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Interview with YA & NA Urban Fantasy Author A.L. Knorr

A.L. Knorr is a Canadian who lives in Italy, which she finds quite inspiring. When she’s not writing or plotting her next story, she loves to mountain bike, hike, do yoga, read, and visit the historic sites of Italy and abroad. She also frequently butchers the beautiful Italian language. Her first completed novel is Born of Water, published in 2016. She followed it up with the companion novella Returning. The sequel, Born of Fire, is now available, and she is currently working on the third and fourth books in the series Born of Earth and Born of Æther coming in 2017.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

I have wanted to be an author since I was a preteen. I was a total bookworm as a kid. My mom taught me to read when I was 3 and since then, books have been my favourite form of entertainment. My career path went towards marketing and I wrote as a hobby, but I knew how difficult it was to try and get published traditionally, and how poorly it paid unless you were a megastar, so I never pursued it. It wasn’t until January of 2016 that I stumbled into indie publishing forums and learned just how much the publishing industry changed. As a marketing expert with an entrepreneurial drive, I looked at indie publishing as the perfect solution for me. It’s not easy, but I love having control over what I write, how my covers look, my launch calendar, my marketing tactics, everything. I started writing my first novel in January and launched it on December 1.

Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?

I write YA & NA Urban Fantasy, so far always first person, always female main characters, and always centered around a life-changing supernatural experience. I don’t have huge casts or overly complex plots. I love to include a bit of romance, and a lot of self-examination as the character goes through their transformation. My stories are intimate, inside-the-brain-and-heart narratives. I want the reader to be IN the main characters shoes and feeling what they feel.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

YA and NA Urban Fantasy. I really love fantastical stories, any and all kinds, but this early in my career I didn’t feel I had the chops to take on an Epic Fantasy series and full on world building. I love Urban Fantasy because it’s rooted in our current reality and just asks questions like What if mermaids really did exist? What would they be like? I also love writing origin stories, of both good and bad characters (although none of my characters are all good or all bad, they all have both) and laying out how and why characters comes to be the way they are.

Buy BORN OF WATER

You have a novella and a full length novel available now. Can you tell us about your path to publication?

I chose intentionally not to pursue traditional publishing. It can take years to get something published that way, and while I have nothing against this path, I really wanted to try building my author brand on my own. With my experience in marketing and brand building, it was the obvious choice. I think that I will be a lot more interesting to a traditional publisher down the road when I’ve proven that I know how to build an audience, write a compelling story, and market my work. Getting trad published is not my goal though, my goal is simply to thrill readers and to make enough that I can do it full time.

What are some of your go to genres when reading and who are some of your favorite authors? What is it you love about those genres?

My favourite authors include Stephen King (even though I don’t like Horror, King is such a master of words that I think every author should read him), JK Rowling (need I explain?), Anne Rice (The Vampire Lestat is brilliant), Ken Follett (his Historical Fiction), JRR Tolkien, Kelley Armstrong, Suzanne Collins, Stieg Larsson (the Dragon Tattoo series had me by the neck the whole time), Arthur Golden, Bill Bryson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (huge fan of Sherlock Holmes), Chuck Wendig (for his humour), Veronica Roth, and Frank McCourt. A real mixed bag! For me, it’s important to read widely and outside my own genre, that’s the best way to improve my own writing. I really love dystopian stories and want to take a crack at my own dystopian series maybe later this year.

Are you a pantser, a plotter or somewhere in between?

A plotter for sure. I’d get so lost if I didn’t plan out my stories, and sometimes I get lost even when I have planned the whole thing out. I’m experimenting with different ways to outline as I haven’t found the perfect way yet, but I am quickly learning to err on the side of over-planning.

When you first get an idea, how long until you know you’re ready to begin writing and what does that progression look like? An idea usually comes to me first in scene form, sometimes it’s a big climactic event, other times its just a cool concept or hook – whether or not its strong enough to hang a story on becomes clear over a few days of musing, usually late at night in bed. Ideas come and go but the ones that keep coming back to me are the ones I pursue. If it just won’t go away then I start to outline it and ask more questions about the main character – who are they, what do they want, what’s stopping them from getting it, why would anyone care whether they got it or not, how are they flawed? Usually, once I start fleshing out a character, the story starts to unfold. Once I have a full outline I’m happy with, then I start writing and go chapter by chapter, but not in order, sometimes I start at the end or in the middle, whichever scenes feel the most urgent to get out.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I try to get my writing done in the morning when I’m freshest. On my best days, I write for 4-5 hours and have topped out at 13,000 words. On my worst days I can be found laying facedown in my laptop with only a (poorly written) sentence on the screen. My afternoons are for business stuff, email, marketing, and other activities related to running a publishing business.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

Outlining was the biggest lesson of this year, and to always start with the end in mind. If you don’t know your climax then you won’t know how to get there. I’ve also learned that imagery is a very powerful tool and can hook a reader into the story better than simple adjectives, nouns, and verbs. I try to inject images into my writing that give the reader a sensory experience. Also, that my first draft will always be terrible and that’s just the way it is. The old saying that writing is re-writing is totally true. Reaching out for help is another valuable lesson. The author community is full of wonderful people from all walks of life and experience levels, and many of them are so willing to help another author. If you’re in trouble, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Odds are, someday you’ll be able to return the favour.

It is such a crazy and competitive market. How do you tackle the marketing and promotion of your books? I always start by clarifying my objectives. You only have so many hours in a day and so much money to market with (or none at all). What is the desired outcome? Sales? Downloads? Fans on Facebook? Subscribers to your mailing list? Reviews? Focus on one and once you have your objective nailed, then brainstorm tactics for how to achieve that objective. Write down everything you can think of. Do some research. Ask other authors what has worked for them. Understand that readers of different genres behave differently. Choose the tactics that make sense to you and be sure to track the results as best you can, otherwise you have wasted your energy. Track. Learn. Discard the tactics that don’t work and do more of the ones that do. Repeat.

How do you feel about Amazon exclusive versus going wide?

I think that for a brand new author, KU is a great solution. People can read your books without paying for them, and yet you still get paid. That’s pretty brilliant for an unknown writer. I think once you’ve a readership built up and have a following of loyal and hungry readers, then consider going wide. I am nowhere near that myself so I can’t speak to how best to transition, but I would think it would need to be well thought through and partnerships would have to be built with the other platforms.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?

For writers, I would say read a lot, always be reading something. When my creative tank starts to feel empty, I know I haven’t been reading enough. Do other things to fill your creative tank too, travel, movies, museums, art galleries, whatever inspires you. Be okay with sucking at first. King once said the first million words you write are just practice. So just start writing, don’t censor yourself or edit as you go, that’s what rewriting is for. Whether you go indie or pursue a trad publishing contract depends on your goals. Do you just want to write and leave the marketing stuff to others, then maybe consider querying for an agent. If you have a knack for marketing and brand building and don’t mind splitting your time (and your brain) then consider indie.

Check out A.L.’s novella, THE RETURNING, part of the Elemental Origin’s series (It’s free on her Website:  www.alknorrbooks.com )Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

There is a lot of unrest in the publishing industry right now because of what Amazon and other digital retailers have done by opening up publishing to anyone. I read an article on Huff Post this morning that condemned indie authors of corrupting the written word. If you’re indie, or thinking of going indie, ignore this kind of rhetoric. Readers are the ones who get to decide. No one else.

Thank you so much A.L.! Where can people find out more about you and your books?

Thank you, too! Haha! I’m everywhere!

https://www.facebook.com/alknorrbooks/

https://twitter.com/ALKnorrBooks

https://www.pinterest.com/ALKnorrBooks/

https://www.instagram.com/alknorrbooks/?hl=en

 

Colorado Criminal Prosecutor Linda E. Stanley Available for Consultation!

A little bit about Linda…

With a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, Linda pursued her career path as a police officer and obtained great success while being known to follow every lead to a logical conclusion while making sure rights were well-preserved in the endless pursuit of justice.

Linda had always wanted to attend law school, so when she was finally accepted to the prestigious University of Denver Sturm College of Law in the Fall of 2006 (that year alone, there were over 10,000 applications for 300 openings) she continued her work in the area of criminal justice with the opening of her own investigations firm. While in law school, she served as President of the Criminal Law Association which afforded her many opportunities to bring relevant topics and speakers to campus for further insight into areas often not taught in the law school curriculum, i.e. polygraphs and how they work, the science and art of blood spatter analysis, and gunshot residue: what it can and cannot reveal.

During this time, Linda was hired as an investigator for the criminal defense of an individual charged with the murder of Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams on New Year’s Day of 2007. The case took many twists and turns throughout the next two years to which Linda remained vigilant to the very end while maintaining the highest standards of character and integrity in this high-profile case that took national attention.

After graduating from law school, Linda began her career as a prosecutor and as such has remained a leader in her community with a reputation for being tough but fair. Her relationship with police officers begins with a mutual respect that has also extended to criminal defense attorneys, probation and parole officers, correctional personnel, and judges. Her expertise in law and the criminal justice system spans well over 15 years affording her the vast amount of knowledge she is now willing to share with others.

Linda is offering her expertise and years of experience in a variety of ways. You can hire her for 1-1 consolation for any legal matters for your novel or to speak at a conference or specialty writing class or seminar. She has valuable insight and has personally been a tremendous help to me with the sequel to Pretty Wicked: WICKED FALLOUT (available spring 2017).

You can contact Linda to request a quote and discuss exactly how she can best help you at lindaestanley@gmail.com

I will definitely be using her in the future!

Take care everyone and thanks for taking the time to read 🙂

Kelly

Kindle Countdown For Pretty Wicked

Hello everyone!

Like suspense? Thrillers with a little horror mixed in? Follow 15-year-old Ryann Wilkanson as she stalks the people in her small town all the while deciding who will die next.

This is not your regular thriller. Ryann has studied all things murder including how to get away with it.

Will her detective father and his partner realize what’s right under their noses and will it be too late?

Delve inside the mind of a budding serial killer as she risks everything to become the greatest monster there has ever been.

Pretty Wicked (regularly 5.99) will be on promo on amazon.com the following days:

October 30 – 0.99
October 31 – 1.99
November 1 – 2.99
November 2 – 3.99

Take advantage of this deal while you can!

Pretty Wicked Printable 330 6x9

Purchase on AMAZON

Check out the reviews on GOODREADS

Thanks so much! Happy reading! 😉

~Kelly

Why I Chose to Write from the Villain’s POV

I’ve always been fascinated with psychology and human motivation. Whenever I read a novel or watched a movie or television show, I was drawn to the villain. I wanted to understand what made them act the way they did––delve into what happened in their lives or minds to make them the person they had become.

When there was the odd story from the “villains” point of view, it seemed to characterize them as “misunderstood” and usually spun them into a likeable character who was the hero of that new version of the story. I wanted to write something unique and portray the villain realistically. What would the story look like if they were a true villain? I got the idea for a teenage serial killer who was unapologetic about who she was and what she wanted and thought it was really interesting to explore what her point of view would be if she drove the story and the “villain” was the detective trying to stop her.

I love human psychology and the mysteries of the mind. I’m fascinated that two kids can be raised the exact same way, in the same house by the same parents, yet turn out completely different. What causes this? Is it a case of nature versus nurture? Maybe one had a wonderful school life and the other was bullied? Perhaps the parents had a favorite child and the preferential treatment of their sibling affected them, setting them on a downward spiral. Is a person born evil or good? Could there be something in the brain of some people that make them inherently different from the majority of others?

And what causes a person to become wicked? My research shows that there are three factors that can determine or influence sociopathy or psychopathy in individuals.

  1. Brain damage
  2. Abuse
  3. Mental Illness

However, I wonder if there are more possibilities. Surely there must be other factors since the majority of people who have suffered from these three things never become a dangerous person.

I asked myself if someone could be born evil. In my research I watched many documentaries, often with troubled children as the subject. There were a handful of cases where the children who committed disturbing and horrific acts including murder had no history. There were no obvious predictive traits and no signs to indicate that anything was amiss. Other children and teens showed psychopathic personality traits from as young as three with no risk factors (no abuse, neglect, brain trauma, etc…) and later grew up to be callous criminals and killers.

Pretty Wicked is an exploration into the mind of such a teenager. One who knows right from wrong but doesn’t necessarily care. Some people have suggested that Ryann is not a very likeable character because of this and a few have even asked if I like her.

I actually do. I enjoyed writing her because she is so far removed from who I am. Of course I don’t agree with anything she does at all! In that sense, Ryann is deplorable! But what I like is her humor and wit and the way she owns who she is. She was a fun character to write because she is so different to most characters out there. It’s like when you see a Hollywood actor discuss their favorite roles. Often they say the villain roles were their preferred because it was more fun and exciting to play. There are forbidden elements that make it a bit more exciting than the standard hero. It’s no different for me as the writer. I got the chance to explore what someone like her might be like, both in their mind and how they live their life.

I encourage you to check out Ryann in Pretty Wicked if you haven’t already. You can also read the first 3 chapters on Wattpad if you’re curious. Judge for yourself 😉

Thanks!

~Kelly

2 Pretty Wicked Teaser Card

Interview with Fantasy & Dystopian Author M.A. Phipps

M.A. PHIPPS is an American author who currently resides in the picturesque English West Country with her husband, daughter, and their Jack Russell, Milo. A lover of the written word, it has always been her dream to become a published author, and it is her hope to expand into multiple genres of fiction. When she isn’t writing, you can find her counting down the days until the new season of Game of Thrones.

m-a-picWhen did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. My dad has always been a big reader and encouraged my love of books and writing. I was incredibly busy with extracurricular activities in my adolescent years, but I would write story ideas on scraps of paper in class, at work—basically anywhere I had the opportunity to do so. I worked on bits here and there, but it wasn’t until I graduated university that I had the time to sit down and work on something properly. I began seriously writing in 2011.

Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?

My current published works are the first two books in a YA dystopian trilogy called Project W. A. R. They were inspired by George Orwell’s 1984, which I read in high school, as well as events that transpired during World War II. They take place in a futuristic society that prohibits the arts (and basically anything that makes us different or unique) and as a result has suppressed human emotion to the point that standing out can be grounds for execution. The story follows Wynter, a 21-year-old girl who is taken into custody by the feared research facility known as the DSD when it’s discovered that she has a rare condition which allows her to see the future (about as different as you can possibly be!).

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

I want to test my limits and push my comfort zone by writing in as many different genres as possible. I think I tend to lean toward YA fiction because it has a sort of hopefulness to it, and I enjoy character growth (and when better to show character growth than during our main years of development). I also love incorporating some sort of fantastical element into my fiction. A term I’ve heard that I love is magical realism, and I’d like to think that even with the supernatural elements I include in my writing, that I’m still able to keep my stories grounded in reality.

You have two books out now with a small press. Can you tell us about your path to publication?

It’s been a long road. I began writing seriously in 2011—my first book I ever wrote is a YA fantasy. I originally queried agents with that and Ultraxenopia (the first book in my YA dystopian trilogy) but I ultimately decided to self-publish Ultraxenopia in 2015 to introduce myself to the industry, build a platform, and get a feel for what I was doing. More than anything, I knew I needed reader feedback to really grow as a writer. After a few months of being self-published, I was picked up by a small press which helped tremendously in terms of learning about the industry, about marketing, etc. With the help of a professional editor, I grew in my writing and re-released Ultraxenopia in January 2016. The second book, Type X, released this past August.

ma-book-cover

Congrats! So, what are some of your go to genres when reading and who are some of your favorite authors? What is it you love about those genres?

My favorite genres are young adult, sci-fi/fantasy, and thrillers—kind of a big difference, I know! I don’t really have any particular favorite authors so much as authors that have left an impression on me or influenced me in some way. With fantasy, I am very fond of Philip Pullman and Garth Nix, and with thrillers, I bow down before Dennis Lehane. Shutter Island was brilliant.

Ohhhh yes! Love him! Now the process questions. Are you a pantser, a plotter or somewhere in between?

Oh, I’m a plotter. I like to plan everything out so I know exactly where I’m going with the story. With my Project W. A. R. trilogy, there are quite a lot of twists and turns, and characters briefly mentioned who then come back in a big way later. Planning makes it easier to keep track of everything and make sure I’m answering as many questions as possible.

When you first get an idea, how long until you know you’re ready to begin writing and what does that progression look like?

It varies. I have notebooks (yes, plural), full of ideas and excerpts. Sometimes I have an urge to work on one thing and I’ll write little bits here and there, until something else takes hold and I absolutely HAVE to write that. Honestly though, I don’t truly begin a book until I’ve planned it out, so if I’m in the planning stages of something, that is 100% what my inspiration is telling me to work on.

typex-cover

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I’m definitely much more of a night owl and work best in the late hours, so I tend to work in the evenings, cuddled up with a cup of tea and a blanket (and of course my laptop and notebook) on the sofa with my dog. I then set up a playlist (always instrumental music—lyrics distract my brain when I’m trying to write) and set to work. I have a specific playlist for each book with songs that pertain to each chapter, which I’ll put on repeat depending on what chapter I’m working on. I typically write out all the dialogue in a chapter first so I can look at the conversations with the added extras and make sure it flows and makes sense.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

My editor is brilliant and believes in me, which is amazing. She’s helped me learn so much in terms of technique and just silly things I was doing in my writing that I didn’t even realize. I think she’s definitely helped me to become a better writer and seeing the difference between my writing now and when I started is sometimes a shock (in a good way). I’ve also learned a lot about marketing and making connections, which is obviously vital to get your work in front of readers. This whole journey as a whole has been one giant learning curve.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?

Never be afraid to ask established authors for advice—most are very willing to provide pointers—but don’t get offended if they don’t respond. We are very busy, after all! In terms of trying to get published, I’d say start early and build that platform. I look back and often wish I had tried to get short stories published when I was younger or done anything really to get experience early on, but it boiled down to the simple fact that I didn’t know to try. The internet has so much out there nowadays that can provide insight into what to do. Take advantage of that.

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

I’ll be offering some pretty cool exclusive content through my newsletter every month (starting this month), which I think will be of particular interest to those who have read the first two books in my Project W. A. R. trilogy.

Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?

Website:  www.maphipps.com      

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormaphipps/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authormaphipps

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13682371.M_A_Phipps

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authormaphipps/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkOGI201TU2Z1r0ZRW_aFog

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00U7ET67M

ULTRAXENOPIA can be found on 

Amazon:  http://amzn.com/B01AP1AJYU

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28463043-ultraxenopia

 TYPE X can be found on

Amazon: https://amzn.com/B01KLCZRLI

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30626391-type-x

Read Chapter 1 of Mature YA Thriller PRETTY WICKED

I’m very excited that my YA mature thriller Pretty Wicked is out in 2 DAYS! So I would like to share the first chapter with you guys so you can see if it’s your kind of murder 🙂

Pretty Wicked Printable 330 6x9

First, here’s the short blurb to tell you what it’s about:

The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen.

 But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects.

 Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price. 

*warning – some graphic content

Pretty Wicked is a mature YA novel intended for ages 16 and up.

Click on link below to read the first chapter 🙂

prettywicked-excerpt-chapter 

Buy it on Amazon

Mark it to you TBR list on Goodreads 

THANKS FOR CHECKING IT OUT!

~Kelly