Writer Wednesday: My December Reading List @Bellatrix_Press @KendryBird #TheUnloveSpell #WriterWednesday #WW #WinterReads #WinterReadingList

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Author April L Wood

“Reading is essential for writers – it instructs, inspires and offers a blissful escape from the blank page.” — The Guardian

Writers should read for the same reasons chefs should eat the food they make — that is if they want to learn how to cook. Most respected authors would agree that reading is fundamental to perfecting the craft of writing. The problem arises when one is doing more writing than reading, or vice versa. I often fall into this pattern. I’m either writing all the time, or reading all the time.

So, why is it important to read if you are an author? For starters, reading improves your vocabulary. It’s also a great stress reducer. Stories can offer you inspiration– in the same way musicians inspire each other. This is how genres are created. Novels give writers a sense of how it’s done.

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My December Reading list is chock…

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Interview With Kendra L. Saunders, Writer, Fashionista, And All-Around Awesome Person @kendrybird @bellatrix_press #WriterWednesday #interview #fashion #author #amwriting

Happy Wednesday, readers!

It’s no secret that I get by with a little help (okay, a lot) from my friends, and one of my besties is Kendra L. Saunders. She writes, she’s a fashion blogger, and she makes a mean latte. In fact, she’s so awesome that I made her a character in my contemporary romance, Changing Scenes. Read on, and find out why her fans adore her so.

JAP: Let’s start with fashion! You’re a fashion blogger, have attended NY Fashion Week, and you’ve got a unique and very photogenic personal style. Have you always been interested in fashion?

KS: I’ve been into accessories for as long as I can remember! As a kid, I was already trying to make weird and exciting jewelry, usually by taking things apart that I shouldn’t have been touching! As I got older, my love for fashion expanded to clothes, and at 17 years old, I got my first subscription to InStyle magazine. There was truly no going back then. I’d also like to credit much of my love of fashion to my best childhood friend, Sarah, who was in love with the luxe life from a very young age. She taught me so much about fashion, makeup, and everything, really.

JAP: In Changing Scenes, you’re an up and coming designer who’s not afraid to take risks. Tell us about a risky move you made that paid off.

KS: One of the riskiest moves I’ve made actually relates to fashion! Years ago, I reached out to a fashion designer and asked him if I could interview him. I had almost no credits to my name in the world of interviewing, at the time, and was running entirely on confidence. It worked! He said yes, and I began interviewing people from all aspects of the fashion world. That led to attending New York Fashion Week, and I hope will eventually lead to Paris and London Fashion Week as well!
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The infamous photograph

JAP: Rumor has it that Viktor Arson, the male lead in The Unlove Spell, is loosely based on a fashion designer. Any truth to that?

KS: He is! Dmitry Sholokhov is a fashion designer from Belarus who has appeared on and won two seasons of Project Runway. He’s also probably a magical being. In late 2012, I wrote The Unlove Spell, and a lot of Viktor’s character sprang from a certain photograph of Dmitry and his Project Runway model! I still love how evocative that picture is. He has one of the oldest printed copies of The Unlove Spell that exists, many edits ago. I can’t wait to get him the edited, shiny, pretty copy!

61jk-nrgnjl-_sy346_JAP: Engaged to an Alien Pop Star, the sequel to your wildly successful Dating an Alien Pop Star, releases soon. Tell us about it!

KS: I’m so excited about it! Engaged to an Alien Pop Star is sexier, funnier, and even more wacky than Dating. Griffin makes an album for his fans, a romantic proposal takes place, and the gang has to face off with some giant alien bugs. What’s not to love? I can’t wait to hear what fans of the first book think of this one!

JAP: Finally, do you have any advice for those looking to get more involved in fashion or writing?

KS: For style bloggers, your presence in the world of style is your business card, as it were. Make sure you’re dressed how you want others to perceive you, whether it means wearing vintage, lots of accessories, minimalist pieces, designer pieces, or cheap clothes that you’ve spun into your own new piece. People will come to expect certain things from you, and come back to see what other styles you’ve created from your signature palette of ideas, colors, or vibes. All of those things make up your “brand”, and you want your brand to be as consistent as possible.
For instance, I’m over the top in fashion, but also very feminine, and love outrageous accessories and makeup. My personal “brand” is one of luxurious eccentricity… but that doesn’t usually reflect how much I actually spend on my wardrobe! It’s almost always possible to find pieces that fit your vibe but are a fraction of the price of designer, without giving yourself away. I’ve made it a goal to share amazing style for fashionistas on a budget, which is also inclusive of average and plus sized gals (and guys!)
I admit, I don’t actually take many full body pictures of my outfits, because my accessories and makeup are usually the focus of my fashion-y posts, but having a good quality camera is, of course, very important. Document as much of what you wear as you can, and share it liberally. Make sure to credit the creators of your accessories and the brands of makeup you’re wearing. Brands love getting shout-outs on social media and blogs, and will often share your posts with their followers if they like them.
As for writing about fashion, I suggest you read as much as you can about fashion, go to fashionable events, keep an eye on sartorial trends happening in your local area, and start your own trends that you can tell others about. If you’re hoping to interview people in fashion, do what I did! Be brave and confident, and ask if you can interview someone! You never know who will say yes! Just make sure you have some questions ready to go in case you get a yes. You don’t want to be unprepared, and look unprofessional.
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Like I said, Kendra’s awesome! Have any questions for her about writing, blogging, or meeting sexy rockstars? Leave ’em in the comments!

kendrybirdAbout the Author

Kendra L. Saunders is a time-and-space traveling fashionista author who writes books about magical, dark-haired men, interviews famous people,and suggests way too many bands to you via whatever social media platform she can get her hands on. She writes with good humor because humor is the best weapon for a girl who can’t learn karate (or ballroom dancing). She’s the author of the Alien Pop Star series, magic realism novel Inanimate Objects, the dark comedy Death and Mr. Right, and the poetry collection Geminis and Past Lives. Connect with Kendra online at www.kendralsaunders.com/

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And read about her fashion designer alter-ego in Changing Scenes: http://amzn.to/2giKSPC

Writer Wednesday, Thankful Edition #WriterWednesday #thankful #thanksgivingeve #author #amwriting

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Since it’s Thanksgiving Eve, I thought this would be a great time to list a few of the things I’m thankful for with regard to my writing life – some of the items listed make my job as an author easier, some offer inspiration, and some give me purpose. Without further ado, let’s get started!

  1. The Internet – seriously, how can I not appreciate a tool that lets me listen to native Gaelic speakers, get a 360 degree view of Angkor Watt, and research archaic terms for metallic elements all in one night?  Strong research makes a strong story, and I’m lucky I can do this from the comfort of my laptop instead of a library or dusty records room. Not that libraries aren’t awesome, but most aren’t open at 3 am.
  2. Social Media – okay, that’s kind of included with internet, but hear me out. Social media has exploded in recent years, allowing me to interact with my readers in real time, all over the world. That’s awesome.
  3. My Writer Friends – I have met SO MANY awesome writers, and many have become my beta readers, critique partners, and friends. Speaking of writer friends…
  4. Bellatrix Press – I once despaired that I’d never find a publisher that had the same vision for my work that I do. Happily, I was wrong! My next title with Bellatrix – Rise of the Deva’shi (Parthalan #3) – will release in February 2017, and there will be more to come. I can’t wait.

What are you thankful for this season? Share in the comments!

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Writer Wednesday: NaNo Check In, And Release Dates for Changing Fate and Gallowglass! #WriterWednesday #NaNoWriMo #goals #amwriting

It’s Day 16 of NaNo! If you’re writing your 1667 words per day (the minimum daily word count to stay on track to reach 50k by November 30), by now you have written 26,672 words.

My current word count is 16,998. I’m not exactly killing it this time around.

That low word count begs the question, what’s going on? I win NaNo EVERY year. Usually, I hit the 50k mark around the three week mark, and gloat like a gloatasaurus rex all over the internet. To call this situation is perplexing is an understatement.

As for what’s impeding my progress, a few things happened. I had to reevaluate the publishing timeline for my Parthalan series, and complete a massive re-edit ASAP. That took up the first week of November, which put me behind in my word count but moved my series forward. All in all, that was a good trade.

Having put out that fire, I got into my WIP…and right around the 6k mark, the plot went off the rails. It didn’t deviate all that far, and it’s definitely fixable. This story is one that I’ve wanted to write for years, and I will definitely see it completed. Could I fix it and still hit my 50k goal? Probably. But, then something happened.

Something kind of awesome.

Out of the blue, I was hit with the most fricken’ amazing idea ever. It’s a YA, and I never write YA, so that in itself is exciting. It takes place in Ireland, and there are mermaids and lost cities and surfing. I haven’t had this much fun writing in years, and even though I’m 10k behind, I don’t care. I am going to finish this story, and then I’m going to edit and revise it to perfection. Who cares if it doesn’t hit 50k by November 30? No one, that’s who.

My confidence is bolstered by the fact that my previous NaNo projects have fared well. My 2014 NaNo, Changing Teams, released last November, and the third in the series, Changing Fate, will release on March 28, 2017. And my 2013 project, Gallowglass, will release on June 6, 2017.

You read that right–GALLOWGLASS HAS A RELEASE DATE!!!

To sum up, keep working on your WIP, no matter where you are in your word count. To steal NaNo’s motto, the word needs your novel.

Have you encountered some NaNo setbacks? How did you work around them? Tell us in the comments!

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Get Changing Teams here: http://amzn.to/2f5PDcZ

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And the sequel, Changing Scenes: http://amzn.to/2giKSPC

Writer Wednesday: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up #writerwednesday #NaNoWriMo #amwriting #truestory

The 2016 Presidential election. Well, that happened.

I’m not going to tell you who I voted for, or ask anyone to divulge their candidate of choice. If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that my readers are both intelligent and well-educated, and I’m confident that all of you voted according to your conscience. The fact that we can do that is one of the basic reasons the USA is such a wonderful place to live.

What I am going to do is tell you about my experiences while voting. What does this have to do with NaNoWriMo, you ask? Well, nothing, and everything. Hang on, you’ll see.

Due to a series of not very random events, I didn’t get to my polling location until after 5 pm. The first thing I noticed was the line; no one, and I mean no one, votes where I live, which is nice when I want to get in and out fast. But there was a line yesterday, and I thought yay, voter turnout!

I got my ballots, did my thing, and then I checked out and queued up to deposit my ballot in that little R2D2 contraption before heading home. Then the unthinkable happened.

The contraption jammed.

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Three guesses who’s my favorite droid.

The R2D2 wannabe hissed and spit, and refused to take another ballot. The vast majority of us sighed, pulled out our phones, and politely ignored each other while those working at the polling station figured out what to do–but in every group there’s one.

“Voter suppression,” shrieked a woman near the front of the line. “You’re refusing to count my vote!”

“Ah, ma’am,” said the obviously-not-getting- paid-enough-for-this-nonsense man. “The machine is just jammed. It’ll be fixed in a minute.”

“Is it the paper?” she demanded. “Are these ballots printed on faulty paper? And why are you so calm? This is serious!”

“Yes, ma’am, it is serious,” he replied. “The machine’s been jamming all day, so we’re kinda used to it.”

“ALL DAY,” she repeated, in all caps (and possibly italics). “WHY HAVEN’T YOU SENT FOR A REPLACEMENT?”

And she went on, railing on about conspiracy theories and voter intimidation, and at one point she drew a comparison between the jammed machine and Jimmy Hoffa. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

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Just like you can’t make up meeting your favorite droid!

And that, my writer friends, is why I’m telling you this story. We writers are observers first, and we take in the minute details that others gloss over, and used them to create amazing works of fiction and nonfiction. I’m not currently working on a piece about an individual steeped in conspiracy theories who has an incident at a polling location, but maybe someday I will. When I need to write that sort of character, my writing will be stronger because I will have witnessed it first hand.

Now, I’m not exhorting you to go forth and cultivate trouble. What I am saying is to be present and aware as you move about your days, much like you orient your reader to time and space within your writing. Our shared human experience is a gold mine of inspiration, cautionary tales, and, above all, beauty.

And wackiness. Can’t forget the wackiness.

Have you ever witnessed something so out there you thought, wow, you can’t make this stuff up? Tell us in the comments!

htts-1Enter to win an ecopy of Heir to the Sun! https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/1ad36b898ed7a91e

virgin_queen_final-draft_text2The Virgin Queen is on sale for 99 cents: http://amzn.to/2fh2tWM

Finding Inspiration, World Holiday Edition #WriterWednesday #inspiration #amwriting

Hey all! For those of you NaNo-ing, your word count should be right at 3334. Personally, I’m at 1053, but I have 28 days to catch up 😉

Today I’m talking about inspiration again, since having nothing to write about isn’t really conducive to meeting word count goals. Several times, I’ve been inspired by holidays.

Yes, you can be inspired by the more commercial, well-known holidays, but reading about other holidays can spark all sorts of creative thoughts. For instance, today is November 2, All Souls’ Day in the Christian religion, which commemorates the faithful departed.  A quick Google search, and the associated imagery it uncovers, can feed your imagination for a week.

Here are some other interesting, and not widely celebrated (at least not where I am) holidays:

Beer Day – Celebrated in Iceland on March 1. it celebrates the end of Prohibition, and, um, beer.

Lei Day – Celebrated in Hawaii on May 1. The custom is to wear a lei throughout the day.

National Science Day – Celebrated in Thailand on August 18. Commemorates King Mongkut’s prediction and observation of a total solar eclipse in 1868.

Feast Day of Our Lady of Meritxell – Celebrated on September 8 in Andorra. In the 12th century, the statute of the Virgin Mary from the chapel in Mertitxell somehow left the chapel and was found under a wild rose blooming out of season. The villagers took it as a sign to build a new chapel on that site.

The holidays I’ve mentioned above are only the the tip of the iceberg. If you find your inspiration lacking, I highly recommend a virtual stroll among world holidays.

How do you find inspiration? Tell us in the comments!

htts-1Enter to win an ecopy of Heir to the Sun! https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/1ad36b898ed7a91e

virgin_queen_final-draft_text2The Virgin Queen is on sale for 99 cents: http://amzn.to/2fh2tWM