Renee Writes

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Liebster Award – My Second Nomination! :-D

First of all, thank you to Allison D. Reid for nominating me for this award. It’s the second time I’ve been nominated since starting this blog a few years ago, so that’s pretty cool. 😀

Now to answer Allison’s questions:

1. What is your favorite book, or if you prefer, your favorite author?

This always changes with my mood, but so far Terry Goodkind is probably my ultimate favorite. I absolutely love his Sword of Truth series. 😀

2. Is there a country you have always wanted to visit, if so where?

It’s a tie between Scotland and Italy. Scotland because it’s just so beautiful, and I’ve always wanted to see it in real life. And Italy because my mom is of Italian descent, and it would be nice to see the place where some of my ancestors have come from.

3. What do you enjoy about blogging, and how has your blog changed in unexpected ways since you started it?

I originally started my blog to share my writing and gain new readers. Since then, it’s also turned into a place where I share what I learn about writing and the industry with other authors as well. I love blogging as long as it’s not something I HAVE to do and something I just do when the mood strikes me. I find I enjoy it a lot more when I’m not forcing myself. It’s another way for me to get my thoughts out of my head and maybe entertain/inform others in the process.

4. What’s your preferred writing and/or blogging space?

My desk is in the lounge room right next to a huge sliding glass door that overlooks our back yard. I love having the TV going behind me for background noise when I write/blog. When the weather is nice, I also like to take my laptop out onto the deck and sit outside to write. I haven’t had much chance to do that with the hot weather, but it’s cooling down now. Just have to wait for a rain free day. 😀

5. How do you find inspiration?

I don’t often have to go looking for inspiration. It generally comes to me in the form of dreams and a very vivid and overactive imagination. When I do need inspiration, usually for short stories, I use a plot generator to get my creative juices flowing. I don’t use one idea though. I usually read through a few of them until inspiration strikes and my imagination takes over.

6. What do you like to do for fun when you need a break from writing (or from your blog)?

Read… I read or play Star Wars: The Old Republic online. Or I watch movies with my family and play board games with my daughter. Sometimes we’ll even bake together or do science experiments, but that happens less often as she’s getting older.

7. What started you down the road of writing and/or blogging?

I’ve always liked telling stories I’d make up on the spot. My friends thought I was crazy, but they loved my stories. I never considered writing them down until I was in college. My English instructor suggested I get some of my work published. But it still took a while before I finally came around to making a career of it. Blogging came naturally as a result, I guess. It just made sense to have a blog as a way to keep my readers informed.

8. Are there any Indie authors you would recommend to readers looking for a good book?

Yes, definitely. If you like epic fantasy with a steampunk feel and assassins, you’ll really love Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge series. You can download the first book free on Amazon. I’m also really enjoying Joshua Robertson’s dark fantasy book, Melkorka. It’s taking me forever to read because I’m more tired than usual lately and I fall asleep almost as soon as I start reading (that’s normal for me when my immune system is out of whack). And I’m loving Allison’s Wind Rider Chronicles too. It’s Christian fantasy, but its themes are subtle and non-preachy if that kind of thing bothers you. It’s a really good story, and I definitely recommend it.

9. How do you keep yourself motivated?

I don’t have to be motivated to write. If I don’t write my anxiety and stress levels go through the roof. Writing keeps me sane, and I love it. There are days I don’t feel like getting my brain in gear, but I just tell myself I’ll write and paragraph and stop, but I very rarely stop after a paragraph.

10. What superpower would you choose and why?

Considering I don’t have a car, flying would be a good one to have. Even if I did have a car, flying would be awesome!

11. What four people would you invite to a dinner party; contemporary, historical, or fictional?

Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi most definitely. I mean, real Jedi in my house. How cool would that be? Jamie Oliver, because I’d need his advice and help with the menu. And my grandfather. I didn’t get to see him before he died, so I’d love to see him one last time. Preferably as a spirit and not a zombie…

I’m supposed to nominate 11 others, but just about everyone I would nominate have already been nominated recently, and the rest don’t have blogs. So I’m breaking the rules this time. I nominated people last time, so I think I can get away with it. 😉

 

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Author Spotlight: The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have Tiffany McDaniel with her debut novel, The Summer that Melted Everything. Tiffany shared a bit about herself in an interview, but first…

An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. She is the winner of the Not-the-Booker Prize for her debut novel, The Summer that Melted Everything, which was a Goodreads Choice Award double nominee.

About the Book

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperature as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestle with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

Get it Today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Keep reading for an interview with the author:

“I MELT WITH YOU FOR THAT ETERNAL ALWAYS”
Original Watercolor by Tiffany McDaniel

Why did you decide to be a writer?

Writing is the first thing I remember doing as a child without being told to do so. I’ve always had an innate desire to write down what’s in my head. I never decided to be a writer. I just embraced the story within me.

What inspires you to write?

For me, the inspiration always comes from the characters. I’m inspired to write a story that honors the characters and honors their truths.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

I have eight written novels and on average they’ve taken me a month to write. One novel I wrote in eight days. My pace may sound fast but I don’t like for the story to sit for too long or it loses its essence. The quality control comes in the drafting and copy-editing stages, which can take longer.

What are your goals as an author?

My goal would be to make a career out of words. I hope to be an author that readers can trust with their time and that I not only entertain with my writing but that I also write something that encourages thought. I hope to be part of a larger conversation. A conversation about who we are. A conversation about who we want to be.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

Aside from writing, I enjoy the outdoors and doing things in nature like gardening. I also like baking. Art is a big part of my life and I use all mediums from charcoal to pastel, pencil to paint. I also love film.

“THE TRUE DEVIL EXISTS IN THE START OF A MAN”
Original Watercolor by Tiffany McDaniel

How many books do you have on your “to read” list? What are some of them?

I have quite a few. The new Shirley Jackson biography by Ruth Franklin and Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco among them.

What is your writing process?

I never outline or plan the story ahead. I like for the story to evolve one word and one page at a time. Directing a story too much can domesticate it. I like to preserve the story’s wild soul.

How do you come up with the titles for your books?

I always start writing a new novel with the title and the first line. These two things put me on the path to the rest of the story. Titles can come from anywhere. In the case of The Summer that Melted Everything, it was one of those Ohio summers that was so hot I felt like I was melting. A little arranging of words, and the title was born out of true heat.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

My advice would be to never give up. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything, which is my first published novel but my fifth or sixth written. For me it was a long eleven year journey full of rejection and perseverance. For those writers still on the journey to publication, it’s important to never give up and never turn your back on your dreams.

Author Spotlight: Rise of the Darkwitch by Ziv Gray

Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have Ziv Gray with the first book in her series, Rise of the Darkwitch.

Born in Belfast on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, Ziv Gray writes for inclusion.

Passionate about issues of mental health and LGBTQA+ rights and representation, Ziv seeks to highlight social issues – but can’t resist the allure of sci-fi and fantasy.

Ziv lives in Northern Ireland with husband Barry, rescue Lurcher, and four guinea pigs.

 

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About the Book

 

Emmy’s a freak. They call her a Darkwitch. A demon.

All her life as an abused apprentice in Krodge’s Apothecary, she’s wondered: who am I? When the Masvams attack, Emmy loses her home, her mistress, her life – but the changes bring more knowledge about her heritage than she ever dreamed of knowing.

The Masvam crown lies at the tips of Prince Mantos’s fingers, but his brother wants it more. Bandim will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He’ll use dark magic. He’ll even kill.

There’s more to Emmy than the moons’ light shows.

Mantos faces a dark choice: kill his brother, or be killed.

Both must answer the question:

Who are you?

Get it today on Amazon!

 

Keep reading for an interview with the author:

 

Why did you decide to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen, and found it to be the best way to cope. I had difficult teenage years, dealing with mental health issues and being queer in a Catholic school. The easiest way to work through my problems was to write. The habit stuck, and sixteen years later, I’m a published author.

What genres do you write?

Young adult fantasy primarily, but also historical fiction.

What inspires you to write?

Helping young people to deal with their own issues. My aim is always to let young LGBTQIA people see themselves in fiction, not as victims, but as protagonists with epic storylines.

How often do you write?

Every day, without fail. Sometimes it’s only a few hundred words, but I do write every day.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

Six months from start to final edit, usually.

What authors and books have most influenced you?

Cliché as it is now, the Harry Potter series. Also David Eddings’s Belgariad and Malloreon books. More recently, George R.R. Martin.

What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?

Self-publicising. Self-publishing is essentially easy. You follow the steps and boom, your book it out there. Getting people to actually buy it is the difficult bit, and I’m not very good at getting people to do that.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I decided to be brave and just go for it! It hasn’t been easy and I’m still learning a lot. Essentially, I was fed up of waiting to be found.

What fears do you have about writing and being an indie author? How do you cope with your fears?

I fear I’ll languish in the bottom of the charts until the end of times… Or that I’ll waste a huge chunk of money on advertising that does not thing for me.

What is your writing process?

Bum on seat, earphones on, 25 minute timer set–and go! Repeat until exhausted.

What are you working on now?

The sequel to Rise of the Darkwitch.

What inspired your current work?

It’s turning out to be a YA inspired by Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. Perhaps a strange combination, but there’s magic and murder. Just not as much as in A Song of Ice and Fire.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

I suppose it was having the courage to persevere and get it done. It’s so hard when you have no idea what the outcome will be. There’s nothing worse than seeing ‘zero sales.’

How do you market/promote your work? Have you found something that works really well for you?

I find this to be the most challenging part of the indie publishing process. I’m not good at self-propelled. I’ve found that playing around with my price point has worked to stimulate sales. Also, offering the novel free on KDP for a week was helpful, although I don’t know if I’ll be re-enrolling for another 3 month term.

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