Strike Your Fears by Being An Active Participant In Your Writing Journey

M.A.Greene

Strike Your Fears by Being An Active Participant In Your Writing Journey

by M.A.Greene

This is for every writing reaching for publication. Mark Twain the famous author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, defined a word that we all need by saying “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

Sometimes people are not going to connect with your writing and you will have serious doubts about your writing at times. Some people may not hate your writing but they will not love it either. And sometimes it has nothing to do with mechanics of storytelling.

I read a young adult novel because I connected with an author’s youtube videos. The author’s videos helped me while drafting my manuscript and I still listen to other videos by this author when I have a chance to. Because of this, I know I will read another book by this author and there must be something  I am sure there will be something I will enjoy more. However, when I first read a novel by this author’s book, which is a popular book as well, I finished it from beginning to end but was not compelled to read more of the series.

I liked the main character and as a writer who has been studying the craft of writing through self-study, my writing group James River Writers and so forth, I realized she did everything right as far as plot, letting the reader get to know the character and pacing is concerned. Strangely I did not love the story nor the character that much.

It surprised me that I did not connect with the story even though I finished it. I even tried to analyze why I did enjoy the book much. Where matters irrelevant to writing affecting so I was not enjoying the story? Well, obviously not when I read another book I was engrossed directly afterward.

 What I now realize is that is ok. When I publish my stories, even if I make them the absolute best they can be, there will be people who do not have strong feelings about my story and characters in them.

This is my first attempt at revising a novel because my manuscript is the first novel I have written. I even read a novel on revising and had a game plan and awesome beta readers by my side. I had been revising and I believe doubt in other areas of my life had been seeping into my belief in myself about revising.

Also the mechanics of how to revise with my original game plan made me realized was not planned out enough as a part of it. I went through the rest of my novel and made notes about anything I could think of. Now I have another revising book from the library to help aid me to figure out the correct strategies.

One thing I am learning is truly understanding what I have heard before from other writers. Writing really is a personal journey. I am very grateful to my beta readers and my writing community for a warm and supportive environment. No matter how many books you read or how much about writing craft you study, someone else’s perfect method might not be yours. You have to figure out what works for you and utilize what you can from sources around you.

Also listening to author Kim Chance’s video on being a fearless writer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXcXx49stNk (Disclaimer: Kim Chance is not the author whose book I am referring to. I found her YA novel Keeper, to be engaging plot and looked forward to following Lainey’s adventures in the sequel)  made me realize how psychologically fears were holding me back as well.

I had the wonderful experience of pitching my story to two agents at the James River Writer 2017 conference, my first writing conference I attended. Both agents said when I could finish the revising my manuscript I could follow the submission guidelines and send them the requested part of my story.  That in itself was a wonderful and rare experience. But still, fears cling onto me.

I am not disillusioned about believing if something like being a New York Best Sellers list does not happen all is lost, such as when I was a teenager. This statement is in no way trying to put down teen writers. If it had not been writing in my teens, I know I would not be where I am today. It is only explaining my mindset as a teenager involving writing my stories. I realize that is not going to happen.

What did and am still having to do is fight through the fears: What will people think of me from reading this story? There are so many stories that I want to tell will be I judged for this one? What about other stories I want to tell in the future that are different in many ways from this story? Will I have the courage to tell other stories to the best of my ability and still not be that successful? If I am lucky and meet fans who want to learn more about my life, will they be disappointed I’m just a woman trying to get by and make her mark on the work in a good way as I grow? As I learned more about the publishing world, I realized sometimes writers could be rejected because their stories were already overly saturated in the market. Or simply the agent or editor did not connect with it. Wilp this be my luck? Why didn’t I start my serious writing journey a few years earlier such as during summer when my school load was not so heavy when I was in college?

The lessons I am learning are no matter what you wished you realized or understood earlier in life, all you can do is move forward. I am working on myself in other areas of my life. That requires being as honest as possible about what I need to do to be the best version of myself. That also requires me to attempt to have more compassion when trying not to judge myself and others too harshly. One way to be the best version of myself is to acknowledge that I will keep having times when fears and doubts keep swarming around me like mosquitos. What matters is I keep fighting. The best version of myself includes continuing my writing journey.

Sometimes fear is there to help you realize you need to stop and assess before making a move but other times it is there because you are only human. Taking the time to try and be honest with yourself is a great way to try and learn the difference.

Psychologically our memories and brains hold onto fear as a protection mechanism. It’s why often negative memories can be more vivid than happier ones. (https://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20070829/bad-memories-easier-to-remember) We need to be wise enough to learn when to fight through those fears.

So in the spring of 2017, I found a childhood object that reminded me of a story. It particularly reminded me of a character.  Characters that I had been putting on the back burner due to completing my education and striving for other goals in my life. They would sometimes emerge when I was eating new food and would instantly think of a character would eat the food, when shopping and how a character would react or even listening to a song and being reminded of one of them. I had various different versions of this story I had written parts of them off and on throughout the years.

The characters were pretty much consistent. And I had the realization, even if a bit dramatic, that this world, these characters, these stories would haunt me until I was on my deathbed if I didn’t write about them. One of my friends Blair Cousins, twitter name @blaireverywhere, had written her first book Ouji The Curious Cat, so saw first had it was possible for people in their twenties to publish a novel. I had heard my aunt tell me for years how she had stories she had with her since she was a teenager and they always stay with you.

 I listened to a reading of Langston Hughes poem “Dream Deferred” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79YjXKYeWCk. I had heard it before but it truly struck me that I needed to write that story and start my journey to be published writer and take it seriously. Memories of myself as a teenager who I had attempted to first write one of the versions of this story flooded my mind. Back during my teen year, I was reading Writers Digest magazines and dreamed of being a writer. Then memories of my childhood as I played with Barbie dolls release the stories inside of me also arose.

I have to thank that character. If it wasn’t for finding that object that was connected to her back in the spring of 2017, I don’t think I would have started my journey then. She is not even the main character of my story but she is in my manuscript. I thank the people in my life who followed their own dreams or encouraged me not to give up on mine. Even though I am still growing in all areas of my life, I am a writer. I am going to make my dreams come true.

It is so much easier when you are juggling responsibilities to put off writing.  Whether in your free time you are job hunting, spending time socially with friends, family obligations, working out, doing chores or just running errands and filling out paperwork. There will always be things in the way. I am not saying to be wise about when you start your journey. If you are in the middle of a major life change such as learning the ropes at a new job, starting a new school, or so forth you need to be mindful you might not be able to jump in like you want to that. But you can plan maybe the week after your starting to get settled when you can schedule a time to write and do brainstorming or read on the craft of writing in the meantime or listen to youtube videos.

 I do not know what my publication path will take me or how long. But I will not let fear of anything stop me from moving forward. When you have had stories with you as long as you were a child the only person who can truly bring them to life is you. Whether you are just starting your writing journey or have been on it for a long time. Keep reading to learn what you like and don’t like in stories. Keep writing to hone your craft. Keep smashing those fears and be an active participant in your writing life.

You can follow more info on my publishing journey and more at @MAGreene996 on twitter.

Book Review of Megan Tennant’s Aletheia


When I read the author has a degree in biology that was a hint Megan Tennant would add something new to the dystopian genre. That was only the beginning of something more spectacular. 736 is a complicated protagonist who lives in a world that makes readers shiver. She has standards but is real and flawed. This book engulfs the audience in every detail 736 experiences. It might not start off at the speed most novels of this genre do, but that’s because the relationships of various characters are examined with more depth many other dystopian novels. The author goes beyond simply giving readers a dystopian novel with twists and turns.

One unique aspect of Aletheia is many of gender norms in our present society are not the norm. However, there are many other aspects of this world that still present but far worst. For instance, social control, “a formal and informal way of increasing conformity and social norms” is still present in this novel. (The Real World: An Introduction To Sociology) It is very present when 736 and many others, in the compound, the institution the cured forced to wear bracelets that will give them pain when certain rules are disobeyed. The absolute monarchy “which usually have complete control over their subjects like dictators and constitutional monarchs” (The Real World: An Introduction To Sociology) is the Prophet. He is the religious leader and only one with the sacred cure to stop the spread of the disease. The price, however, is people’s memories from before they drink the cure will be gone even though your future memories are protected from extinction.

Aletheia does not gloss over anything that could happen in this post-apocalyptic world novel. Before readers even start, there is a trigger warning so they can go to a website with listed concepts in the story that might trigger someone who might suffer PTSD or might be unprepared for how vividly real this story can get. I finished the book by devouring 11 chapters in one day to discover how this story would end. The first word is “Who” and the last word is “death.” Read Aletheia to find out how everything is linked. I really do not think there is another book like this on the shelves.

M.A.Greene: Hello. I’m M.A.Greene a YA author reaching for publication. You can follow me on writing journey on Twitter @MAGreene96.

Antuan Vance Author Interview

M.A.Greene: Hello. I’m M.A.Greene a YA author reaching for publication. You can follow me on writing journey on Twitter @MAGreene96.
So can you tell us when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

Antuan Vance: Let’s see. I started writing a journal of sorts about love and crushes at the age of nine, and superhero stories around ten, but decided I’d write a series of poems when I was eleven. So, I’d say eleven was when I realized I wanted to be a writer, and write a book of poetry. It’s been a part of who I am for a long time. Now, it wasn’t until much later in my life that I truly committed to not just writing but finishing books.

M.A.Greene: That is great your passion has been with you so long. What are your favorite and least favorite genres and why?

Antuan Vance: Favorite genre is most likely science fiction because I grew up on it. I watched Star Trek and Star Wars, read the books. I’ve always loved the idea of the future, better technology, and a more mature society. Not to mention, all the cool toys. It’s hard to choose a least favorite genre, primarily because I simply stick with what I know and like. But knowing myself, I’d say non-fiction, biographies. I don’t like stuffy, dry material. I usually associate that with biographies, except for Stephen King’s In Writing.

M.A.Greene: Science fiction is a genre is never boring for sure. Speaking of science fiction, your novel The Catalyst falls in that category. Was this your first novel? And if so did you take the traditional publishing or self-publishing route?

Antuan Vance: Yes. The Catalyst was my first finished novel, and indie published. Patience proved to not be within my skill set after I finished that book. The whole post-writing process was tedious, confusing, frustrating, and painful. I intend on taking another stab at traditional publishing with the next novel.

M.A.Greene: How long did it take you to write The Catalyst first draft, then to finish the book?

Antuan Vance: I spent a lot less time writing in the time it took to write it, which was about two years. It was really the last three months or so I think where I smashed through half of the book. Finishing it took half the time.

M.A.Greene: Are there any other types of writing you enjoy?

Antuan Vance: On occasion, I’m known to rant or blog about justice, integrity, righteousness, reason/logic, and the typical do-the-right-thing soapbox speeches that I hope will inspire people to make better choices or see things in a better way. I have a blog, The Impervious Soul, which is primarily pointed towards living a better life and being a person who is a benefit to those around you. That writing is a major part of my purpose. Regretfully, I sparingly update it. In time, that will change.

M.A.Greene: In your own words can you give us a quick summary of what The Catalyst is about?

Antuan Vance: It’s about the last stand of evil, kicked around the galaxy, finding its final fighting grounds on Earth. But they’re defeated. Now, they’re desperate and willing and able to completely eradicate humanity while making a new home for themselves. It’s about a father trying to make a cleaner, better world for his daughter and adopted son, even if it means sacrificing himself to do it. It’s about teenagers on the run for their life. Facing unexpected challenges and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. It’s about friendship, obedience, trust, and faith.

M.A.Greene: Back to your novel, how did you develop the characters Levi, Abby, Violet and John Rider? Did you develop them prior to writing the book or during the process? Also, how did you come up for the aliens “The Red.”

Antuan Vance: There’s usually a little bit of me in every story, and Levi happens to be that bit this time. I started with the basic details of who my characters were, knew what kind of choices they were inclined to make, their motivations, and then let it all unfold during the process. Prepared more for Levi, Abbey, and Violet’s journey than John’s. His part of the story took on a life of its own.

The Red were something else. I knew I needed a villain that had incredible resources and influence. That’s why I gave them the powers they have. So they can be a challenge and are worthy of fear. I knew they were aliens, but their origin story wasn’t completely developed until later, when I had my bigger picture moment in chapter six.

But I saw them as evil lizard monsters, like dragons, like the devil in Genesis, but a species of people who turned away from good origins to serve an evil that promised more than he gave, and it turned them into monsters.

M.A.Greene: Speaking of references to the bible. Many of the characters in The Cataylst reference the bible and pray on many occasions. How did these aspects of the bible and God become something so interwoven in this story? Did you know that would central themes to your story beforehand or did the occur as you were writing it?

Antuan Vance: When creating my characters, I knew who was and wasn’t a believer, and that their choices and influence would reflect that. I wasn’t completely certain when certain verses would be quoted, but kept an eye out for opportunities as the story developed. At its core, it’s science fiction. However, I knew it had to exist in a universe with an all powerful God, and reference the story of our salvation. The opportunity to slip that in there was better than I thought. But the central theme was always going to tie into my faith, especially the lesson of obedience.

M.A.Greene: Are you familiar with the author Madeline L’Engle the author of A Wrinkle in Time? She wrote various book including fiction books that reflected her faith along with her interest in science?

Where there any other authors you enjoyed reading who had Christian faith based themes interwoven in what was centrally a science fiction or fantasy story?

Antuan Vance: To the first question, yes. A person of great value and purpose lended a copy. It took me a while to read it, as I’m not keen on books with child protagonists. Yet, I could appreciate the theme and intentions. I wrote a brief book review and posted it on Instagram. Didn’t care for the movie. Haven’t read any of her other stuff. Probably won’t.

This is going to sound odd, but Stephen King, well known as a horror writer, has written a number of books that had subtle and strong Christian undertones. The Stand had an older woman, almost like a prophet of sorts, who believed. The Man Jesus was mentioned several times in the Dark Tower series. Needful Things had a town influenced and manipulated by a devilish figure. I don’t seek out and read Christian books. But can see the influence of my faith in fiction.

M.A.Greene: Interesting. I have not gotten around to reading anything by Stephen King yet even though I have defiantly watched many of his movies and mini series. I probably will be examining his stories more so now that you have mentioned that whenever I get to reading it.

Back to your novel The Catalyst, minor spoiler alert, you have ADHD as a possible protective factor against the aliens The Red? How did you come up with that theory?

Antuan Vance: While ADHD has become a commonly diagnosed disorder, not all are equal or accurate diagnosis. I’ve come to understand that there’s a slight variance in how information is processed and stored in an ADHD brain compared to human default. I conceived it was an evolutionary and reactive disorder to combat current or future threats to our species. The variance in brain function is kind of like having a firewall in your brain. It can still be hacked or accessed, but with less ease. If a brain can hyper-focus, it can shut out outside influences. If a brain can shift easily from one subject to another, it’s like constantly changing frequencies or IP addresses, therefore making it harder to “log in” someone’s mind and maintain access or control. A brain is perhaps not so different from a supercomputer. Cognitive security could be the same as cyber security, assuming I have either of the two right in theory. I could just as easily be pulling this out of my butt.

M.A.Greene: That is definitely a unique way to use ADHD in your novel.
How did you decide to have a character like Pisces and why did you give her hands? Can you explain Pisces character?

Antuan Vance: Pisces was an audible. I had no intention of having her in the story. But I put John in a tough spot, sent Sasha on her way. He needed another ally. Someone to help him finish what he started and talk him off the ledge. Pisces was the perfect choice. I gave her hands because it’s more convenient for her. For all intents and purposes, she’s a person. It would be nice if she could make her own tuna sandwiches. Explain Pisces. I’m trying to think of a way to explain her without spoiling the broader explanation coming in the sequel. She’s was injected with the alien nanotech and given human intelligence, sapience. She’s just as much a part of the team as everyone else. Because of her predatory nature, she’s a little more aggressive and straight to the point than others. It makes her a great warrior.

M.A.Greene: She is defiantly an interesting character readers will enjoy getting to know. Would you categorize The Catalyst as a YA sci-fi or a New Adult sci-fi novel?

Antuan Vance: Originally, I thought both. Abbey and Violet are 17. Levi’s 19. Can’t remember if Jeremy’s 19 or 20. But since this is all happening the day before Abbey’s and Violet’s birthday, they’re pretty much 18. And there are some scenes that are more fitting adult readers. So, let’s say new adult.

M.A.Greene: When I was reading it I was curious what category it fell into. So when you write do you write with or without music?

Antuan Vance: With music. Absolutely. Something low, not distracting, and usually nothing with lyrics. Instrumentals. Classics like Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy. Soundtracks and suites from movies I enjoy.

M.A.Greene: Music can defiantly fuel the writing experience. What is your favorite book and your least favorite and why?

Antuan Vance: It’s hard to nail down a singular favorite. What makes a book my favorite is when it excites me to read more. And not just more of that specific book, but more books period. I like books that excite my interests in literature. William Shatner wrote a series of Star Trek novels. I ate those up as a kid. Dan Brown wrote Angels & Demons, The DaVinci Code. As a college student, I was sucked in. I’m a big Stephen King fan, aka constant reader. A recent favorite would be Ink Mage by Victor Gischler. We already talked about my least favorite, A Wrinkle In Time. Why? If something is my least favorite, it did the opposite of what my favorite does.Instead of exciting me about reading, picking a book, the books I like the least make reading a chore. If I’m forcing myself through and not liking the characters, enjoying the plot, or appreciating the style, I’m not likely to finish, unless I’ve committed myself to finishing it.

M.A.Greene: That makes sense. Reading books you force yourself to read, such as assigned readings when back when you were in school and dislike the story or characters can be a chore. What advice would you give parents and family members who worry about children and teen aspiring writers striving towards a profession they could perceive as being a “starving artist”?

Antuan Vance: My best advice is to “get a grip”. Writers are versatile, disciplined, and intelligent. Creatives are unique. They can’t be lumped in with the rest of the crowd, expected to have a regular career. But we can do anything, if we have to. I should also point out that you don’t have to have a degree in English or Writing to be a writer. So, choosing to study something “practical” will only influence and benefit what they write.

Also, free marketing, beta reading, and editing are life savers. So, if you’re going to worry, worry with helpful actions and ask what you can do to help.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Antuan Vance: One: If writing isn’t a top priority, and you really want to do this, you have to be willing to sacrifice time and money from something else. Less Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, TV, YouTube, Twitch, video games, mall visits, whatever. Writing is a passion and priority. Take it seriously. Reduce and ignore your distractions. Two: if you’re not writing, you’re thinking about writing. There are a lot of stories out there to tell. It’s best to always have your mind open to the next project. When you’re bored, as if that’s possible, brainstorm. When you have ten to twenty books on the horizon, pour good ideas into other writers/creatives. Three: people will lead you into a mental prison, but only you can lock yourself in. Don’t allow people to tell you what kind of writer you are, what you should write. If you want to write four, seven, eleven different genres in your career, do it, as long as it works. Also, it’s good to know what’s out there, but try not to get too caught up in what other people are doing. You are you. Unique. Special. Beautiful. Stories are bestowed upon you, to tell them as you are meant to.

M.A.Greene: That is wonderful advice for aspiring writers. Thanks for letting me interview you.

If you are wondering where you can purchase Antuan Vance’s The Catalyst, it’s on amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Catalyst-Book-One-ebook/dp/B00WET7HR4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542917789&sr=8-1&keywords=the+catalyst+antuan+vance

Book Review of Kerri Maniscalco ‘s Stalking Jack The Ripper

I heard about this book from an author Youtube video and knew I had to read it when the chance arose. Audrey is 17-year-old progressive thinker stuck 1888 London. It’s a time when women society treats women as inferiors. Thankfully she has an uncle who lets her disguise herself as a boy so she can attend his forensic science classes. At the class, she meets Thomas, a witty, handsome man who was a keen sense of observational skills. Unlike her who looks the other way when she brother, overprotective father and many of the men in society, Thomas respects and encourages her intelligence especially as far as solving the murders by Jack the Ripper. Audrey is empathetic about the women were murdered by Jack and is determined to assist help hunt him down. But when she starts to suspect the killer’s identity is someone close to her what will she do? Kerri Maniscalco masterfully weaves forensic science, historical events and memorable characters in this mystery novel.

Hello there. My name is M.A.Greene a writer reaching for publication. I am revising a YA Sci-fi/Fantasy novel and write short stories and poems. You can follow my writing journey on Twitter at https://magreene96.wordpress.com/ .

Book Review of Andrea F. Harkins’ The Martial Arts Woman: Motivational Stories of Human Triumph

Image result for pictures of women and martial arts

This book combines the various experiences women of differing backgrounds have as they share how martial arts has impacted their lives. Set in different categories, these women enlighten readers on how martial arts has empowered them. Andrea Harkins is an author, speaker, martial artist, and magazine and newspaper columnist. Some of the stories are specifically hers while others belong to other martial artists.

This book enlightens readers showing that martial arts is not simply about physical strength but digging up strength in many other parts of life. They showed, how even though there have been and continue to be sexist views to women who practice martial arts, the rewards far outweigh the adversity. Obviously, learning martial arts is about protecting oneself. However, many of these women had to unlearn the social barriers that had been instilled in them since childhood, such as learning to be more assertive. Stories of how it helped through physical illnesses and how they passed the lessons learned down to their children so they could kick down any barriers in their way inspiring.

Another fascinating piece of treasure about this book is how it explained how often women build and have various social expectations that differ from than men. It showed the ways women martial arts can especially be empowering for them, such as learning to be more assertive and hold onto their identities when they became wives and mothers.

Many of these women had their own insecurities about starting their practice in at various stages of their lives. Every woman should read this book. Any man who in their lives who are practice martial arts should read this as well. This book is not about disqualifying or belittling men who practice martial arts but highlighting how being Wonder Woman is not a requirement to learn martial arts. It takes ordinary person willing to step into learning what can help them a greater version of themselves.

Hello there. My name is M.A.Greene a writer reaching for publication. I am revising a YA Sci-fi/Fantasy novel and write short stories and poems. You can follow my writing journey on Twitter at https://magreene96.wordpress.com/ .

Blair Cousins Author Interview

ouji curious cat pic

Hello there. My name is M.A.Greene a writer reaching for publication. I am revising a YA Sci-fi/Fantasy novel and write short stories and poems. You can follow my writing journey on twitter at https://magreene96.wordpress.com/.

  • M.A.Greene: So first can you tell us when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

Blair Cousins: I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I knew there was no future in it for me. It wasn’t until I started the publishing process of my first book back in 2016 that I realized that this could be a new path for me.

  • M.A.Greene: When you say you “knew there was no future in it for me.” could you explain what you were thinking and what you mean by that?

Blair Cousins: I was thinking about how hard it is to publish a book, back then I hadn’t thought about self-publishing and I knew I would have to write something absolutely fantastic to be published. Not to mention it would have to be shown to the right people. So I didn’t think it could be done, at least for me.

  • M.A.Greene: Publishing does have a lot of work involved and connections. When did you realize this could be your “new path?”

Blair Cousins: I think things started to clear up the more I researched. I joined a lot of self-publishing groups and listened to dozens of authors who were going through the process. By reading their stories, it showed me that it was absolutely possible to become a writer and to be successful at it.

  • M.A.Greene: Thank goodness for writers sharing their journeys the struggles and all. · What was your publishing journey like for Ouji The Curious Cat from the initial idea to publication?

Blair Cousins: Yes! Shout out to author’s who share! It’s actually kind of funny how OTCC came along. It was completely by accident that the story was even written. I wrote OTCC for NaNoWriMo some years ago, however, during that time I had a different idea planned for it. About three days in I scrapped that idea and started working on OTCC. The idea came to me while I was at work, I work with cats and kind of ran with the idea of what it felt like to be a young kitten at a shelter. After I finished writing it, I thought it was good enough to take a chance on. So I looked into the publishing process, I choose self-publishing because I had control over the timeline. At the time I thought I was going to be too busy to wait for a traditional publisher. The rest of my publication journey was completely trial and error and I’m still learning new things today!

  • M.A.Greene: It’s good you did your research. What was the revision process of Ouji The Curious Cat like for you?

Blair Cousins: Very challenging! It’s hard to know what’s right when you’ve read the words dozens of times. That’s why I had betas, but more importantly I hired a developmental editor. He pointed out things in my story that I would have never thought about.

  • M.A.Greene: It was good you were so prepared and did not think you could do everything on your own. Some people mistakenly think that self published books have no one other than the writer involved.

Blair Cousins: Oh yes indeed, you have to build yourself a team. It can get pricey, but it’s totally worth it. Making friends in the industry is also extremely helpful.

  • M.A.Greene: What are your favorite genres and least favorite genres and why?

Blair Cousins: I like science fiction and fantasy, with a hint of humor, because I like to laugh. I’m not fond of romance or historical fiction though, unless it’s has a fair amount of humor in it of course.

  • M.A.Greene: Do you write with music? If so what types of music do you like?

Blair Cousins: I do! I love to write to film scores and edit to soft EDM of various genres. I use Pandora and Youtube a lot, it’s become somewhat of a routine for me.

  • M.A.Greene: Will OTTC have a sequel?

Blair Cousins: Yes it will! I am working on four other books right now and though it won’t be out anytime soon I do have lots more adventures planned.

  • M.A.Greene: One important question I realized I needed to ask is how you would describe Ouji The Curious Cat to readers?

Blair Cousins: OTCC is a fun and adventurous tale about a cat, named Ouji, who runs away from home to find his place. Along the way, he makes a lot of friends and discovers that the world is a lot bigger than his suburban home.

  • M.A.Greene: What age group would you suggest Ouji The Curious Cat for?

Blair Cousins: I would say 10 and up, but it can be read to younger children too.

  • M.A.Greene: Ouji seems to be a loyal friend who is a kind hearted soul. How did you go about developing his character and the other animals in the series.

Blair Cousins: I sort of developed him along the way. I don’t really do much with character profiles, though they seem really helpful. I just focus on what his goals are and try to get him there emotionally. Same with his friends, they start off as archetypes and as the story progresses I discovery their wants and needs as well.

  • M.A.Greene: Are you a plotter or a panser?

Blair Cousins: I would say I’m a plotter, I don’t make super detailed outlines, but I do plan a bit as I go.

  • M.A.Greene: You also have a picture book out. Is that right?

Blair Cousins: Yup, it’s a coloring book with cats. I put it together with my good friend and illustrator, Danielle Dooley

  • M.A.Greene: Can you explain how the picture book is related to OTCC and what the process of working with an illustrator was like?

Blair Cousins: The coloring book is its own series, but there is a small reference to OTCC in there. I had to add it, I couldn’t help myself. As for working with the illustrator, it was sort of a shot in the dark. I had an idea and she had the talent. I always loved her art and she agreed to join me. So it was a very informal, but fun process.

  • M.A.Greene: If there is any advice you would give aspiring writers what would it be?

Blair Cousins: Write as much as you can as often as you can. Whether it’s your own stories or fan-fiction. Have fun with it and don’t stop.

  • M.A.Greene: Thanks so much for letting me interview you. Have a great day

Blair Cousins: No problem, it was a lot of fun.

Blair Cousins is also on twitter. Her twitter name is @BlairEveryWhere and her blog is https://theofficebc.wordpress.com/. To purchase her book Ouji The Curious Cat on amazon  https://www.amazon.com/Ouji-Curious-Cat-Blair-Cousins/dp/0998462101/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542914885&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=blair+cousons+ouji+the+curious+cat

 

 

M

Author Interview with Kim Chance

Hello there. My name is M.A.Greene a writer reaching for publication. I am revising a YA Sci-fi/Fantasy novel and write short stories and poems. You can follow my writing journey on twitter at https://twitter.com/MAGreene96.

Keeper cover

  • M.A.Greene: So first can you tell us when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

Kim Chance: I’ve always loved to write, but I didn’t realize I wanted to pursue fiction writer as a career until I was in my 20s. It all started in 2008. I was recently married, and my husband was deployed. I was living in a brand new city without any friends or family nearby. I spent most of my free time reading. One day, I had an idea for a story and I just started writing it, not thinking anything would come of it. I realized very quickly, however, how much I loved creating my worlds and developing my own characters.

Over the next few years, I tried to write as much as possible, but life was pretty busy. During that time, I went to grad school and got my masters degree, and I also got pregnant and gave birth to twins. I wasn’t able to devote as much time to writing as I’d had in earlier days, but once my twins were a little older, I decided I really wanted to pursue writing with more gusto. I’ve never looked back since!

  • M.A.Greene: When did the initial idea for Keeper come to you?

Kim Chance: It was very organic, really.  I was working on a completely different storyline when a certain plot element popped into my head. It was unique and exciting, but it didn’t fit into my current WIP. I tried to brush it aside, but that little element just wouldn’t go away, so I spent a lot of time thinking about the characters and the world that would go along with it. Thus, KEEPER was born!

  • M.A.Greene: How long did it take you to write Keeper’s first draft, then to finish the book?

Kim Chance: I wrote multiple versions of Keeper, but the draft that eventually became the published book took 3 and ½ years to complete.

  • M.A.Greene: I first found out about Keeper and your writing advice from your YouTube videos. When did you decide to make a YouTube channel?

Kim Chance: I created my channel almost three years ago. My first video was published on October 15th, 2015. I wanted a place to chronicle my publishing journey, and I also wanted a forum to share everything I’ve learned with other writers.

  • M.A.Greene: What was your publishing journey like for Keeper from the initial idea to publication?

Kim Chance: I started writing the draft that would late become the published book on June 17th, 2012. I finished that draft on August 8th, 2015. It was one of the coolest moments of my journey so far. I was sitting in a public library with tears pouring down my face because I was so proud of myself for finally finishing.

After that, I did multiple rounds of revising and editing. I recruited two freelance editors to help me whip the manuscript into shape and their feedback was so helpful! They are the reason KEEPER is what it is today. After I had a draft that I was really proud of and felt good about, I began the beta reading process and started entering writing contests. Both of those things lead to even more rounds of R & E. Finally, in March of 2016, I began to query literary agents. I received an R&R from Caitlen Rubino-Bradway (LKG Agency) on May 24th, 2016 and then on September 16th, 2016 after I had sent her the (yet again!) revised manuscript, she offered me representation. BEST. DAY. EVER!!  From there, we did—yup! You guessed it!— ANOTHER round of revisions and then took the manuscript on submission. It took several months, but on February 8th, 2017 I was offered a publishing contract!

  • M.A.Greene: Lainey is a refreshing heroine. She is studious, loyal, kind and intellectual. Where you like her as a teenager? How did you develop her character?

Kim Chance: Thank you! There are definitely parts of me in Lainey, but she is her own person for sure! I was a good student, but not nearly as focused and dedicated to my studies as she is. In terms of development, I did a character profile on her and spent a lot of time getting to know her before I started writing.

  • M.A.Greene: One aspect I love is the positive friendship sisterhood bond Lainey has with her best friend Maggie. How did you decide to have Maggie as her best friend? What was the character development for her like?

Kim Chance: I knew Lainey needed a partner in crime, someone who could help her deal with everything that happens. Since Lainey is so serious, I wanted her best friend to be spunky and funny. Maggie is actually based off of my real life best friend, Carrie. Carrie has been there for through the best and worst parts of my life and I can’t imagine life without her. It wasn’t hard to develop Maggie as a character because I have a living example of such a friend in my own life.

  • M.A.Greene: Do you think the Young Adult genre needs more novels where strong female friendships preserve?

Kim Chance: Absolutely! I think it’s refreshing to see healthy female relationships. I plan to include them in all of my future novels, and I would love to see more and more strong female friendships in fiction!

  • M.A.Greene: In your novel Keeper, Lainey discovers she is a witch. Did you like books and movies about witches? Did you research myths and beliefs of witchcraft for your novel? If so what did you use and intentionally leave out and why?

Kim Chance: Yes! I’m a child of the 90s, so I grew up watching Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Charmed, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ve always had a thing for the paranormal, and witches in particular. I’m also a huge fan of Harry Potter & The Chronicles of Narnia. Those were big sources of inspiration for me as well. No, I didn’t really do a lot of research, mainly because I had a pretty good idea already of how I wanted my witches to operate.

  • M.A.Greene: (minor spoiler alert) I am so happy this book did not involve a love triangle between the friends and the guy who shows up. (I will not say who so people have to read Keeper to find out) Did you ever consider love triangles or Maggy and Lainey being jealous over guys or was that never the nature of their friendship.

Kim Chance: Well, I LOVE love triangles (don’t judge me, people!), but I never considered including one in this story. It wouldn’t have been a good fit. While there is a slightly romantic subplot, this book is NOT a paranormal romance.

  • M.A.Greene: It was wonderful the way you made many references to comic book superheroes as Lainey discovers she is a witch and what that entails, was that on purpose?

Kim Chance: Yes! Maggie is a huge comic book fan and so she always used references to compare what Lainey is going through to the heroes in her comics. I’m a big nerd myself, so this was a lot of fun!

  • M.A.Greene: Are you a comic book/ Marvel/DC/ anime fan?

Kim Chance: Yes! I love the Marvel universe!

  • M.A.Greene: Are you only interesting in writing for Young Adults or other age groups as well?

m.Kim Chance: My heart is with Young Adult, so I don’t see myself writing for any other age group any time soon. You never know though!

  • M.A.Greene: What are your favorite genres and least favorite genres and why?

Kim Chance: My favorites are fantasy, historical, and re-tellings! I don’t really have a least favorite, though I tend to steer clear of horror—I’m a big chicken!

  • M.A.Greene: What is your favorite book and least favorite book and why?

Kim Chance: My favorite book is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’ve read it a million times and I will never be sick of it. I don’t have a least favorite book.

  • M.A.Greene: Do you write with music? And if so what songs helped lightening keep shining in your story as you stormed through when writing Keeper?

Kim Chance: I do! I write to movie scores—I find lyrics distracting. You can find my Keeper playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/user/22mm3tbaxzept6feoi3nkdkkq/playlist/0Mh8UX4ZJQRgz5OC0geA34?si=2PIbqu5NTEet7_6ZKPNmyQ

You can find my playlist for Seeker, here: https://open.spotify.com/user/22mm3tbaxzept6feoi3nkdkkq/playlist/2yBkzHIRVFlbQ61ZV4zOiK?si=lQPgMuuXQya51CM395nYZw

  • M.A.Greene: Watching your YouTube videos, you mentioned you are a teacher, mother and wife. How you do balance so many obligations and how did you learn to balance your obligations with writing?

Kim Chance: It’s definitely not without effort, and I’ve certainly not completely mastered it yet. In order for me to juggle it all, I have to follow a pretty strict schedule. Not just when it comes to writing, but life in general. I have a planner that I take with me everywhere, and I literally have to schedule my life down to the hour. I set long-term and short-term goals for myself and then I do my best to schedule the amount of time necessary to achieve those goals. It doesn’t always work out that way—life is messy after all!—but I really try to hold myself accountable.

Most of my writing time is scheduled for the evenings after my children are in bed. It’s not ideal; I do my best writing during the day when my brain is fresh, but my children are my priority and when I’m with them, my mom hat is the most important one I wear. I’m also pretty tough on myself, and I try not to get bogged down with excuses as to why I can’t write. This often means I write when I’m exhausted or sick or just generally don’t feel like writing. It’s not easy, and sometimes I only get a few paragraphs written, but I firmly believe that dreams don’t work unless you do. I’m certainly not one of those writers who can write every day, but I do my best to get at least 2-3 writing sessions in a week. I also work on my lunch breaks whenever I can.

I won’t lie, juggling writer life with real life is incredibly challenging, and I don’t always feel like I’m successful at it. However, writing is important to me, so I do everything I can to make sure it remains a priority, in spite of my crazy schedule.

  • M.A.Greene: I follow you on twitter and have participated in #chance2connect, a twitter session where you ask writers/aspiring writers questions and they have a chance to connect with each other writers in environment that fosters respect and kindness. How did you come up with the concept of #chance2connect?

Kim Chance: Writing was a very lonely experience for me when I first started, and once I got plugged into the writing community, I wanted to help other writers do the same. Twitter has a pretty active writing community, so I figured it would be a great place to make some connections. I’d participated in other twitter chats before and really enjoyed them, so I thought it would be a great way to help my fellow writers make friends!

  • M.A.Greene: Often in your YouTube videos and on twitter you often say the phrase “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” I even remember when you were promoting people being able to buy shirts with the phrase on it. How did you first realize that slogan could apply to writing and when did the slogan reside with you on a personal level?

Kim Chance: I came across the quote early on in my writing career and it’s just been something that has stuck with me ever since. While I can’t take credit for it, it’s definitely become my personal mantra and something I believe very strongly in.

  • M.A.Greene:The cover of Keeper is beautiful and intriguing. Did you have any influence in the cover design and if so what was that process like?

Kim Chance: I did, which is not usually the case with traditional publishing. I’m very lucky! I did a video all about the process and my experience with it. You can see it here: https://youtu.be/h9CjyAK-cOA

  • M.A.Greene: Does it ever feel surreal being interviewed about your book and writing process? Did it in the beginning?

Kim Chance: YES! Even with a published book, there are times when I don’t feel like a real author. It’s always very exciting to be asked for an interview!

  • M.A.Greene: Keeper has a sequel you are working on Seeker, without too many spoilers what can tell us about the process for that book? Is it easier writing a sequel? What challenges are different writing Seeker compared to Keeper?

Kim Chance: Writing a sequel is incredibly difficult, and since I’m on deadline for this book, there’s even more stress and pressure to deal with. I wrote Keeper in a vacuum with no deadlines or even any expectations. The exact opposite is true of Seeker. It’s a much different experience and there have been a lot of highs and lows. I’m sure it will all be worth it in the end, but it’s pretty challenging so far. Time will tell! Also, I’m chronicling my experience with Seeker in a video series called The WIP Diaries on my channel. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTi-b65qDGLsRDvso8R3xAPZlVrWJda94

  • M.A.Greene: What advice would you give aspiring writers in regards to staying motivated, the publishing journey, or so forth?

Kim Chance: My biggest piece of advice for aspiring writers is don’t compare your writing journey with anyone else’s journey. It is so easy to look at others’ success and take it an indication that your own will never come. Writing is an emotional journey, and when we start asking the question of “Why them? Why not me?” it not only affects our writing, but it affects who we are as people. Don’t put yourself in the position. Success is not measured by how many book contracts you’re offered or how many times your name hits that NYT bestseller list. Figure out what your definition of success is and don’t let anyone or anything make you feel like you can’t achieve it. You can, and you will!

You can read Kim Chance’s Keeper on amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Keeper-Kim-Chance/dp/1635830125/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542915445&sr=1-2&keywords=keeper