Change is good. Change is exciting. And sometimes change just plain sucks.
It had taken me years to write, edit and fine tune Honorable Disgrace, another year or more of submissions, enduring a pile of rejections. Until I queried Creative Prose Publishing. After only a few days, they emailed back saying they wanted my full ms. I was thrilled and quickly sent my waiting ms off only to bite my nails waiting for their response. With the return of their email in late September, my dream came true. I'd been accepted for publication. And on February 2, 2015, my book baby was born.
About a month ago, I received a heart wrenching email from my publishers. They were closing. Shutting down. After only a few months on the market, my book was going to be unpublished.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. With this new knowledge, I had a decision to make. Return to the endless submissions and hope I could find an agent or publisher before Honorable Disgrace was taken down, or go the indie route.
I quickly sent off a query to an agent I'd been tracking, and tried to hold back the tears as the rejection came only 12 hours later. And that is when the doubt came. Maybe I wasn't meant to be a writer. Maybe I sucked. I turned to my fantastic writing friends and they buoyed my spirits and my resolve. I sent out a flurry of queries, but also decided on a date. If I hadn't heard back by May 15th, I'd go the indie route. I'd researched it. I'd wavered on the fence for years and, I'd watched others I knew prove successful at it.
While I am sad about the turn in events, because Creative Prose was a fantastic publisher to work with, and Cindy and Sherry were amazing and I know it was not an easy decision on their part to do what they did, change can be good. And so the deadline has come. I've received several more rejections, mostly about how they "don't deal with previously published books, but please send my other books to them" (positive in one respect, but not helpful in this situation) but I have not received an acceptance. So to keep Honorable Disgrace out there to the world because Angie's story has to be told, I've decided to get off the fence and jump into the indie world of publishing.
To celebrate this change, for a limited time you can purchase
for free starting tomorrow, 5/19/2015
But get it quick, promo ends 5/20/2015!
Before I end, I'd like to thank Creative Prose for giving me a chance and embracing Honorable Disgrace with such enthusiasm and love. I wish them luck on their ventures and am so grateful to them and to all the other fantastic authors at Creative Prose.
Several days ago, I began a project that at first glance, seemed straightforward and easy. So, I jumped right in with both feet and a smile. The project? Re-tiling a small section of floor that my wonderful daycare children had ruined over the years with their tiny fingers pluck, pluck, plucking at the corners and breaking off pieces. I figured it would take me an afternoon. Ha!!! It turned into an almost three day ordeal.
I started out with a 4" putty knife, and a Dyson vacuum. Placing the edge of the putty knife next to a ruined corner, I pushed and pried and prodded, using far more muscle in my back, shoulders and arms than I would have thought necessary. After a few tiles, I sat back on my heels and thought "there's got to be a better way." I quickly added my hairdryer, the heat loosening the adhesive backing. It helped, but still took a fair amount of elbow grease. Several hours later, I plucked the last tile from the floor and surveyed the sticky residue adhering to the painted sub-floor. Now came the next thought, how to get the residue off.
Now some of you might think, why didn't I just put the new vinyl tile down? I wish it were that simple. Vinyl tile is very unforgiving and if there is even a small imperfection on the floor, a dip, a bump, a blemish, it will eventually show through in the tile and wear off the finish or crack the tile. So began the menagerie of substances designed to removed gooey guck. I tried Goo Gone, Solu-mel (both diluted and undiluted) a special adhesive remover designed specifically for said adhesive. I even tried putting sand from the sand box on top of it and then sanding it. All that happened was now I had a colorful stuck on layer of sand and a ruined sanding belt. It wasn't until my husband brought in a can of paint stripper. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "why not."
It worked. It came up like butter.
Then I sanded, filled in holes, sanded again, filled in more holes, sanded and then painted the floor. Finally, after days of backbreaking work and achy bruised knees, I was able to place the first tile down, and in as little as 40 minutes, I had a new beautiful surface.
Then, I began the next project, which was a larger section of floor, same job as before.
I'm sure at this point you are asking, what in the world does flooring have to do with plotting. I'm getting there. I promise.
As I worked on the new section, I thought about what I had learned from the first go round and what knowledge I now had to make this larger area go quicker. And then as my thoughts often do, they drifted to writing and more specifically a writing workshop I took the other weekend. As I went back and forth thinking of these two seemingly unrelated topics, I realized, my flooring experience is not so unlike my writing experiences.
If you remember, the first section I just jumped headlong into. And that's how I write. By the seat of my pants. But I have often thought, how much easier it would be with some planning and outlining. But try as I might, I get impatient and just want to get started. Which there is absolutely nothing wrong with that approach. So fellow pansters, pants away.
But remember, there is a time to plot. And here comes in my second section of flooring. I had my experience to learn from with the first section, so now I was prepared. I now had a better heat gun to release that adhesive in seconds, a better shop vacuum, knee pads, and the added benefit of knowing the best way to remove the residual stickiness. Now, you can take your rough draft, your first chunk of your book, and stop pansting and take a moment to outline and plot.
Martha Alderson has made it a whole lot simpler with her plot planner. Divide your manuscript up into four parts and each of the major events in the pictured planner should fall as outlined.
When your MC realizes life is no longer as they know it, that is the beginning of the end and should be about 1/4 of the way in. Halfway through is your re-commitment scene, which can be confused with the crisis, but this is where something happens to your MC whether internally or externally that makes them shift their view on their current issue or problem. At the 3/4 mark, this is where your MC regroups after completely reaching bottom. They've just had a major crisis and they aren't sure how to deal with it. Here is where they regroup and take over. Things stop happening to them and they start making things happen. At the climax, we should see a transformation of your MC and a resolution to all the turmoil.
The tools I had to finish the second section of flooring helped me greatly to get the job done quicker. Could I have done it without the improved tools? Sure. But it would have taken longer and it might not have turned out as well and if would have been far more painful for me. When you write, you need to make sure you are equipped with the best tools you can find. If you like the Plot Planner, I'd recommend you get a copy of Martha's book or find the right plot tool that works for you. Your finished work will be all the more beautiful for the hidden, underlying hard work you put into it.
The finished floor.
I think I did a pretty good job *pats self on back*
Honorable Disgrace has been out just over two months and to commemorate I am giving away two signed copies. Please share and good luck!
ABOUT Falling to Pieces
Suffering the bitter tongues of her alcoholic mother and cruel boyfriend, Jade struggles just to look at herself in the mirror. She hates her life, her insecurities, her ineptitudes, but most of all . . . Jade hates herself. She wants nothing more than to disappear, and everyone seems happy to let her. Until Kiernan Parks moves back into town.
Jade’s been crushing on him ever since kindergarten, when his family moved away. But now he’s back, and looking better than ever.
Hiding is a way of life for Jade, but Kiernan insists on uncovering the real girl he’s sees trapped inside her. On drawing her out of her shell, and showing her that she is someone worthy of love.
Together, they fight back the darkness she’s living in. But when they finally step into the light, will the secret Kiernan’s been trying to keep buried destroy Jade, once and for all?
For some people, happy endings are a fairytale.
In a word, WOW!
Starting out, I was bogged down by all of Jade's internalization and negativity, but the further I read, the more compelling Jade's story became. I couldn't put it down. I found myself grabbing my phone (I had the Kindle version) and reading wherever I could find time. I don't like to give spoilers, so I won't, but the emotion Jamie's words evoked was palpable. I truly felt the self-loathing, the anger, the hurt, the hope, the new love, anguish, and so much more. Jamie writes as though she has experienced this herself, which makes my heart hurt for her if she has, makes it hurt the way it hurts for Jade. I cannot wait to read to continuation of Jade's story in Pieces of My Heart, book #3 in the Pieces Series, but not until I read Angel, book #2.
A bit about Jamie . . .
I am a full time author of YA literature, which I absolutely love! When I'm not writing or spending time with my family, I can usually be found with my nose in a book. I currently reside in Ravena, NY with my wonderful husband and three crazy kids . . . plus the cat, the bird and the rabbit.
Please help me welcome my guest today, author Debra Chapoton. The first time I heard of Debra was when I attended an online book launch party on Facebook and I was lucky enough to win a copy of her 'A Soul's Kiss'. A short time later, I was privileged to become welcomed into a fantastic group of woman authors, of which Debra is one, when Creative Prose Publishing accepted my YA novel for publication. I feel privileged to have had the chance to get to know such an amazing author. And now you get the chance, too.
Stephanie: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Debra: I am a Christian, wife, mom, teacher, and avid game player. I love words, grammar, editing, writing and rewriting. I designed and built a full log home where I feel like I’m on perpetual vacation (You can see a slide show of it on my blog: http://debrachapoton.com ).
Stephanie: I've seen pictures of your lovely log home and am green with envy. I can just imagine your cozy writing space. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Debra: I started writing in 2002 after a teaching colleague of mine challenged his eleventh grade students to write a novel during the school year. I thought if they could do it, so could I. I wrote every day during summer vacation and by fall I had completed the first book in a middle grade series (THE SECRET IN THE HIDDEN CAVE, currently free on Kindle). I was hooked on the excitement of what these imaginary characters were going to do next. Since then, I’ve written twenty novels, most of which are published.
Stephanie: Wow, twenty novels. That's a book and a half per year. It took me 5 years to write my first one. Where do you get your ideas?
Debra: I pull ideas out of thin air, just like everyone else. I suspect there’s an area in the brain, where dreams come from, which helps a lot. I get inspiration mostly from people I know. Former students are a wealth of novel ideas for me.
Stephanie: I love the world. So much inspiration. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Debra: I usually write by the seat of my pants. I get an idea and sometimes I know the ending so I write that first, then I start at the beginning and spend months writing about five pages a day trying to find out what happens next. I’m always surprised. I usually rewrite the ending three or four times when I finally get back to it.
I have written with an outline as well, but that was for a two book re-telling of the story of Moses. I needed to keep the order of events straight even though I set the story in post-apocalyptic America, 2093. This futuristic sci-fi series will be out later this year so look for EXODIA and OUT OF EXODIA.
Stephanie: I am super intrigued. Can't wait for them to be out. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Debra: Whenever I’m asked this question I immediately think of Dean Koontz whose books terrified and intrigued me. So many of his settings include a log cabin in the forest. Kind of like where I live now. I get a lot of inspiration from dark nights, scary sounds, and the spooky woods, evidenced by my first and second young adult novels: EDGE OF ESCAPE and SHELTERED, one a psychological thriller and the other a paranormal haunting.
Stephanie: Dean Koontz is great. You know its a well written book, when you are terrified by it. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Debra: I started looking for an agent or a publisher just before the industry went digital. That meant printing out multiple copies of my precious manuscript and spending many dollars on mailers and postage. The prospect of self-publishing at no cost through Amazon appealed to my thrifty nature so I started uploading my kids’ series and my first YA novel, EDGE OF ESCAPE. By some miracle of discovery, an editor for a major German publisher contacted me about EDGE and wanted to include it as one of four premier novels in its newest imprint. The advance was substantial especially after converting euros to dollars and I loved the irony of me, a Spanish teacher, having my novel translated into German.
Stephanie: That is a fantastic accomplishment. I know several self-published authors and that is truly a dream for an indie author to have a publisher come to them and ask to publish your novel. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Debra: EXODIA will be out later this year. The following is quite possibly the back cover blurb:
Two generations after the Eurasian nuclear war American life is a strange mix of failing technologies, psychic predictions, and radiation induced abilities. By 2093 tattoos on the left elbow, blue or red, are mandatory to differentiate two classes, privileged and slave.
Sixteen year old Dalton Battista fears that his fading tattoo is a deadly omen. He is either the heir of the brutal Blue tyrant of Exodia or he is the Reds’ prophesied liberator. Shy, handsome, smart and in possession of powers he doesn’t yet realize, he escapes an order for his execution by fleeing the city with the help of Lydia who quickly captures his heart. But he cannot escape a destiny that will force him to accept a role in the life of another girl, one who is not tattooed.
Exodia is a dystopian novel of hidden identity, murder, slavery, prophecies, plagues, and a love triangle that pits the truth of ancient promises against duty, honor, and devotion.
Stephanie: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Debra: Um, my first kiss shows up in varying interpretations. Painful or embarrassing moments tend to get reenacted as well, but for the most part it’s all fiction.
Stephanie: Lol, you never can forget a first kiss, whether they are great or disgusting, weird or awkward. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Debra: I thought I might like to take the characters in SHELTERED, a demonic paranormal tale, to another level. The ones that survived, that is. Mwa-ha-ha.
Stephanie: I getting a feeling there is a darker side to this pretty blonde. :-) Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Debra: Thank you for your support and keep those reviews coming. If you’ve only read one of my novels, please consider checking out another one. Here are some quick synopses of my young adult novels:
EDGE OF ESCAPE — Eddie is brilliant but emotionally impaired. He fixates on popular Rebecca, abducts her, and then tries to be her rescuer as she escapes his traps. Stalking gets a strangely sympathetic twist in this story of obsession and survival.
A SOUL’S KISS — When a tragic accident leaves Jessica comatose, her spirit escapes her body. Navigating a supernatural realm is tough, but being half dead has its advantages. Like experiencing romance on a whole new plane - literally.
SHELTERED —Paranormal meets psycho meets Goth in this story of demonic occurrences and budding love. One by one strange and mysterious events stretch five teens’ belief in the supernatural.
THE GUARDIAN’S DIARY —When 17 year old Jedidiah finally learns to accept his handicap, he opens his heart to a girl who pities him. But by doing so he risks losing the love of another girl, one who can mend his broken soul.
You can find links to all my books here: http://www.amazon.com/Debra-Chapoton/e/B003MX4NCS/
Thank you so much Debra for sharing all of your amazing accomplishments and talents with us. I look forward to reading more of your books and all of you can look for my reviews of those books to come. 'A Soul's Kiss' review will be posted in the next few weeks so make sure to check back.
This is extremely overdue, but could not be overlooked. I have been overwhelmed with life events in the past month and have not been able to get to these much needed thank you's. I had so much help with the launch of Honorable Disgrace and I just want everyone to know how much I appreciated all of your efforts and support. Even a month out from publication it still seems surreal that I am a published author. I've had the dream for so long, and I knew deep in my heart that I would achieve it one day because I am just that stubborn, but it is, nonetheless, amazing, daunting, and gratifying all at the same time.
So, on to the recognition. Thank you to:
Creative Prose Publishing - Sherry Gammon and Cindy Bennett, two wonderful ladies!
Melinda from Unshelfish Book Blog
The Sugar Shack Books
My library, Lewis and Clark Public Library
And everyone who purchased a book, shared my posts, subscribed to my blog, and supported me on starting this journey. Here's to many more happy writings and many more relationships along the way.
January 26, 2015 ~ Interview by Caudia Y. Burgoa
January 27, 2015 ~ Interview by Janet Fox
January 28, 2015 ~ Book Review by Sherry Gammon
January 28, 2015 ~ Spotlight On Reader Girls by Laurie Treacy
January 29, 2015 ~ Interview on Bridging The Journey: Theresa Nichols Schuster
January 30, 2015 ~ Spotlight by Debra Chapoton
January 31, 2015 ~ Spotlight on Norma's Novels
February 1, 2015 ~ Interview by Mrs. Menagerie
February 2, 2015 ~ OFFICIAL BOOK BIRTHDAY ~ Help me celebrate by purchasing your own copy
February 3, 2015 ~ Interview by Author Tifani Clark
February 3, 2015 Online Book Launch Party
February 4, 2015 ~ Book Review on Unshelfish by Melinda Hence
February 5, 2015 ~ Interview by Annette T Dodd
February 6, 2015 ~ Spotlight by Creative Prose Publishing
February 8, 2015 ~ Spotlight by Sugar Shack Books
February 9, 2015 ~ Interview by Cindy Bennett
February 10, 2015 ~ Interview by M.M. Roethig
February 12, 2015 ~ Author Reading and Signing @ Lewis & Clark Public Library
Susan and I crossed paths back in September at the SCBWI conference. At the time, I wondered why her name was so familiar to me. Only when I returned home and started to do some updates on my social media did I realize we were following each other on twitter. Lol.
I am so excited to have Susan Adrian with me today, especially since her debut novel, TUNNEL VISION, will be out in just a few days. Five days to be exact. So lets dig in, get to know Susan, and find out more about her fantastic YA thriller.
Stephanie: One of the tried and true, good ol' questions. Have you always dreamed of being a writer? And how long have you been writing?
Susan: I've been writing poems and stories since I was a kid—I remember having a story about my cat posted in the local paper when I was 10 or so. I didn't try my hand at a book until about 14 years ago, though. I just didn't ever think my ideas were original enough. More life was needed!
Stephanie: Tunnel Vision has taken quite a few turns in getting to where it is now. When you first envisioned or were struck with the idea for Tunnel Vision, did you have any idea it would turn out to be what it is?
Susan: The story of TUNNEL VISION is an unusual one. I actually quit writing completely after about 10 years of frustration and not-quite-getting-there. I decided I was tired of banging my head against a brick wall, and gave myself permission to just stop it all. But my brain couldn't stop telling stories. To get myself to sleep at night, I started telling myself a story in my head, carrying over from night to night, about a boy who had an ability the government wanted. When it got so exciting I was staying awake until 3 am imagining it, I finally gave in and wrote it down. That story became TUNNEL VISION. It's developed more, and the ending point changed. But much of it is the same as I imagined it to be.
Stephanie: How long after you returned to writing, did you get started on Tunnel Vision and how long did it take you to finish it?
Susan: I returned to writing FOR Tunnel Vision, and once I started writing it down I finished a rough draft in about 10 weeks.
Stephanie: I am so glad you didn't quit writing, though I do understand your feelings. I was getting there myself. If you hadn't returned to it, we would not have this great story to look forward to. When I first heard of Tunnel Vision and that you were from Butte, my first thought was something to do with the mines. It is definitely way cooler than that, but have you ever thought about doing a story of the mines?
Susan: No, not really. The topic just hasn't appealed to me yet. I start with a character in a situation, and go from there. But I won't rule it out—maybe someday a miner character will inspire a story.
Stephanie: We met in September at the Montana SCBWI 2014 Fall Conference. You actually crashed it with your agent Kate Testerman, which was a treat to have you there with her and see the author/agent relationship and actually have you to answer our questions. During this, you stated the title changed along the way. What was your original title?
Susan: The original title was THE TUNNEL, which is the project name DARPA uses for Jake, my main character. When he uses his power, he "tunnels" to another person. But TUNNEL VISION fits so much better.
Stephanie: What does DARPA mean?
Susan: DARPA is an actual government agency. Website here: http://www.darpa.mil/default.aspx (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
Stephanie: So speaking of acronyms, are you a member of the SCBWI (Socitey of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators)? If so, how long have you been a member? Do you feel it helped you get where you are?
Susan: I am a member, and have been since 2009. I attended a very stimulating SCBWI conference in New York when I was just getting into the industry, and I think the SCBWI Book is very useful. I haven't availed myself of too many of the resources there, but I greatly appreciate what they do.
Stephanie: The SCBWI is an amazing organization. Without it, I think many authors would have given up. What is your current profession?
Susan: I'm a scientific editor, and have been for almost 20 years. I'm the Publications Editor and Chief of the Information Services department at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, the state's geologic survey. We're part of Montana Tech in Butte.
Stephanie: 20 years is quite a long time. The history of Butte is an amazing one, fraught with sadness, greed and corruption because of the mines. Recently my family visited the Mining Museum there at the tech and I have a niece currently attending Montana Tech. What brought you to Montana?
Susan: That job! My husband and I had both been laid off in California during the recession, and we did a nationwide job search. I hit first, we loved Butte when I came for the interview, and we've been here ever since. My parents followed us here too.
Stephanie: Well, I for one, and very glad you made it to Montana. I never would have met you otherwise. How did you find Kate?
Susan: I've been on Twitter for a long time, and I was aware of Kate there—and when it came time to query a new agent, I checked out her client list. I had read and loved so many of them, I knew she was a good match. I queried, and it worked out!
Stephanie: It definitely pays to do your homework. I remember Kate talking about how impressed she was with your query. What advice do you have to aspiring authors about this crucial yet terrifying step in the process? Do you mind if I include a link to your query letter?
Susan: Absolutely! The query letter, in a joint interview with Kate, is here: http://www.yahighway.com/2014/07/query-series-author-susan-adrian-and.html
My advice is to read TONS of queries, from a site like Query Shark, and see what works and what doesn't. Then write one and run it by your writer friends. My friends vastly improved mine, and some of the language that they contributed has made it through all the way to the book cover.
Stephanie: When it comes to queries, writing a book is the easy part. And it definitely pays to have good writing buddies. Can you tell us about TUNNEL VISION?
Susan: TUNNEL VISION is the story of Jake, who just wants to lead a normal life and get into Stanford, but he slips up at a party and shows off his secret ability, and the government finds out. Jake can hold any personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, and sense not only where that person is, but see what they're seeing and hear what they're hearing. He's a perfect, invisible surveillance unit, and the government "recruits" him to be a spy. But it gets more complicated when bad guys get interested too, and then when Jake isn't sure who the bad guys are anymore…
Stephanie: On your website, you tell us you are currently working on the sequel to Tunnel Vision. Can you tell us what dangers Jake is going to face and how are you going to up the ante? When can readers expect to see the sequel and do you have a name for it already?
Susan: The current title is TUNNEL VISION 2. I'm a titling genius. I can't say much, but I will say if you've read TV you know that it doesn't exactly all end with a pretty bow. Jake has a lot of work to do if he wants to be free and clear of all the mess that's happened. In the sequel he's free of the mess for about two pages, I think, before it all gets worse.
Stephanie: You are a titling genius :-) Very straightforward, lol. Your sequel sounds just as exciting as the first book. What else are you working on?
Susan: I'm also on submission with a middle grade book, a magical realism about a girl who gets to be Clara in the Nutcracker, and a new thriller about two sisters from Spain, and what happens when one of them pushes a stranger off of a cliff.
Stephanie: Where do you get your ideas?
Susan: I think ideas come from everywhere. They are a conglomeration of all the things you notice in your daily life, have experienced, and observe in other people…set off by a spark of an idea. I see where my imagination goes from there, and always, always, try to go the unexpected route. I think writers have to read enough to know what the expected route is, and avoid it!
Stephanie: When not reading and writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Susan: I like to travel with my family, and watch movies and TV on down time!
Thanks for this, Stephanie! It was great to meet you and hang out with other Montana writers!
Thank you so much Susan. It was great to learn more about you and I hope to see you at many more writing events around the state. We are planning a lot of changes and additions within the Montana SCBWI Chapter and will have some great spring events. Look for my spotlight on Susan's debut novel on January 20th. Can't wait to see what Jake does!
I am grateful to have Tifani on my blog today. I met Tifani through the internet. And maybe met is not the right word, since we've yet to meet in person. The first time I heard about her was through her sister-in-law who I attend church with. I'd been invited to a Facebook book launch party. Of course it piqued by interest, being an author myself, and it was actually through this that I found my publisher, Creative Prose Publishing. So thank you to Tifani for writing a book and getting it published and to her sister-in-law, Natalie, who without her invite I would not be where I am, soon to be published. But this isn't about me, its about Tifani. :-)
A brief bio about her before we go into some fun questions.
Tifani Clark grew up on a farm in southeastern Idaho (yes, that’s where they grow all the potatoes) as the middle of five children. She had a lot of space to imagine and daydream and often pictured herself as a character in one of the many books she read. She was habitually found pretending to be Scarlet O’Hara. Tifani loves mysteries and hates it when one goes unsolved. She is married to the love of her life and is the mother to four fabulous children. When not writing, she enjoys playing the violin and piano and traveling to new places. She especially enjoys visits to national parks and places of historical significance.
Stephanie: I too grew up in southeastern Idaho and even have a mangled finger to show for my work among the potato fields. And I am the middle of five children. Similarities abound. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Tifani: I can't remember a time that I didn't want to be an author--it just took me a long time to gather enough courage to try. I officially started writing in 2012.
Stephanie: Wow, and already with two published books to your name. You are inspiring. What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Tifani: You'll never know if you can do it if you don't try. Set a deadline for yourself to begin writing and just go for it. And, don't give up. Rejection is all part of the game.
Stephanie: Great advice. Can you describe for us your writing process?
Tifani: Each time I start a new book, I spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months mulling the idea over in my head. Then, I sit down and write a brief plot synopsis and character description so I know where I'm headed. After that, I start writing and let the story take me where it will. When I'm deep into writing a book, I dream about the characters or wake up with a plot problem on my mind almost every morning. Sometimes I'll lie in bed for hours writing dialogue in my head before I finally get up and put it on paper.
Stephanie: What books inspire you? What do you enjoy reading?
Tifani: I like to read a wide variety of books, but I get excited when I find a good suspense novel. I like to get scared. If an author can scare me, I'll stay up all night to finish the book.
Jamie Peters plans to spend the summer before her junior year with her nose stuck in a book—not saving lost souls. Usually the girl that blends into the crowd, Jamie’s world is turned upside down when a mysterious ghost begins to follow her.
But Sophia isn’t just any ghost.
A hundred years earlier, Sophia’s disappearance sparked a national mystery that remained unsolved. Jamie knows the legends surrounding Sophia’s disappearance, but she never dreamed she would find out what really happened . . . or that her family might have had something to do with Sophia’s disappearance.
Determined to set Sophia free, Jamie blows the dust off her family’s past and unearths clues to discover what she must do to save Sophia’s soul. She enlists the help of childhood friend—and secret crush—Peter Ashby as she sets off on a dangerous quest to find a missing map. Spending the night in a graveyard, crawling through a dilapidated barn, and staring down the barrel of a gun aren’t enough to deter Jamie from helping Sophia. But can she find the answers she needs before another ghost gets revenge on her and Sophia?
Stephanie: Shadow of a Life is your first published work and is part of a series. How long did it take you to write it?
Tifani: Shadow of a Life took 6 weeks to write. Before I ever wrote a work, the entire story was written in my head. I just needed to put it on paper.
Stephanie: Your most recent book, Haven's Waiting, was just released Monday, January 3. How long did Haven Waiting, the sequel to Shadow of A Life, take you to write?
Tifani: Haven Waiting took longer than the first for a few reasons. I spent a lot of time looking for a publisher for my first book and doing things to improve my writing so my time was limited. Then, school got out for the summer and with 4 kids at home, writing was put on hold. I finally wrote the ending about 6 months after I started it. That was a year ago.
Stephanie: How many more are in the series?
Tifani: Because each book tells the story of a ghost from an important time in history, the potential number of books could be really high. Almost from the beginning I had three distinct stories in mind. The third--still untitled--is almost finished. I have many more ideas, but sometimes I have to let my characters lead the way. Sometimes they surprise me.
Stephanie: It's amazing to see how, as an author, your characters really do seem to have a mind all their own and that they can surprise even the author.
I've read Shadow of A Life. It was very entertaining and fun to read. I loved Peter the most of all the characters. And you nailed Camille, jealous and a bit self-absorb, but truly a good friend. The main character Jamie, was hard for me to get into at first, but I think it was because she was so unsure of who she was as a person in the beginning of the book, it was hard for me to know who she was. But she really came through in the end. And what a twist you brought in with Haven's Waiting. A witch. Wow! How'd you decide that?
Tifani: I've always been fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials and what would possess people to act the way they did back then. I read many books as a child, but rarely re-read anything. One of the few exceptions was "The Witch of Blackbird Pond." When the idea to center Haven Waiting around the Salem Witch Trials first came to me, I thought Haven's unfinished business would be proving her innocence. However, before I even started writing, her character insisted that she wasn't as innocent as I thought she should be. Her story took off from there.
Stephanie: I don't know anyone who wouldn't be interested in that part of our country's history. What else are you writing? What's next for Tifani Clark?
Tifani: I have three stand-alone books that I've been sitting on for a while. They are all YA Suspense novels without any paranormal aspects. I grew up in a small town and all three books take place in rural areas of Montana, Idaho, and Arizona. It felt completely comfortable and natural to write them. I also have an idea for a women's fiction that might be the next idea to make it onto paper.
Stephanie: How does your life influence what you write?
Tifani: Like I mentioned earlier, I grew up in a small town and many of my characters have as well. I feel like I can relate to them. I don't purposely pattern characters after people I know, but sometimes they resemble people from my real life.
That makes sense. I find a lot of my characters are based on people I know. Some I model on purpose and others just come out organically on the page and then I realize later that they are based on someone I know. Thank you so much Tifani for taking the time to do this interview and I can't wait to read Haven's Waiting.
Fifteen-year-old Jamie Peters is a Soul Saver. She helps ghosts finish their business and move on. When a mysterious map comes into her possession, she knows a new adventure is waiting. With the help of her friends, Peter and Camille, she follows the map. Her friends hope to find treasure, but Jamie suspects there is more to the map than riches. She never imagined the map would lead her to Haven—and a book of spells.
Haven Mills was accused of practicing witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Unlike the other women hung during the trials, Haven wasn’t as innocent as she claimed to be. In one moment of weakness and desperation, she did something sinister—something that has been bringing evil to the world for centuries.
Jamie promises to help Haven, but the reality of what that promise entails comes back to haunt her as she fights not only for Haven’s soul, but for her own as well.
IMPORTANT LINKS FOR AUTHOR TIFANI CLARK
Haven Waiting on Amazon
Shadow of a Life on Amazon
Haven Waiting Blog Tour (and my blog)
Stephanie N. Pitman, Author
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