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

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://twitter.com/MAGreene996.

Book Review of Kim Chance's Keeper

I discovered Kim Chance by watching her YouTube videos. So when had the chance to her debut novel Keeper, I was thrilled. The protagonist is 16 years old Lainey. Chance gives the reader a logical studious girl who desires to see more of the world than the place she and grew up living with her Uncle. Her path to self-discovery is the plan she’s for years: Do well on her SAT’s and get into a good college. That is until she starts having what seem to be delusions and discovers she is a witch. Her best friend Maggy, who loves all superhero and supernatural comics, tv shows are convinced before Lainey is of her gifts. I enjoyed seeing a close friend, sisterhood bond between Maggy and Lainey. Also, I was interested in the romance with the mysterious guy who that helps Lainey with her adventures as she learns more about what being a witch entails. Lainey has flashbacks for one of her ancestors who protected a book that the villain is after. Some of the lines were corny but didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the story. If you want a book with strong female friendship, deals with family ties, and a logical, caring protagonist, you need to keep an eye on Keeper and read it ASAP. Overall I enjoyed this book and await the release of the sequel, Seeker.

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

Diversity and Teen Writing

🌈 Lucia 📚

M.A. Greene96: 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/MAGreene996 . I will be interviewing BrucoliLucia a teen writer, about her opinions on diversity in Young Adult stories and her journey as a writer and personal journey as well. So first how old are you and at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

BrucoliLucia: Hello, happy to be here! I’m fourteen years old and I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember: even when I couldn’t write yet, I’d tell my mom stories and she’d read them back to me! But I’ve been seriously writing for about two years now.

M.A.Greene96: That is so wonderful that you are fourteen and serious about your writing journey. What have you published and what are you working on?

BrucoliLucia: I am currently working on my first novel, a YA science fiction story. I have published three guest posts on other websites (you can find a list on http://www.luciabrucoli.com ) and have anonymously written 15 articles for a news platform over the past year.

M.A.Greene96: Having written 15 articles in one year is impressive at any age. What made you decide to publish articles?

BrucoliLucia: In the very beginning, I realized I needed a platform to make my name known in the writing community. I chose YouTube at first, where I’d record videos talking about my writing journey and giving advice. I wanted a voice in the writing community, but making videos didn’t work out. I talked to my parents, and after deleting my account I turned some of the scripts into articles. That’s where it all started! In a strange way, I’m glad that YouTube wasn’t successful: writing articles for other websites makes me feel happy with myself, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

M.A.Greene96: Well I am sure those who you wrote for are very happy about your decision as well. What are your favorite genres that you read?

BrucoliLucia: Thanks! I like YA best, even though I occasionally enjoy Adult classics. My favorite genres are contemporary and science fiction: the former because I can relate more to the characters, and the latter because of the scientific implications and technologies it includes.

M.A.Greene96: That makes sense. I love YA because there are so many messages and people discovering aspects about themselves and the world around them that shape them so fundamentally. I also enjoy science fiction for the reason you explained as well. One thing that very important in Young Adult literature is diversity. Because everyone is not the same race or other category as another other people. Can you explain your thought on diversity in YA?

BrucoliLucia: I think we definitely need more diversity, especially in YA where people go through changes and realize who they really are. Writing characters various colors, genders, orientations, mental/physical issues, body types or a combination of them all… it lets people see themselves in the books they read, which is really important. As the reader, it enriches the experience and lets us see ways of lives that we might not be familiar with. So not only does it give the people who are represented a voice, but it also builds empathy, awareness and sheds light on stereotypes. Of course, it must be *proper* representation where the author has researched/drawn from their own experiences/had sensitivity readers!

Yes, it does. I have always identified as female, and as I read (good rep!) and researched about how people can identify, I thought that including my preferred pronouns was a good step. As for being bisexual, it took a while. My immediate family members are Allies and so have exposed and explained the different gender and sexuality orientations to me. I was an ally for a long time before thinking of my own orientation. Then I realized I noticed girls as much as boys and started having romantic feelings for them. Too scared to admit my feelings even to myself, I went in denial and tried to ignore it all. It was strange because I knew everyone would be okay with it, but still felt insecure. So, I started watching queer YouTubers, read amazing rep that helped me find my stance, and eventually came out to the people closest to me: only to find out they’re perfectly okay with it, and I never had to worry!

M.A.Greene96: It sounds like you were very thoughtful and took time before realizing this. What are some ways you believe YA literature can use sensitivity and accurately portray different orientations especially those who identify as being bi since that is how you identify your orientation.

BrucoliLucia: Most of all, I think that any gender and sexual orientation rep should be handled with care, since in the world of today it still a sensitive topic, and also should be *accurate*! There are still the authors that write about orientations that they have no clue about, have done no research, haven’t read other books with that orientation and haven’t asked anyone of that orientation for their own experiences. There is nothing wrong with writing characters different from us, but I do think we should do appropriate research to make sure the representation isn’t problematic. The first thing I do when looking up a new book is to see if it is accurate rep and isn’t just based off of stereotypes 🙂

M.A.Greene96: Doing research about those that are in a minority group, the author does not fall into sounds like smart advice for any genre or age range of the readers.

BrucoliLucia: Yes it is, since a person’s circumstances shape their battles, and therefore their mindset as well.

M.A.Greene96: I know you did research and self-reflection to determine you where bi did you have any LBGT friends who helped give you advice or where an influence to help you come to that conclusion?

BrucoliLucia: I had the support of an LGBTQ+ teacher who was the first person I came out to. He helped me a lot, explaining what it all meant and perfectly phrased what I was feeling. My friends were also very supportive when I told them I was questioning my sexuality: they are all Allies, and helped me a lot throughout my journey.

M.A.Greene96: That is good you had an adult and your friends were a support system for you. Do you think having LGBT representation in books helps teens with coming to conclusions about their sexuality?

BrucoliLucia: Yes, definitely! Not only it helps us understand the terms/labels used, but it also helps us feel less alone. Not many people have a ‘human’ support system to help them navigate through the journey in realizing their sexuality, and reading books with good rep. and relating to the characters helps us- or at least me- a lot. Watching movies and reading books with LGBTQ+ characters is also a way for closeted teens to privately explore their sexuality if they feel like their environment isn’t open enough to give them the answers they need.

M.A.Greene96: What advice would you give teens who are privately exploring their sexuality vs those that have come out?

BrucoliLucia: To those privately exploring their sexuality: I feel you. I know how it’s like to be in the closet: you kind of want to come out and get it over with, but you feel safer hiding who you are, even though it can feel suffocating to do so. In the perfect world, we wouldn’t even need to come out, loving whoever we want without people saying “wait… You’re not straight?” as if that was the default. If you feel comfortable enough, I’d highly urge you to come out to someone whom you know will accept you. It helps so much to know that someone is there for you, willing to defend and protect and support you. I’d also highly recommend going online to look at terms and to read novels where characters have a variety of sexual orientations. For those already out to the world, I admire you so much for embracing who you are. Keep going and speaking out, because it raises awareness and one day we may live in a world where sexuality isn’t ‘taboo’. Always remember that you are not alone and that your sexuality is simply part of you: nobody can take that away.

M.A.Greene96: Are there any authors and books you would recommend that show diversity well?

BrucoliLucia: Simon versus the Homosapiens Agenda is great gay rep, and I hope that the sequel, Leah on the Offbeat, will have successful bisexual rep. Willful Machines also has amazing gay rep. Let’s Talk About Love has as MC a Black biromantic greysexual. I am not the first or the last, but I do feel that the biromantic feelings were represented well! A good way to find good LGBTQ+ rep is on the Lesbrary and on Twitter’s @LGBTQReads !

Simon versus the Homosapiens Agenda is great gay rep, and I hope that the sequel, Leah on the Offbeat, will have successful bisexual rep. Willful Machines also has amazing gay rep. Let’s Talk About Love has as MC a Black biromantic greysexual. I am not the first or the last, but I do feel that the biromantic feelings were represented well! The Lesbrary and Twitter’s @LGBTQReads are great places to find LGBTQ+ rep!

M.A.Greene96: Do you think there are any unique challenges or advantages with teens that realize they are bi compared to other orientations?

BrucoliLucia: Yes, definitely. Society tends to put people in boxes and categories, and that’s pretty much how the world works. Either people have to ‘fit in’ or they are ‘shunned’. Don’t get me wrong: being a non-heterosexual always has it’s challenges. But something unique we have to go through is people thinking were just confused, experimenting and that we have to choose one side: straight or gay. And unfortunately many experience this from within the LGBTQ+ community as well! Some also don’t understand that our orientation is the same regardless of the gender of our partner: in other words, we don’t switch from straight to gay depending on who we’re with.

M.A.Greene96: That that sounds frustrating. Defiantly struggles to keep in mind when writers write teen in that category. Being a teenager and dating can be hard enough, I know your only 14, but in your opinion do you think it is difficult if a bisexual teen is dating someone who is straight or gay to understand they would still be bi as you said no matter if they are dating them or not?

BrucoliLucia: For the teen, they’ll have a period of adjustment for sure, but the main worry would be if their partner accepts that they are bi. I am lucky that I found someone who not only accepts my orientation, but doesn’t really care what it is and loves me either way. It can be difficult to explain this orientation since it’s not always very straightforward, depending on where you fall on the bisexuality/pansexuality spectrum. The best advice I can give is simply to talk about it. If you are passionate and truly believe in what you’re saying, then the other person may be willing to understand.

M.A.Greene96: Back when I can’t remember what year it was, gay marriage became legal, even though I am not promoting teen marriages at all, do you think that affected LGBT teens?

BrucoliLucia: Yes, definitely. I think it made us feel validated and recognized, and it was the first step in raising awareness of non-heterosexual orientations. The legalization of gay marriage likely gave the necessary push to making people in not only gay relationships, but also any non-heterosexual relationships, come out. For me, it feels nice to know that I’ll be legal no matter if I marry a woman or a man someday.

M.A.Greene96: Do you remember where you were and how you felt when you learned gay marriage was legalized?

BrucoliLucia: To be honest, I had always assumed it was legal until the moment I heard that it was fully legalized in the US! I don’t live there, but the fact that one of the greatest international powers had legalized same-sex marriage made me really, really happy. I didn’t know I was bisexual at the time, but my parents and I, being strong Allies, celebrated it. I hope that more countries will legalize same-sex marriage and prevent LGBTQ+ discrimination around the world 🙂

M.A.Greene96: So as far as any other minority groups such as race or disability are there any recommendations you could give?

BrucoliLucia: A Raisin in the Sun (a play), Sugar, Everything Everything, The Sun is also a Star and Mission Mumbai for non-white race reps, all of them touching on culture as well. Unfortunately I don’t have many disability recs: there’s Bionic where the MC loses parts of her body because of a car crash, and The Fault in Our Stars where the MC is terminal with cancer, both great.

M.A.Greene96: Those sound like interesting books. Speaking of books, can you tell us, spoiler free, a bit about your novel your working on?

BrucoliLucia: Sure! It is a YA science fiction story, with POC, anxiety and LGBTQ+ rep. I am currently revising it… Here’s the blurb! A decade after World War Three, drones start to attack humans again, especially in Hermingheart, England. Anne’s friend Roy is taken. Anne wants to find Roy. Roy wants to escape. Iris wants to save her people. They’ll each have to give up something: or they’ll all be destroyed.

M.A.Greene96: Thanks for providing that blurb for us. Have you finished writing your manuscript’s first draft are you revising it? What stage are you at?

BrucoliLucia: I have finished drafting, yes, and now I’m going through 10 revision stages I set for myself. I worked on ‘big picture’ revisions for the first two rounds focusing on plot, characters, settings etc before working my way into details such as subplots. I am now on R8, working on small edits. Being the hyper-organized schedule fanatic that I am, I further divided it in different sub-stages. I am now at the last sub-stage, where I go through the manuscript and focus on tiny edits looking at things such as grammar, word choice and sentence structure etc. I’m really excited: I’ll give it to my Mom to edit it after this, and then it’ll be time to recruit beta readers!

M.A.Greene96: Wow that is a very dedicated revising process. How did you come up with it?

BrucoliLucia: I watched many YouTube videos beforehand, and decided I could try and break “revise this novel” into smaller, manageable parts. It started off as a five-round plan where I had deleting placeholders, revising characters, setting, subplots and then line edits. I changed it over and over again as I discovered deeply-rooted plot holes, deleted and added characters, and after almost a year of revising it became a ten-round plan. It helps me a lot to do this, because the satisfaction of giving myself a ‘check’ was motivation to keep going to experience that feeling again.

M.A.Greene96: You definatly take your craft seriously. How do you manage to juggle the demands of school work/ a social life/ and your writing?

BrucoliLucia: It is really hard: school takes up most of my time since I’m there all day, and then I have extra-curricular activities and/or homework. Even though I love writing, I put school first because there isn’t a deadline for my book, whereas there is for school. As for social life? I don’t have much if it! Of course I like going out in weekends sometimes, but I am introverted and gain my energy by staying at home rather than in social situations. I can pretty much only write in my free time, which unfortunately isn’t a lot, but I make do. I try my best not to procrastinate too much and stay organized by making lists: I’ve got one for deadlines, one for goals, daily lists of things I want to finish when I get home from school, and put reminders on my calendar to keep track of it all. In times where life is hectic such as this month, I even make another separate schedule that is the first thing I see when I walk into my room to make sure I don’t procrastinate. Granted it’s a lot sometimes, but the joy I have from finishing a task, writing a chapter or spending some time with a friend is worth it.

M.A.Greene96: You are a very organized young lady. I am sure that will help you when you go to college and work as well. What advice would you give aspiring teen writers?

BrucoliLucia: Thanks you! The main advice I’d give teen writers would be to find your people. We experience a lot of criticism and incredulity at our projects, with people saying we’re too young or aren’t capable of achieving our dreams, solely because of our age. Don’t listen to them. Instead, find the people who will support you both when you’re on a roll and living your dream, and when you just want to give up and chuck your laptop out your window. Twitter has helped me so, so much: I’ve learnt a lot about writing and that we all go through the same things. It’s okay not be okay. I wrote a full post on writing advice for teen writers for YA writer Kim Chance.

M.A.Greene96: Thank you so much for this insightful interview. I will always have a special place in my heart for teen writers. I had many writing attempts as a teenager and wrote about characters from my manuscript I am revising now, Overshadowed by The Majestic Color, a YA sci-fi/ fantasy story. I dove into learning from writer’s digest magazines and articles online. One piece of advice I would like to pass onto teen writer’s whether you have published or not. Is to always believe in your stories and stick to the ones that majestically haunt you. Those ones that won’t go away, that’s where your passion will be. And as Kim Chance, the author of the young adult fantasy Keeper often says “Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do.”

BrucoliLucia: That is beautiful!

Book review of Brie Farmer’s Warrior Protect

Fantasy wallpapers high resolution 1Brie Farmer’s novel, Warrior Protect was a story I was anticipating to read once I discovered the premise. I was honored to read an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of this book. A royal princess, Aurora, marry gets into an arranged marriage is nothing new. However, when the young woman agrees to do so and the agreement is she will protect him because she has been trained as a warrior since childhood, that is new. I was intrigued by how the gender dynamics were switched and she was marrying for wealth only. Her fiance Cade, always seems to dart glowering looks at her so she automatically is not taking a liking to him. When she gets letters from a mysterious person what will she discover? How can this arranged marriage blossom into love? Will Aurora and Cade able to protect each other from what comes? The characters are three dimensional. Brie Farmer does a great job of showing the characters strengths, weakness and everything in between. The details are precise without verbose and this story is unique. Anyone who enjoys High Fantasy, romance and unique take on what it means to love and protect should get this book once it is on the shelves.

My name is M.A.Greene, a writer reaching for publication. My twitter link https://twitter.com/MAGreene96.

 

Author Interview with Megan Tennant

Hello, there. This is M.A.Greene, an writer reaching to be YA fiction author. This is an interview with Megan Tennant, the author of the dystopian novel Aletheia. Readers are engulfed in the world 736, a girl lives in. It’s a post-apocalyptic world where a disease wipes people’s memories and a Prophet holds the cure to preventing further memory loss. That is for a price.

  • M.A.Greene: Would you prefer I call you Ms. Tennant or Megan?

Megan Tennant: Megan is perfectly fine, thank you.

  • M.A.Greene: Ok Megan. When I saw your book trailer on youtube, I was fascinated by the premise for Aletheia. Can you share how you initially came up with this story?

Megan Tennant: As is the case with many authors, the initial idea for Aletheia came to me in a dream. Granted, there were external influences. I was in college at the time, in the middle of a stressful semester. I was taking a graduate level Neuroscience course, as well as some advanced biology and computer science courses. I was also reading the Maze Runner series and watching the walking dead. This all combined to lead to a marathon dream which involved the initial spread of Lethe, the way the disease worked, and even a degree of science behind it. The characters and full plot didn’t come around until 6 months later when I decided the idea needed to be written.

  • M.A.Greene: I’m sure your science background helped with writing Aletheia. Did you do any specific research when you realized your story needed to be written?

Megan Tennant: Oh, I did wayyyyy too much research. I mean, it helped the story, so it’s worth it. But It wasn’t helpful for my grades at the time, with the exception of my neuroscience course. I poured over so many articles and research papers. And some of them were actual research papers, pages and pages of scientific jargon. But I wanted to make sure the disease I was envisioning was possible. My research involved everything from delving deep into interrupted reconsolidation of memories, to feral children raised without social constructs, to the variation between storage and retrieval of different memory types, to taxoplasma gondii.

At some point, there will be a prequel which will be from the Prophet’s POV, and there I will be able to delve deeper into the science behind the disease and how it came to be.

  • M.A.Greene: Wow. You really made sure the world you were giving your readers was possible. Can you explain to us what taxoplasma gondii. in a non scientific way lol! In layman’s term.

Megan Tennant: Haha, I’ll give it a try! Taxoplasma gondii is a microscopic parasite (similar to malaria). Lethe is a disease, but it’s actually caused by a micro parasite modeled after Taxoplasma gondii (I’ll abreviate to TG). TG is very commonplace in the world, living out its lifecycle through cats and rats. It’s suspected that at least 1/3 of the world has it. The thing is, there are no noticeable symptoms in humans in most cases, and thus, there’s no reason to treat it and very little reason to research it. What makes TG so interesting is the way it affects the brains of mice. Mice infected with TG do not fear the smell of cat urine (and are sometimes even drawn to it) despite memory, instinct, and years of evolution. TG is able to live within the brain of the mice and affect their behavior in isolated ways. This suggests that a similar microparasite could potentially evolve (or be altered) such that it could interrupt memory formation and processing.

  • M.A.Greene: Very interesting. I’m glad we can see learn more about the origins of the disease Lethe, when your prequel comes out. As far as character development for Aletheia, what was included in your creative process? Did you use character profiles? Was 736 apart of the dream that launched story that needs to be put to pen, (or put to computer since we are in the 21st century.) Also before the dream, did you do any creative writing previously? Had you attempted or written any manuscripts (unpublished novels) or short stories? Did you ever know beforehand that you wanted to be an author?

Megan Tennant: My character development started out pretty slopy but became more and more refined. I’ll be making use of character profiles in the future, but when I started it was all in my head and scribbled in notebooks. 736 wasn’t part of the original dream, but came in a soon as I started thinking of plot for the story.

As far as creative writing goes, I always sort of wanted to be an author, but I’d never viewed it as a valid career. That mostly has to do with the fact that my mom wrote a few children’s books and my dad a few scifi novels when I was young, and both received enless rejections because the stories just weren’t what the publishers were looking for. Of course, this was before self-publishing was an option. Before Ingram Spark, and KDP. But before I thought about careers and livelihood, when I was 5-9, I did have a creative writing period. I wrote a few short books that mostly featured cats as the main characters. Then I shifted to daydreaming and reading as a hobby, not taking up writing again until Aletheia.

  • M.A.Greene: Everyone has a different process. Having written short books before you were even 10 is an accomplishment in itself. How long did it take you to write the 1st draft of Aletheia? Then how many revisions did you write for it finished and what was your revision process like?

Megan Tennant: The first draft of Aletheia took about a year, although around 4 months of that was completely scrapped since I was a plotter trying to pants my way through the story. I mostly edited as I went, reading a few chapters back before I started writing everytime I sat down at the computer, so my first draft was more rounded than the average first draft. After the first draft my alpha reader (aka Co-founder of Cloud Kitten Publishing) got to read it. It took around 3 months to get through revising after his feedback. From there I started the beta reader process. I did two rounds of betas, each one taking about 2 months. There was some slight overlap between my alpha’s read through, and each beta round, given that Aletheia is a fairly long book, clocking in at around 200k words.

  • M.A.Greene: Can you tell us what your publishing journey was like for Aletheia?

Megan Tennant: The publishing journey was by far the most difficult stage. It involved a brain-numbing amount of research from start to finish. The first hurdle was deciding whether to query, self publish, or take an indie publisher route. My partner and I decided that we wanted to help other authors, and so we tool the indie publisher route and created our own LLC which includes Cloud Kitten Publishing. Creating an LLC was a lot of work and is not for the faint of heart. From that point, we commisioned a logo, chose company colors and designs, created webpages, made a social media platform plan, learned the ins-and-outs of Ingram Spark, delved into endless research about the publishing industry from indie to traditional, and a whole other long list of little things that had to be done. When it came to Aletheia specifically, the three largest challenges about the post-beta phase were editing, cover design, and formatting. We also took a swing at paid advertising but quickly found it to be ineffective and extremely costly, so we abandoned that endeavour.

  • M.A.Greene: That is a lot of work. I’m sure creating an LLC is something that can put on a resume. The world of Aletheia is different from ours in many ways. This including how many of people and society are more accepting of various gender norms in terms of fluidity and attraction. What made you decide to make this apart of your dystopian novel?

Megan Tennant: Putting aside the fact that I will always write diverse casts, because diversity is the norm, I wanted the world in my dystopian novel to be realistic and uncensored. I set the scene at the start of the disease and let it play out and influence the worldbuilding realistically taking into account the current views of sexuality and gender in the US. The geographic location of all the places we will visit throughout the series is the west coast, which is already full of people who don’t see gender and sexuality as divisions the way some other portions of the US do. Given that the disease almost instantly shut down all international and national air travel to reduce the spread, most of the people caught in the west would have been people who had lived here for a while and thus, grew up more open minded. I also factored in that this happens in the future, and from the onset of the disease we jump another 18 years before the events of Aletheia. This means that the leaders present in Aletheia were growing up on the west coast in a setting that takes place years after our current time. So, the vast majority of the leaders of rebel packs, small pockets of society, and any other group would be people who see the world in an open minded way. Ofcourse, the Prophet and the city of Iris operate differently, and all non-reproductive forms of sex are prohibited. But this stems from the fact that the leader of Iris is focused on restoring the human race, which requires the restoration of population. So this has nothing to do with the Prophet’s opinion in gender norms and is instead a decision he made based on his own logic with the intention of helping the City of Iris reach the population size he envisions. Furthermore we have to consider the way that the apocalypse and complete breakdown of society would alter our perception of norms. When people watch 3/4ths of the population die, lose most of the people close to them, and find themselves in a world full of desperate people, murder, and assault, they tend to view other people differently. At this point, regardless of prior harmful perceptions of norms, the vast majority don’t give a damn if someone is gay, or bisexual, or demi, or trans. What matters is whether the person is trustworthy and good in a world full of so many bad things. Sexuality and gender don’t factor into whether or not someone is a good person, and thus, in the apocalypse, intelligent people don’t care. Although I would like to note that it’s my opinion that current day people shouldn’t care about gender or sexuality either.

  • M.A.Greene: You definitely put much thought behind your dystopian world of Aletheia. It’s great to read books that celebrate diversity in various ways. This book does not shy away from dealing with harsh realities. In fact one aspect I was surprised and impressed by was the trigger warning at the beginning of the book. Can you explain to us why you felt the need to do so?

Megan Tennant: I know there are some mixed feelings about trigger warnings, but honestly, I think they’re very important. Not all books need them, but Aletheia’s often brutal realities definitely fall into the category of books that can benefit from them. The reason I chose to include trigger warnings mostly has to do with post traumatic stress disorder. For those suffering from PTSD something as simple as a page of description can trigger flashbacks that can lead to hours, days, or even weeks of negative symptoms such as nightmares, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and more. Although not all those suffering from PTSD find scenes relating to their trauma triggering, there are some that do and if my trigger warning page can help even one individual, it’s worth it.

  • M.A.Greene: How did you come up with 736 being the main character’s name? And why did you decide to have the book in first person POV?

Megan Tennant: That’s actually a little bit of an easter egg. 736 is the area code of the city I grew up in. As for the first person POV, I actually tried writing the book in third person, but it turns out, I’m terrible at writing in third person. I need to see the world through a character’s eyes and that includes the way their personality alters their view of the world. Jumping between different people complicates that. Also, whenever I’m living a story (whether it be mine or another book I’m reading) I’m always in the POV character’s shoes. So it just made sense to write from that same standpoint.

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

Megan Tennant: My favorite genres are anything scifi, post-apocalyptic/apocalyptic, and fantasy. My least favorite genres are pretty much anything else, but especially contemporary. If I’m going to live in a character’s head for a whole book, I want to experience a world I can’t just walk outside to see.

  • M.A.Greene: So Megan what are your favorite book and your least favorite book and why?

Megan Tennant: Hmm, my favorite books right now are a pretty solid tie between Our Dark Duet be Victoria Schwab, and The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci (of which I was lucky enough to read an early ARC). As for least favorite, I hate giving books bad reviews and almost never read books I expect to dislike, but I did DNF The Waking Land this year because I was incredibly bored with it and felt there was no consistency or direction to anything.

  • M.A.Greene: Even though I haven’t published my YA sci-fi/fantasy novel yet, writing a book changed the way I read fiction. Did you have that same experience of reading more fiction more analytically than beforehand?

Megan Tennant: I definitely feel I read more analytically now and I also notice faults I didn’t before. But the newly revealed faults are also balanced out by a new appreciation for how much work goes into a book.

  • M.A.Greene: I feel the same. It’s so much effort for what can be an enjoyable read for the audience. If you could give your past self any advice related to writing what would it be?

Megan Tennant: Plot. Always plot. Outlines are magical maps and without them you’ll get super lost.

  • M.A.Greene: Is there anything you would like to share with readers or potential readers of Aletheia?

Megan Tennant: That I hope they enjoy the world of the Seventh River series and I’m always available on Twitter to answer questions.

  • M.A.Greene: Thank you Megan for this enriching interview. Speaking of twitter you can follow @Megan_Tennant and watch her youtube videos as well. Also follow me on twitter https://magreene96.wordpress.com/ for updates about my writing journey, updates on book reviews I will be doing and when more interviews will be posted!

Megan Tennant: You’re very welcome. Thank you for interviewing me!

You can purchase Megan Tennant’s Aletheia on amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Aletheia-Seventh-River-Megan-Tennant/dp/1640670009/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542915537&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=megan+tennant+aletha

Interview with Fiction Author Brie Farmer

  • M.A.Greene: My name is M.A.Greene. This interview is with Brie Farmer, the author of Stars Like Fate. So first can you tell us when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

Brie Farmer: I have always been iffy about answering this question. I did not write when I was younger. I had written five thousand words once for a class. It was ultimately only given an “It’s okay.” After that I had I only ever played around with Literary Role-playing and living within my own ideas. It was not until the 2016 Nanowrimo that I decided to try and write something. It was a huge bust but I made two great friends and decided to keep trying. This was when I started Stars Like Fate and between my writing, writing friends, and the writing warrior discord. I found a true love and passion for writing. So, I would say between Nov. 2016 and February 2017 was when I realized I wanted to write, no matter how hard it became.

  • M.A.Greene: That’s wonderful you decided to power through and finish writing a novel and publish it after only becoming serious about writing less than 2 yrs ago. Did you self publish or go the traditional publishing route?

Brie Farmer: Yes, powering threw is what I did. Because I love writing so much it was relatively easy for me to get what I wanted to do done. I decided to Self-publish for a few reasons. I just didn’t have it in me to query. I really disliked giving someone the rights to my book babies. Also to me, writing is very personal and something I do for enjoyment more than anything else. I was not looking to try and get repped and published through one of the big publishers. I just wanted to share my stories. So, I decided to start my own company and self-publish. It was something I decided very early on. Though, I did try pitch wars once.

  • M.A.Greene: You started your own publishing company? Wow another impressive accomplishment. Does your publishing company have a name and how did you go about developing that?

Brie Farmer: Wow, thinking back on it naming my company was hard. Though, you don’t need to start your own company for some PODs. There are some out there that you do. It’s also better if you plan to publish more then one book. So, I decided on going the extra step and do it. It’s more learning about what you need to do in your state. It was easier than I thought it would be. The hardest part was picking a name. I had so many ideas floating around in my mind. Like Clever Little Fox Publishing, Smart Owl Publishing, and a few others I don’t even remember. I was so conflicted because I didn’t like any of them. I had to pick one though. So, the day I was going in to start my business I thought of a new name that ultimately became my companies name. Obsidian Court Publishing is the name I decided on. Why? Well, it was cool. “Obsidian” was because I wanted some color and Obsidian is a black colored stone. This references my first ever W.I.P which is a dark fantasy. “Court” was simply used since I write I lot of high fantasy dealing with kingdoms and their court systems. I thought it was fitting to reference my first W.I.P which is on hold for now. Since it was the story that started it all.

  • M.A.Greene: That’s really interesting. Speaking of high fantasy, your debut novel Stars Like Fate is a High Fantasy novel. What aspects of high fantasy do you enjoy the most?

Brie Farmer: All of it? I love creating worlds as well as exploring new ones. Developing and learning about new magic systems and culture. Just creating or reading about characters that live in a world completely different then our own is amazing. High Fantasy is so free and unbound in my eyes.

  • M.A.Greene: Well you should always write the type of book you want to read. Where did the initial idea for Stars Like Fate come from?

Brie Farmer: Well, I was reading another series while taking a break between my the fail of my first nano and getting back to writing. I was just thinking that the character was locked up for some time, in the said story. Before I knew it, I wanted to write a story that started off with a woman locked up in a cell. So, in my head, I had this image of a blue-haired women standing behind this grand glowing gate. This was ultimately Saphryis, but that was all I had. A woman locked away for some unknown reason. Nyole was the first character to develop fully. A King playing peacekeeper between the kingdoms, but why? Before I knew it all these characters started to appear and connect together. Now the characters changed drastically from how I originally thought of them. The original character traits for a few of them just would not work in the story as a whole. Also, the original idea behind Saphryis’s cell was much barer than the nice room she got in the final draft.

  • M.A.Greene: It’s so interesting how stories come to us. Can you give us a brief description what Stars Like Fate is about?

Brie Farmer: Stars Like fate is about a king who is shown an ancient princess that he thought was a legend. He is tasked to find the key that will unlock her powers within her mind. He must learn to trust a woman who is seen as a monster and deal with the comfort he finds within the princess. All to assure safety for his kingdom and people.

  • M.A.Greene: Even if I hadn’t read the novel, that summary would make me interested in reading it. I know you told us how the idea came to you, but for writing it down what was your process? Did you write an outline first? Do you consider yourself more of a plotter or a panser?

Brie Farmer: Now I do not normally like to talk about my process because my process is not one I would recommend to others. Now that I have said that let’s talk about how my crazy mind works. So, I would say I am a plantser that leans more to a pantser. I do write down my original major scene or plot ideas down on a paper in a list. But, after my initial jotting down I might look at it once or twice during the whole first draft. Outlines are really not my thing. But, I do write down technical terms I need to remember such as capital names and kingdoms. I have a cork board with the Nyole’s family tree. If you ask any of my writing buddies I keep everything figured out and locked in my head. Many of them say I am a robot storing all the information and all they have to do is ask and I can pull it out at any time. So yes and no I outline. I outline really just while I am planning in my head. Writing down said ideas tend to keep more ideas forming. But after I start writing I hardly touch the outline which is more of a list. This process causes me to have to always rewrite my first draft. Nothing major but it has just become a part of my process. So normally I write the first draft in 1 or 1 1/2 months. and then rewrite it in another month. I normally average about six or seven different drafts throughout my writing process. Given, I only have two and a half W.I.P.s written and in different stages right now. So, this can and probably will change later.

  • M.A.Greene: Everyone is different. A first draft in less than 2 months is quite impressive. We can already tell your favorite genre is most likely High fantasy. What is your least favorite genre and why? Also what is your favorite book and least favorite book and why?

Brie Farmer: I dislike Contemporary and Y.A. Urban Fantasy. They just are not my thing given there are one or two Y.A. Urban Fantasies that I do like. Now I do not mind N.A. Urban Fantasy and Adult Urban Fantasy. My favorite books are anything by Sarah J. Mass. Throne of Glass and A Court Of Thorns and Roses steal my number one spots every time. I also like The Grisha Saga, Yona of the Dawn (Graphic Novel), and the Falling Kingdom Series. As for books, I don’t like. I don’t normally have books I just dislike. My list of dropped books is tiny. That being said I have two that I dropped rather fast. You by Caroline Kepnes and The Girl in 6E by Alessandra Torre. These are just not in my ally. It was not that they were bad books the writing was great. I am not, big on thrillers like these.

  • M.A.Greene: Your book Stars Like Fate and your book you are working on Warrior Protect both have romantic themes intertwined in the plots. What is it about the themes of romance that you find interesting to write about?

Brie Farmer: So, I have always been the type of reader to get butterflies when reading a sweet or loving scene. Stars Like Fate, and continuing books in the series, have a very slow burn romance. I love slow burns because you get more of that before the ship sets sail feelings. Warrior Protect which is a romance, having romance as the main plot point, gives you the faster paced passionate filled feelings. I love romance because I am a huge fangirl to book couples. I am a known shipper as well. It is just something I have to have in all of my books reading or writing. Even if its just a small bit. Even if its just some side characters. I need to see a bit.

  • M.A.Greene: What advice would you give aspiring writers and what do you want readers to take away after reading your books?

Brie Farmer: My advice would be to write what you love and enjoy. Find people or communities that support your writing. Nothing is more important than finding that one person who supports you. As for what people take away from my books. I just hope that people find a world they love to get lost in and character they fangirl over.

  • M.A.Greene: Thank you so much for this interview!

Brie Farmer: No problem it was my first one so I hope it was okay.

You can purchase Brie Farmer’s Stars Like Fate on amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Stars-Like-Fate-Brie-Farmer-ebook/dp/B078SS6YRH/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542915125&sr=1-1&keywords=%5Cstars+like+fate