, I appreciated the deep exploration of the lives of women during this era, and what birth control meant to them, versus what it means to someone like me, who has always had easy access to it. It was, quite literally, a matter of life and death for them—and yet the cultural resistance to allowing them access to it was deep and strong. This book showed the effects of this devaluing of female life in both harrowing and compassionate ways. It made me think about how many women in the world today are still in this exact same situation—unable to choose or control their pregnancies, their bodies literally falling apart with every successive pregnancy, their existing children threatened with loss of their mother with every subsequent birth.

The Painted Bird, by Jerzy Kosinski (1965): A disturbing tale  about how WWII affected a young boy. Reading this book was like looking at a painting by Salvador Dali—surreal and creepy, but almost perfectly executed. When I was reading, I didn’t think I could bear it, and I didn’t think it would make this list by any stretch of the imagination, but the resonance it still holds in my mind confirms it is a read of power and endurance. I need a stronger word than harrowing to describe this one, especially after reading a bit about Mr. Kosinski’s real life.

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah (2015): Another disturbing tale of World War II, though this one was completely different from The Painted Bird. This one is about how war affected women, and I really enjoyed the intimate look at two sisters’ lives in France during the war. Like nearly all the books in this list, this one made me cry, but in this one it was because I was so invested in the two characters’ lives and story (rather than just from all the harrowing realities). If an author can get me to care so much about a character, that’s good story-telling.

Next year I’m going to continue to try to read more non-fiction and diverse literature. I’d like to try to read more work from earlier times.

Here’s a link to my complete Goodreads challenge if you’d like to see all 103 books I read this year: https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/3762052

December Goals

Though my goal list appeared short for November, it was actually a really tough and time-consuming list, since I meant to write an entire book (with Tamara Shoemaker) in one month, not to mention continue writing a different book on my own. I stayed very busy. I’m planning to take on a lot for December, too.

In November my goals were:

  1. Continue ToB&L Book 5 revision. CHECK I didn’t get quite as far as I’d hoped, but I did make some good progress.
  2. NANOWRIMO CHECK Tamara and I completed our novel, River Running, in plenty of time. It’s around 90,000 words, and right now we are reading it for the first time, making small revisions as we go.
  3. OtherCHECK My main “other” this month was doing a final line and copy edit on Mark A. King‘s Metropolitan Dreams. I finished the edit yesterday, and this book is really turning into a polished gem! Keep your eyes peeled for it when it participates in the Kindle Scout Program…soon.

 

My December Goals are:

  1. FINISH ToB&L Book 5 revision.
  2. LIGHT Mage & Source revision. Last month I had a first reader take a look at Mage and Source. Now I’ll apply her feedback and revise, with the hope of sending it to editors Beth and Tamara in Jan 2017.
  3. BRAINSTORMING: Tamara and I have another co-write idea that we need to brainstorm. I’m really excited about this one. It involves music and magic and an 18th Century setting of court intrigues.
  4. Other. This seems like a good goal category to keep. I’m sure I’ll have more other to report at the end of the month.

November Goals

As I sit down to write my November Goals, I am struck by how very dark it is outside. We’ve had rain for almost a week here in Northern California, a feat that hasn’t occured in years, and I find the dark, wet mornings are perfect for writing. They make me feel quite inspired. I wish this weather could go on for longer! Alas, both the darkness and the wetness will go, as we change our clocks next weekend and the weather pattern is already shifting.

My October Goals were:

  1.  ToB&L Book 5 revision. CHECK.I finished this much faster than the actual draft-writing.
  2. Begin ToB&L Book 5 revision. I’m in the thick if this right now. CHECK.
  3. Other CHECK. I worked on plenty of “other” last month. First, I formatted a box set for Margaret Locke. Second, I did a global read through on Beth Deitchman’s latest fantasy novel. Third, I finished line edits on Mark A. King’s Metropolitan Dreams. And fourth, I began a global read through of Tamara Shoemaker’s final Heart of A Dragon book, Unleash the Inferno!

My November goals are:

  1. Continue ToB&L Book 5 revision.
  2. NANOWRIMO I’m participating as one half of a co-writing team (with Tamara Shoemaker) in National Novel Writing Month. We are writing a fantasy romance book set in a Reconstruction Era-ish setting with a magic system that involves the elements and … indigo. My goal is to add words every day, with a target of about 1500 or more per day.
  3. Other. This seems like a good goal category to keep. I’m sure I’ll have more other to report at the end of the month.

Seven Questions : October 2016 : Tamara Shoemaker

Author extraordinaire Tamara Shoemaker reappears for her fourth round of Seven Questions. The woman can’t help it; she just keeps cranking out books! This month she is releasing both Guardian of the Vale, the third and final installment in her YA urban fantasy series, and the complete Guardian of the Vale Trilogy Box Set, in which you can get all three books in the series in one convenient and discounted file, starting today.

gotvlatestrevisionmaster

1) Tamara, this is your ninth book. Wow! How has your book-writing process changed between Book 1 and Book 9?

I don’t recognize the author I was when I wrote Broken Crowns. I mean, I see shades of her in who I am now (I still sit down to write every day, I still set word count goals), but I’m much more disciplined about my story structure now. With my first book, I made up the story each day as I typed. Now, I write an entire history of my characters before I ever even start page one, chapter one. I’ll create timelines, backstory, personality profiles, outlines, find inspiration pics, all sorts of things I never did for the first book. It might help that I now write fantasy, which is all about world-building and setting. Broken Crowns was a mystery, and while setting up your world in a mystery is still important, it doesn’t hold the same weight that it does in fantasy.

2) Which phase of the book process do you enjoy most and why?

I’m pretty sure this makes me an odd bird among writers, as quite a few of my fellow authors have told me they enjoy the first-draft process the most–but I love the edits, particularly the line edits. First-drafting, while giving me a bit of freedom to just write without worrying about finesse or polish, sometimes chafes, because I dislike putting anything on paper that doesn’t immediately bowl me over. I realize in order to craft a book, that annoyingly poor first draft has to come out, so I do it. But I love the line edits–the final stage before publication, because that’s when I’m dusting off all the rough edges of my work and watching it transform into a true work of art. It’s lovely.

3) Novels are a tough form, time-consuming and sometimes underappreciated in the world. What keeps you so motivated?

I realized a long time ago that if my motivation relied on reader appreciation, I would have quit after the first book hit the market. Some will love you, some will hate you, most won’t even give your book a chance. I can’t focus on that, or I will get discouraged. For me, it’s all about the work itself. I am a book lover, have been all my life. I love everything about a book, from the smell of dusty old volumes to the crinkly, crunchy sound of the pages as they turn (Kindle, you will never own me!). The stories I fall in love with, I read over and over and over again. They become real to me, holding honored places on my bookshelves. I’m serious. I have a “favorite” shelf, and a “lesser” shelf, and a “I-don’t-like-these-as-much-so -let’s-put-them-in-the-corner” shelf. If authors have impacted and inhabited my life through their works of art, I want to do the same for others. So my motivation is to make my stories real, to me if to no one else. The satisfaction I gain from pouring all of myself into a project like this is beyond measure.

4) Do your book ideas arrive in your head in a particular way? As images, as opening scenes or sentences, as characters, as conflicts? Tell us a little about idea generation, brainstorming, and how you come up with a story? Once you have an idea, what are the next steps?

They come in all shapes and sizes and by any means: ridiculous questions my kids ask, an anecdote where something happens by accident, a dream that vividly sticks in my mind–anything that makes me ask: What if? Once I have that what if question, I write down the seed of the story, and then I spend days staring at the wall, thinking, occasionally jotting something down. The story builds on itself. Once I have the premise I want to write about, I have to build the world around it. What’s the setting? This earth? Another earth? What time period? Modern style? Medieval style? Victorian style? Ancient style? What government ruled during that time? Dictatorship? Monarchy? President? Pantheon? Who are the characters? What are their backgrounds? How are they affected by their culture? What’s the central conflict and how is everything in this world shaped by it? Once I have a good grasp on ALL these things, and not until that happens, THEN I start writing.

5) You have been forcibly recruited as an experimental space traveller (sorry). You are allowed to bring only what you can carry in a small backpack. What do you pack?

(Forcibly being the key word.) Space! Ack! Fie, fie!

Okay, fine. I would need tether ropes, first and foremost, because obviously, I can’t be trusted not to float off into nothingness forever and ever and ever and ever…

Whose bright idea was space again?

And then, several tanks of oxygen, again, because while I’m floating off forever and ever and ever and ever, I’ll need something to breathe… *can’t breathe, must breathe… air… help…

You say I can’t fit oxygen tanks into a backpack. Erg.

I’d like to take a few books to pass the time while I’m floating into nothingness until my eventual smothering, starving, helpless death…

Maybe I need to move on to the next question…

6) It turns out that your experimental space ship has malfunctioned, and instead of traveling through space, you’re traveling through time. What era/year will be your desired destination? And why?

Oh, thank goodness. Time travel is much more palatable.

I’ve always said I was born in the wrong era, as history has always fascinated me. I have a particular penchant for the 1850’s through the 1880’s. I’d love to go (and quite often do in the pages of historical novels and Civil War accounts). As my husband reminds me when I wish aloud for such things, air-conditioning and indoor plumbing weren’t really a thing, at least not in most households (indoor plumbing), and death by measles, typhoid, and the common cold was a thing. So… there’s that.

But I’d still love to go, because I’m a legit nerd-in-training, or so I’ve been told.

7) Tell us a bit about your next book (or books, since it’s you)

Hahaha! Thou makest me laugh out loud.

I am soooooo excited for November to hit, because that means it’s National Novel Writing Month, and I am planning to write TWO novels during it. First, I’m co-writing a novel with the fabulous Emily June Street (I suspect you know something of her), where we will explore a fantasy world set similarly to the deep south during the Reconstruction period, and where we weave a romance reminiscent of Jane Eyre and her brooding and passionate Mr. Rochester. I can’t WAIT for this!

My second novel will explore the theme of using music as magic. This story has been teasing my brain for many months–perhaps because music is important in my life, magical in its own way. It touches the very roots of who I am, and I’m really excited to dig in and tease out the ways it could be shown in this world I’m about to create. Here’s the logline I created for it: “When Alex Cale, a prodigy whose musical magic shapes the world, discovers the deterioration of his symphonies, he suspects sabotage by Edon White, the Conservatoire’s new Director. As the world begins to crumble beneath this incurable discordance, only Lyric, a mysterious eighteen-year-old girl with hidden talents, can help Alex restore harmony and magic.”

 Can’t wait to get started!

boxsetgotve

About Guardian of the Vale:

Clayborne Training Institute, a school for teen Elementals, has fallen beneath a sweeping nationwide coup led by the Elemental Alliance, a party of power-hungry sectarians. Having narrowly escaped the fight for the school, Alayne Worth, Quadriweave and possessor of the Vale, flees Clayborne with twenty-three desperate students seeking the headquarters of the Last Order, the underground organization planning to wrest control from the Alliance. Danger shadows her steps as the struggle for the Vale and its power stalks ever closer to home. Conflicts, perils, enemies, and rebellions push Alayne toward a cataclysmic battle that threatens to rend CommonEarth at the seams, and the Vale is the linchpin that decides the victory or the defeat. When those closest to Alayne threaten her possession of the Vale, will she and the world in which she lives survive the fallout?

print author

About Tamara:

Tamara Shoemaker authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the beginning two installments of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame and Embrace the Fire, as well as her first completed trilogy: Mark of Four, Shadows of Uprising, and Guardian of the Vale. In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction, chases three children hither and yon, and tries hard to ignore the brownie mixes that inevitably show up in her cabinets.

Follow her on social media:
Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker
Website: http://www.tamarashoemaker.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tshoebooks

 

Seven Questions : August 2016 : Taylor Rush

For this month’s edition of Seven Questions, I’m hosting romantic comedy author Taylor Rush. Taylor, who hails from Portland, OR, wrote the quirky contemporary romances Mistakes Were Made and her recent release, Best Laid Plans. Learn more about her and her writing with my seven questions.

1) Pitch your latest book in three sentences.

Sam and Wil are madly in love. Unfortunately, they are not particularly good at communication and what starts as a silly plan backfires on Sam. They both still want love and friendship, but can they find it together?

2) Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

My books are indie-published by Silurian Press, a small business I started in June 2015. Among the many things I’ve done in the past, I’ve worked in web programming and digital marketing, and my partner is an attorney. We both also find running a business intrinsically interesting.

This means I can keep overhead very low — I program the website, build the e-book, review contracts, etc. without having to pay anyone. This has been really helpful during the start-up phase of the business. I also enjoy working on a business plan and managing the finances of the business. Marketing has been harder, but I have found it helpful to think about the books as products in an online business.

I’m always open to different publishing possibilities, but so far I’m really enjoying running Silurian Press.

3) Your book is a quirky, unusual modern-day romance. Is this your usual genre or do you write others, too? What draws you to certain genres or types of stories?

For many years, I’ve written fragments of adventure, fantasy, or science fiction stories that may include romance. I’m most interested in the messed-up ways that people try to do the right thing, whether in the context of a romantic relationship, a friendship, or saving the universe.

I also like exploring the many ways all of us can fail to communicate with each other (or even within ourselves), and I find the different ways we structure our lives with work, family, and friendship fascinating. Writing is a great way to play out a wider variety of possibilities than I can experience directly.

And I’ll get to saving the universe someday.

4) What’s the best book you’ve read this year and why?

Always hard to pick just one! I really enjoyed Blindspot, by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore. It’s set in pre-revolutionary war Boston and follows characters on the periphery of the rebellion. I love books that tell the story of people we don’t hear from as much, and there is some steamy hot sex. The plot is also somewhat similar to some of the gender-bending Shakespearean comedies, which I also always enjoy. It’s a dense, fascinating read, and you’ll feel smarter for having read it!

5) What do you think makes a great sentence?

One that makes me bark with laughter — usually with a twist at the end or a simple statement that no one (usually) says out loud.

6) What is your next book about?

My third book, Good Fortune, continues the story of Sam and Wil (from Best Laid Plans). It’s a bit darker, but still funny. I got to write a wedding and a death, both of which made me cry. The book is in the copy editing phase right now, and should be available in November.

I’m just starting to map out two more books: one focusing on the younger days of Sue, a character in Mistakes Were Made and Best Laid Plans, and another taking place in Portland after Good Fortune when the city is hit with the big earthquake.

7) What’s your secret super power?

Organizing stuff — legos, books, old cassette tapes, tools. I love getting them sorted and into order.

Learn more about Best Laid Plans:

Sometimes, it’s better not to make plans. Samantha Queezy and Wilbur Dale are madly in love. But they are masters of mediocre communication, and they quickly complicate their lives. Their blissful romance runs into problems when Sam casually shares her youthful plan of marrying for money. Wil takes great pleasure in teasing Sam about her lack of ethics while slowly becoming obsessed with the idea. Their relationship begins to fray around the edges and both Sam and Wil have to decide what matters the most.

And more about Taylor:

Taylor is deeply committed to eating, reading, and writing. Growing up in Portland, Taylor spent a lot of time digging around in the woods and daydreaming with legos. After going back east for college, Taylor returned to Portland with dreams of saving the world. After being kicked in the shins by reality for a number of years, Taylor got into technology, data organization, and helping people manage their knowledge. This was great fun, but the stories kept bubbling out.

Taylor has no pets due to allergies, but has a dream of guinea pigs. Taylor has no tattoos due to anxiety. Taylor does have an excellent appetite, so the anxiety isn’t too bad.