Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Author Interview & Giveaway: Belle Whittington


Belle resides somewhere north of Houston, Texas in a small inconsequential town with the smallest most inconsequential name. There in the shady reaches of the pines, elms, and oaks, she daydreams of adventures and secrets that she weaves throughout her stories.

As a student of literature, Belle is earning her degree in English at the University of Houston. She hopes to teach literature at the college level someday.







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Thanks so much for joining me, Belle! I'm very excited to host you on my blog. So let's get down to business!

1. I really liked the originality of Cicada. How did you come up with the subject matter? Have you always been interested in aliens, or were you just inspired one day?
Thank you!  I aimed at making Cicada a unique sci-fi/paranormal experience for readers.  I wanted it to be a breath of fresh air for those who are tired of reading the same story told in a different way.  I've always been interested in science fiction and aliens!  For as long as I can remember, I've been intrigued by the idea of intelligent life existing somewhere among the twinkling stars in the sky. As an avid daydreamer, I get inspiration from all sorts of places.  And many of the places I mentioned in Cicada actually exist...only under different names, of course. :-)  Even the haunted forest exists!

Growing up in Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, afforded me summers full of adventure with my friends. I call on those adventures and memories a great deal for my YA stories. Cicada has a lot of the energy of those childhood adventures spun throughout.One of them is something that actually happened to me when I was thirteen years old. I was on one of my adventures in the woods with my dog, Dusty. We made our way through the woods to a neighboring pasture and crawled through the barbed wire fence. When we got to the top of one of the rolling hills in the grassy field, I realized I was standing in the middle of a giant circle imprinted in the pasture grass. No one had ever told me about crop circles at that time in my life, so I just thought it was an odd occurrence that there was a strange circle in the tall grass.  Now that circle is forever memorialized in a YA novel, Cicada.


2. The setting was also very distinct, like the forest, the drive-in, and the bakery shop. Were any of the places based off real-life places?
Yes, all of those places are based off real-life locations in Willis, Texas...that "small, inconsequential town with the smallest, most inconsequential name somewhere north of Houston, Texas." :-)  Well, Sprinkles, the bakery shop, is fictitious.  But all those other locations can be found with a little detective work. :-)

3. How long did it take you to write this novel? Did you have a specific writing routine?
It took me about a year to write Cicada.  It might not have taken that long if I weren't also writing research papers for classes and working full-time at my day job.  My writing style/routine is unique.  I don't sit down to write until I'm inspired to write the next scene.  That comes through a lot of daydreaming and chipping away at the story...somewhat like an anthropologist chips away at the treasures buried in the sand.  I let the characters speak to me and let the story whisper itself to me.  Then I pull out the laptop and put it all down in the story.  It's really a lot of fun!

4. What was the hardest part of writing this novel?
The hardest part was having to put off the writing until I was done with homework or until I got home from my day job.  It was almost like Cicada was my baby, and I had to put her in daycare while I was away at work or class...

5. Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Absolutely!  There's a tiny bit of me in all of my characters, I suppose.  But I don't know which one is most like me.

I didn't put myself into the character of Blair in the sense that it was me doing all those things in the story.  It just felt like I was writing down what someone else was doing while she was doing it.  But I think there's a bit of me in her, as well. :-)  Probably that stubborn streak she's got! LOL!
Now for some fun facts:

6. Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate! <3 nbsp="" p="">
7. Night owl or early bird?
Night Owl!  Hoot Hoot!

8. And finally, where is your reading (or writing) refuge?
I have two reading refuges: 1. My car during lunch break 2. My bed at home. My writing refuge is usually somewhere in my bedroom.  At my desk, on the floor, or sitting on the bed. :-)

Many warm thanks for having me over to your lovely blog for a cup of cappuccino and a chance to get to know you and your readers!  This really has been a lot of fun! :-)

Thank you, Belle! And now for a giveaway! Belle has graciously offered 1 e-book copy of Cicada. Enter the form below to win!

RULES 
- You must be 13 or older to enter
- You must be a follower to enter
- Open internationally!
- Please use the Rafflecopter form below
- Giveaway ends at 12:01 AM EST on December 6
- Winner has 72 hours to respond to my e-mail. If the winner doesn't respond by that time, I choose another winner.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Author Interview and Giveaway: Marie-Therese Browne


Marie-Therese Browne is the author of Olga - A Daughter's Tale, a non-fiction novel about her mother's life that I really enjoyed. Check out my review.

1. There’s a lot of history in this book. How long did it take you to research?

It took me about a year to do the research for ‘Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’.  My first step was to go to the reference department in my local library in my home town of Brighton in the UK - that gave me the history. 

I also went to the National Archives in Kew just outside of London, which holds over 1,000 years of the UK government history plus documents such as ships’ passengers lists dating back to the 1800s. I went there to see if I could find any members of the Browney family (Olga’s family) listed on any of the ships that sailed from the West Indies to London since some of them did make these trips.

I also referred to archived newspapers to give me a sense of the history for the period I was writing about.

And, of course, the biggest research resource of all was Olga’s sisters whom I finally traced.  I visited them in Jamaica and they gave me lots of information.  It was from them I found out about Jamaica’s folklore, namely Obeah (witchcraft) and how, not only the family dabbled in it, but that it was practised all over the island.

2. Now that Olga – A Daughter’s Tale is finished, do you ever think of writing another book? If so, what genre would it be?

Yes, I do plan to write another book and it picks up from where ‘Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’ finished.  In order words the sequel!  Unfortunately, time constraints relating to my full time work mean I cannot start it until next year.

3. Do you keep in contact with the relatives you found in Jamaica?

I did for about three years but now much to my disappointment, no.  All of Olga’s siblings have now died and though I was in touch with some cousins for a while, we’re not any more.

4. What is the message you want to send to readers through Olga – A Daughter’s Tale?

There isn’t really a message per se.  What I wanted to do was share Olga’s story but what I’ve learned through feedback from readers is, that having read my book knowing it was written as the result of genealogical research, some have decided to look into their own family history.  The fact they’ve enjoyed the book and as a result want to research their family is a double win for me!

5. How long did it take you to write this book?

Once the research was out of the way and I found the voice to use to tell the story, the actual writing took about 9 months.  I couldn’t do it full time because I was working.

Now for some fun facts:

6. What is the first book you remember reading by yourself?

The first books I ever read were Enid Blyton’s Famous Five Books.  I can’t remember the name of the first one but I was totally hooked on them and had to read them all. Loved them

7. What is your favorite comfort food?

Has to be chocolate but Mars Bars in particular.

8. Coffee or tea?

Coffee – Blue Mountain from Jamaica

9. And finally, where is your writing (or reading) refuge?

My writing refuge is wherever my laptop is!  My reading refuge is my bed.  I love reading in bed just before I go to sleep.

Thanks so much, Marie! I love reading in bed before I go to sleep too. :)

Marie has graciously offered 3 copies of her book to giveaway. 1 print copy, and 2 e-books. Please be sure to specify in the "extra info." section of your mandatory entry which one you want, or if you would accept either format. Thank you!

RULES:

- In the extra info. section of your mandatory entry, please specify if you want a print copy, an e-copy, or would take either one.

- You must be 13 or older to enter
- You must be a follower to enter

- Open internationally!
- Please use the Rafflecopter form below
- Giveaway ends at 12:01 AM EST on November 30
- Winner has 72 hours to respond to my e-mail. If the winner doesn't respond by that time, I choose another winner.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update #1


Things are going much better than expected! For one thing, I have a little over 23,000 words written. Not too shabby. :) I think it's going easier than I expected, because the last time I did this, I squeezed 1 week of writing (roughly 11,700 words) into 3 days. Doing a little over 1,600 words a day is no problem compared to that.

However, I am starting to feel the pressure. Before I started writing, I had a firm beginning and ending in mind. Those are now written. So now I'm getting to the parts I haven't thought through. I have some idea of how to link them together, but I didn't outline the middle part very much.

Basically, starting tomorrow, I'm going to be in uncharted territory. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time. But that's exactly what NaNoWriMo is all about, right? Ignoring fears and just putting words to paper.

Here's to another 20 days of productive writing!

How is everyone else doing with NaNoWriMo? Is it easier, harder, or about the same? Any unexpected developments? I'd love to know!