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Andrea Hurst and Associates
by:  Andrea Hurst, Andrea Hurst and Associates; Andrea Hurst Literary Management
e-mail:  info@andreahurst.com
web:  http://www.andreahurst.com, www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-Hurst-and-Associates/174459902871
twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/andreahurst_
The Literary Experts With over 25 years experience as a literary agent, professional editor, and bestselling author, Andrea offers a full suite of services to guide you to publishing success.
September 1, 2015

The INside Track - Setting

Setting is important. Obviously. Otherwise we’d have characters moving about in a bunch of white space, interacting with only each other, while creepy baby music plays overhead…you know, like those old Apple commercials.
Setting is most basically defined as where your story takes place. It can be as broad as the 21st century or as intricate as a specific room. But setting is not just a place you describe and be done with. Written right, setting can enhance, compliment, and become a part of your story just as much as any character. That said, here are three things to think about when crafting stronger settings:

Make it Personal:
Draw setting from your own life. Do you take notice of the daily surroundings and the settings you live in? If you’re a writer then you’re probably aware of the world around you, so that you can translate that awareness into the writing of your story. Of course, the level of detail you give your setting depends upon the kind of story you are trying to write.
An epic fantasy, for example, will require an enormous amount of detail so readers will be completely transported into the ‘reality’ of your fabricated world. But for a hardboiled detective novel, you might only focus on the most important details, creating sparseness in the prose that reflects the hard-edged nature of the story, but no less able to engage the reader.
Once you figure out the kind of story you’re writing, then you create the world. You visualize, you jot down notes—details, of which you must be aware of in your own life too. For each scene of the story, consider the sensory experience of the characters. What do your various settings look like? Smell like? What sounds are present in each locale? More importantly, how do your characters react and interact with their environment?

Make it Interactive:
Characters aren’t static (or they shouldn’t be), so why should the setting be any different? Characters pick up objects, look at things, and use parts of the setting to affect their dialogue or movements. If you’re not having a character interact with a setting, then you’re missing an important part of dialogue ‘beats’, the things that break up strings of dialogue and add texture and flavor to character interaction. Objects and setting prove to be more than just where the conversation is taking place; they can reflect the conversation the characters are having, and in some cases become the focus of conflict.
Having your characters actively engage with their surroundings will help ground readers in the world of the story. Do their environments aid or hinder their progress on their respective journeys? For that matter, what’s the weather like? Weather is tied to setting—it helps set the scene, convey mood, and project atmosphere. Setting will inform characters, and perhaps even vice versa.
You’ve probably seen the old bit where the lovesick hero is suddenly caught in a downpour of rain. This is a very obvious method of conveying the mood of the character through the elements. You can do this with setting and manipulate in any number of ways the effect it has on the character, and you can utilize it to move the story along or stop to make the reader focus on something important, like a certain detail vital to the plot. And again: the characters engage, the readers engage.

Make it Develop:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is one of the best books about growing up Sean has ever read. One reason the main character, Bod’s, transformation from youthful innocence to adulthood is so powerful is that we as readers get to see the transformation of his home—the graveyard—around him, and we get to see how his view of it changes as he grows.
When the book opens, the graveyard is a magical place (isn’t it always?), full of wonder and excitement. But, like most everyone, as we grow we begin to realize things are not as simple, or as magical, as they once were. That loss of wonder mirrors the loss in our own lives and strikes a much more meaningful chord near the end when Gaiman describes the setting as a shadow of what it once was.
How does your setting change over the course of your book (or series)? Like characters, setting too can change. If you use the same setting through the whole book, then it’s a little easier to show gradual change since the reader has a comparison from the beginning. Similarly, a character’s perception of their setting throughout the course of the book can change vastly, and the setting’s external changes can mirror the internal changes of the character.

Setting is so much more than a static entity in your story and, if done correctly, can become a character unto itself. Who can forget Hogwarts, or the Arena from Hunger Games? With a little more thought, your setting can take on a life of its own.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for the next post, leave them below.

Sean & Shawn

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August 20, 2015

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with bestselling author Anna Stewart

National bestselling and award-winning author Anna J. Stewart can't remember a time she didn't have a book in her hands or a story in her head. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating fun, funny, and family-centric romances with happily ever afters for the independent heroines she writes for both Harlequin and Berkley. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural & Sherlock addiction, surrounds herself with friends and family and tolerates an overly affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it's Snickers who tolerates her). Visit Anna online at www.authorannastewart.com.

You describe yourself as a “geek girl.” How has this identity impacted your writing style?

I think being a “geek girl” has empowered my writing and probably my characters as well. I was raised on early girl power TV like The Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman, shows that featured women who could take care of themselves and who didn’t need a man to ride to the rescue. My heroines can definitely handle life on their own. The heroes they find—and want—enhance their lives and make them better people and they’ll do what they need to in order to stake their claim. That said, I do have to be careful not to go too far in the other direction and make sure the hero is there for a purpose. I do write romance, after all.

I think my affinity for “out there shows” like Star Trek and Supernatural and the like helped me to identify with the outliers in society, the ones who don’t fit the mold of expectation. There’re more of us now than there were, but put me in the middle of a fan convention and I'm a happy girl. Aside from the science angle, I’d make a great addition to The Big Bang Theory. That’s what I try to bring to my stories. That we’re all human, just with different experiences and mind sets and guess what? We can all co-exist. How we handle those difference is what’s important…and life altering.

You’ve said that you always had stories in your head. What are some of your strategies for getting these stories out and onto the page? Do you remember the very first creative piece you wrote?

I remember doing a lot of play-acting as a kid. I’d make up my own episodes of Star Trek and act them out in my bedroom (please tell me other only children did this, LOL). I was also fortunate that the one thing my mother NEVER said no to was a book. We had a great used bookstore walking distance from the house and trips to other bookstores were frequent.

I discovered writing in high school when some of my friends and I started writing mini-romances featuring us and our favorite rock stars (an early form of fan fiction?). I became obsessed, much to the detriment of my education, and could spend hours writing out stories long hand which is still how I start each and every new project: a new notebook, a pen, and a copy of 16 Classic Archetypes along with The Character Naming Sourcebook. I actually still have a lot of those stories from all those years ago- in binders, under the bed, where they will remain forever!

What draws you most to the romance genre? Are there certain challenges that you face when writing romance?

As I said earlier, I’m a reader from way back. I think I might have emerged from the womb with a book in my hand and while I started reading adult books super early (there wasn’t any of the YA that’s available now), I was drawn to the romantic elements in those stories. The boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back struck a chord that, until I read my first romance novel I didn’t realize there was a whole genre for. It clicked immediately. From then on, I knew this was what I was meant to do.

There are challenges no matter what genre people write, but I think still, even after all these years, romance carries the stigma of being “easier” to write, or that it’s not a serious pursuit or that it’s all mental fluff. Wrong. Writing romance is hard. I think it’s one of the hardest genres to write because we’re writing about people’s emotions, what makes them tick, what makes them who they are and also we see them at their most vulnerable--right before they commit to another person.

Romance characters aren’t just people in circumstance working their way through a plot of external conflict. Romance authors dive deep and really dig into the meat of character examination and do it in a way that’s very accessible to readers. Every genre has its audience, but there’s a reason someone like Peter Jackson upped the romantic angle in his Lord of the Rings movies. There’s a reason Pride and Prejudice is still a favorite. People, whether they realize it or not, whether they admit it or not, love romance. And there’s also that happily ever after aspect. Nothing beats that, right?

Can you share some of your influences in terms of writers and books? What inspired you in terms of creating the Lantano Valley shared setting. Who do or what do you draw from when world building?

There are the classics of course, the ones that influenced a lot of writers: To Kill A Mockingbird (no comment on the sequel), Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Richard III (Shakespeare), and Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) were the ones for me, but three authors turned me into a writer: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Nora Roberts. I read Carrie when I was eight (no YA books, remember?). That book spoke to me on so many levels, as that “geek girl” who definitely had her own drummer banging away in her head. I could not stop reading (The Stand, to me, is still his best book). I glommed on to anything and everything I could get my hands on. And then I read The Watchers by Dean Koontz. He combined everything I loved about King and Roberts into his own style. I fell in love! By the time I put that book down (I think I was 13 at the time?), the doors in my mind opened. So I did what any geeky fan would do: I wrote her a letter to Nora Roberts and she wrote me back. I still have that letter in my signed first edition of Naked In Death. Write, she told me. Learn. Keep writing and don’t look back. Don’t let anyone tell you know. Don’t let anyone stop you. It took me a while, but I took her advice and I can never thank her enough for it.

As far as creating Lantano Valley, I wanted to set my Tremayne stories in a town where I wanted to live; one that has a real sense of community and camaraderie. I always prefer to create my own cities and settings so I can set things up the way I want (probably comes from when I was writing paranormal).

I also wanted to establish that while the Tremayne family (featured in Asking For Trouble, Here Comes Trouble (both out now) and The Trouble With Nathan, out 2/16), is incredibly wealthy, that they also have a very strong sense of social obligation. Creating Lantano Valley allowed me to have that social divide for a purpose. That’s not to say everyone in Lantano Valley is wealthy. It’s definitely a middle class strong environment, but that’s the great thing about fiction. I can make it whatever I want. Or whatever my characters need.

For world building, I think I draw a lot on my TV and movie addiction (which is serious). I’ve always been a TV junkie, back to when I’d watch Saturday morning cartoons (remember that?). TV can be a strong style of storytelling and literally shows you the world characters inhabit: the Enterprise from Star Trek, or Paradise Island from Wonder Woman. More recently, Sunnydale from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or even modern day Britain for Sherlock. Each of those worlds (and so many others) is distinctive, but each is also relatable and draws people in. That’s what I strive for when I create a new world, be it in contemporary romance, paranormal/Urban Fantasy, or any of the other genres I’m fortunate enough to write.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/blog/

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August 6, 2015

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with screenwriter Suzanne Kelman

Suzanne Kelman is a screenwriter and author of The Rejected Writers Book Club. Her writing voice has been described as a perfect blend of Janet Evanovich and Debbie Macomber. Some of her accolades include best comedy feature screenplay at the 2011 LA International Film Festival, a Gold Award at the 2012 CA Film Awards and a Van Gogh Award at the 2012 Amsterdam Film Festival. She can also sing Puff the Magic Dragon backwards! To learn more about Suzanne, visit her website at www.suzannekelmanauthor.com.

How did you first get into writing? What does your process look like when you’re working on a project?

Firstly, thank you for your interest in my work. I have been writing on and off most of my adult life; my background is in theatre and there was often a need to write short plays or edit a script, but I feel I really became serious about it as a craft in my 40’s. That is when I wrote my first full-length screenplay “Maggie the Brave.”

As far as my process goes, I always work on more than one project at a time. This keeps me from getting writer’s block and also keeps everything I’m doing fresh. If I am struggling on a project the very act of letting it go and thinking about another one is often the key I need to find the answers. I’m also pretty disciplined about my schedule and try to spend at least 4 hours a day actually “writing” and even more when I have deadlines. I tend to write first draft work in the morning when I’m at my most creative.

If I’m having a particularly hard day getting going, I will cut and paste my work into a text to speech app and have the computer read it back to me as I do housework. As I fold laundry I listen for the fluidity of the words and the clarity of story, and also I’m listening for its rhythm. Writing should have a rhythm not unlike music, and each character sings their own part in their own way. I find disconnecting from the “writing” of the work and actually “listening” to the work helps me appreciate the storytelling from a whole different viewpoint. It’s amazing how quickly I will leave whatever I’m doing, move to my computer and start editing. Before I know it I’m back knee-deep in that story again, it works for me every time.

You were born in Scotland and lived for many years in Birmingham, England before moving to Seattle in 1995. What brought you to the Pacific Northwest? How does that heritage, and the landscape/culture of the UK, inform your work?

I came to the Pacific Northwest because my husband started working for the Boeing Company, here in Washington State. We have lived here for 20 years, but it still amazes me how English I am. So often, I have people who don’t know anything about my British upbringing comment about my work along those lines. I think my cultural heritage plays a big part in my work as I often write comedy and being British my humor has a bias in that direction. The Brits have a very interesting way of viewing their world through the eyes of humor, and I think that definitely translates into my writing.

Your book The Rejected Writers Book Club has been praised for including “vivid, realistic characters.” Can you share some of your strategies for creating such relatable characters in your stories?

This is a great question, and I have thought about this a lot as I have tried to teach on this subject. For me, dialogue is one of the most effective ways to create vivid characters, and my background in theatre helped me realize this. When an actor receives a script, they become a detective, reading each line and trying to interpret the clues from the playwright to help them create their character. When I’m writing, I just do that process in reverse. I imagine myself as that character then I try to find the most interesting and entertaining way I can communicate information.

I also remind myself, especially in screenwriting, that dialogue is never about telling the story; the dialogue is always about informing the reader about character. So to help that process I also always try to do this exercise once I have finished a scene. I list out all the things I know about one of the characters, then I go back and read ONLY that characters dialogue, then I make sure that something from my characters list of attributes shows up in the dialogue. Then I go back and do the same thing with the next character’s dialogue and so on. By the end, you have a lot of characters that stand-alone and are true to the individual person you envisioned them to be.

The Rejected Writers Book Club is also being promoted as Volume One of the Southlea Bay Series. What can readers expect for the future of the series?

I am so excited to be working on this series. When I started it I wanted to write a book about people I would love to spend time with and create entertaining, comical and even bizarre circumstances for them to overcome. I wanted the reader to go on a journey of laughter with me, and fall in love with all the craziness that is small-town life. At the moment, there are four books outlined, and I’m working on the second one right now. In this book, I am drawing on all my hilarious experiences I have had in the years in theater. All of the books are stand alone, but there is also an over-arcing storyline that weaves its way through the whole series.

In addition to writing novels, you also write screenplays and have directing experience. Why were you first drawn to visual storytelling? How do you react to seeing your work on the big screen?

Another great question, I love visual storytelling, as I think in pictures, so it is an easy transition for me from what is in my brain to the page. I actually had no idea that screenwriting would be such a passion for me and fell into it by accident when I was writing a stage play that I kept seeing on a movie screen.

I don’t think anyone can prepare you for the joy of seeing your work come to life through the work of actors and a creative team. I write in black and white, and it transforms before my eyes into a vivid Technicolor masterpiece. This can be an exhilarating experience as long as I, as a screenwriter, can let go of control of the outcome. My craft is so much bigger than I am, and once I have executed my part, I have to surrender it to its own creative journey. If you are the kind of writer who likes to see your exact words spoken in the exact emphatic way that you wrote them, then screenwriting is not for you. Filmmaking is a totally collaborative art form.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/blog/

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July 27, 2015

The INside Track

To compete in the world of book publishing, a polished, well-crafted piece of writing is required. Strong characters, a driving plot, and many other elements of fiction must come together to make your story work and create sellable material.

Enter the INside Track: tips on craft, the writing life, and musings from two guys in with the world of agenting and editing on beautiful Whidbey Island.

Sean Fletcher worked as an intern with Andrea Hurst and Associates before becoming an editorial assistant. Despite having a degree in wildlife biology, Sean has written over five novels, dozens of short stories and just published his first book, I Am Phantom. He fuels his creative ideas through bouts of hiking, biking and traveling, and seeks adventure wherever he goes.

When Shawn McGregor tells people he was a writer who lived in West Virginia, they tend to make a face that says: how did you survive? Well, it’s true in a way—the artistic communities are harder to find, whereas his new home on Whidbey Island has an abundance of artists. Before moving to live on Whidbey in Washington State, he dwelled in the relative solitude of the Appalachians while earning his Masters in Creative Writing. The years of deep introspection gave him the fortitude to move across the country and thrust himself into the ever-changing world of publishing. He is now working a post-Masters apprenticeship with Andrea Hurst and Associates, where he is learning editing and consulting. He is now putting his skills to the best use possible, and feels incredibly gratified to help others navigate the shifting face of the publishing business.

The Plot Thickens.

As it should. Some people would argue there are two types of story: character driven and plot driven. As you begin your story, ask yourself: what is driving your characters’ thoughts and actions? What makes them tick? What is missing from their lives that they must seek out in order to find fulfillment? And that’s the key to a strong plot: a motivation that triggers a change within the protagonist. Who they are at the end of the story is not the same as the beginning.

We were recently looking over a manuscript that had no plot. Zero. Zip. Nada. How is that possible? Well, imagine someone’s diary. Now stop imagining that. It’s creepy.

The point is, while each entry in the diary may have something happen in an almost episodic manner, nothing is affected or changed in the long run. Nothing is connected. Nothing moves the story forward. If characters have no dreams, desires, or motives, this prevents readers from investing in the characters and following them on their journeys. The drive needs to be clear and immediate. It should press on the characters and incite them to propel the story along. A character with no effect on the story isn’t really one worth following.

Without plot in your story there’s no real reason to do anything, including read the book. It’s important to figure out your character’s goals and motivations and what everybody wants. Conflict, and through that, plot, is created when someone wants something and something stops them from getting it.

Of course, this is only the first step to building a tight, engaging plot with complex, imperfect characters. Once your characters are firmly set on their journey, there are still many factors to consider, such as: what kind of obstacles stand in their way, and why? Just how far can you push them? These questions don’t have easy answers, and, moreover, the answers tend to be specific to the kind of story you are trying to tell.

So how has this understanding of plot changed our writing? We look for conflict in each scene, making sure that every piece of action, dialogue, and section draws the story forward. Another good rule of thumb when writing engaging plot is to always, always raise the stakes. Raise the stakes, raise the stakes. Did you do it once? Great! Do it again. A great example is our client, Chris Patchell, who Andrea just signed. Andrea offered Chris representation after her book, In the Dark, won a publication contract on Kindle Scout. How did she do that? She raised the stakes. Again and again and again, in a way that made you unable to put the book down.

Check it out: https://kindlescout.amazon.com

Kill someone off (in your book, please. We don’t want to see a mysterious string of murders following this post), reveal a secret (secret babies work great, who knew?) or drastically shift the story to keep the readers on their toes.

A couple things to check in your story for strong plot:

What is the overall idea of the story and does it have enough conflict to make a complete and satisfying book? It’s a hard truth, but not every idea is a story worthy idea.
Does each scene/character have a goal or motivation that can drive the story forward and create conflict? Happy characters are boring characters, after all.

Now get out there and disturb the waters of your story.

Use the comment box to let us know what type of writing & publishing tips and topics you’d like us to explore here.

Thanks for the read.

Sean & Shawn

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July 15, 2015

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Loren Kleinman

Loren Kleinman’s poetry has appeared in journals such Drunken Boat, The Moth, Domestic Cherry, Blue Lake Review, Catch & Release (Columbia University), LEVURE LITTÉRAIRE, Nimrod, Wilderness House Literary Review, Narrative Northeast, Writer’s Bloc, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Paterson Literary Review (PLR), Resurgence (UK), HerCircleEzine and Aesthetica Annual. Her interviews appeared in IndieReader, USA Today, and The Huffington Post. She’s also published essays in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Seventeen Magazine. She is the author of Flamenco Sketches and Indie Authors Naked, which was an Amazon Top 100 bestseller in Journalism in the UK and USA. Kleinman’s The Dark Cave Between My Ribs was named one the best poetry book of 2014 by Entropy Magazine. Her third collection of poetry Breakable Things released via Winter Goose Publishing in March 2015. She is also working on a novel, This Way to Forever, a collection of prose poems, Stay with Me Awhile, and a collection of essays, The Woman with a Million Hearts. She is a faculty member at New York Writer’s Workshop. Loren’s website is: lorenkleinman.com.

In addition to writing, you also run a blog through IndieReader.com, featuring interviews with publishing professionals. What has been your favorite part of this experience? How do you decide who to interview?

I love connecting with writers at various stages in their careers. With IndieReader I’m specifically interviewing indie authors as well as hybrid authors (both indie and traditional published). There’s something very special about the interview. Yes, it’s about finding out more about their careers and all the killer stuff they’re doing, the books they wrote, their bestsellers, but it’s also an opportunity for me to stretch out national conversations about writing, especially the indie community. I still think there’s a stigma associated with indie authors, like their work is less than that of authors that choose to traditionally publish. This is a bunch of b.s. There are plenty of books, everywhere that suck and are equally excellent regardless of who publishes where.

You see, the real aspect of indie, that I love so much is not just representative of self-publishing. To me, indie has always been about staying true to oneself, and whether that’s deciding to self-publish or traditionally publish, that’s a personal decision. My goal of any interview is to show the audience how that author celebrates their authentic self. So, not only am I interested in authors that sell thousands and sometimes millions of books, I’m interested in their journeys and how they connect with their readers. It’s up to the reader to decide about their authenticity and discover how they connect with their readers, their audiences, their writing and themselves.

Can you tell us about the benefits authors may gain from joining IndieReader? Your book Indie Authors Naked tackles the world of independent publishing. How do you think indie publishing has changed the world of book publishing?

Authors don’t join IndieReader (IR); it’s more about helping readers/consumers find out about the best indie publishing. On one side, IR showcases indie authors, but on the other side, it’s about connecting indie authors with readers. IR is the definitive site for anyone who ever wants to find out more about indie authors. I also think it might’ve been the first to ever help readers discover an indie author through our IR Discovery Awards and Indie Bestseller List.

I love the fact that it really widened the playing field for many types of authors that might’ve been undiscovered or unrecognized by the traditional publishing community. I mean, not every book is rejected based on quality, and really, who the hell judges that besides the reader. For example, let’s say you have a great book about spiders and then the publishing house you want to publish with already published 50 books about spiders, well your spider book might not make the cut, but you can still self-publish your spider book.

But seriously, thank goodness for indie authors. I think we wouldn’t have some of the best literature of our time if it weren’t for indie authors sticking to what they believe in. At the end of the day it’s about the work, and if someone rejects your work they’re probably not your audience, but that doesn’t mean there is no audience.

Just check out this article by David Vinjamuri over at Forbes called “Publishing Is Broken, We're Drowning In Indie Books - And That's A Good Thing.” I love that Vinjamuri points to some indie authors who, later in their careers, have gone on to sign some pretty big time contracts with publishers. The point is they didn’t wait for someone to publish their book. They believed in it, regardless of the outcome. That is the true spirit of indie.

You also publish personal essays in magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Seventeen, and Cosmopolitan, and you blog regularly for The Huffington Post. Do you have any advice for writers looking to get their pieces published in these arenas?

Hustle. I spend hours a day combing the Internet for opportunities, networking with writers, editors and publishers. It’s important to have pitches ready to go and to study the style of the publication. I pay close attention to what each magazine publishes and then review their guidelines, and take a chance. For every article I publish, there are ten more that have been rejected. I just get back on the track. I can’t stop running.

The other side of this is sometimes luck. Not every piece I pitch gets picked and sometimes the ones that I think have a shot are the ones that get rejected. I’ve done my best work when I just let go and write from an honest place, when I don’t write what I think people want to hear. Again, be true to your voice and submit as much as possible. You should always have something you're working on and at least ten to 25 submissions out there in the universe.

The more you do, the more build you create, the more energy you create. Something turns up, eventually. But, I always tell people wanting to publish anywhere, to read, to study and research what that publication is interested in. You have to put in your time, and part of that is to learn not to waste your time.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/blog/

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A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with bestselling author Mary Buckham
originally posted: June 24, 2015

USA Today bestselling author Mary Buckham learned to get into and out of trouble at a very early age. Time has added to her opportunities—detained by Israeli intelligence; strip-searched by a Greek border patrol while traveling with a priest, sneaking into Laos. When not personally avoiding nuisances caused by her insatiable curiosity she creates lots of disorder in her two Urban Fantasy series—Alex Noziak and Kelly McAllister. In her spare time Mary writes Writing Craft books including, Writing Active Setting, Writing Active Hooks and Break Into Fiction® co-authored with Dianna Love.

If Mary’s not hiding, find out more about her and visit her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

When did you first begin writing? Did you know then that was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?

I thought in terms of story since childhood, snagging my brothers and sisters to act in plays I created with great gusto. As for writing for publication, not until my late thirties when I left an intense management job that easily meant six and seven days a week to stay on top of the demands. After I left that I looked for an opportunity to do something from home so I wrote my first novel, which taught me that writing for publication was a whole different beast than writing down what was in my head.

Can you tell us about your writing process? How do you manage your time? In general, how long does it usually take you to finish a book?

My writing process involves doing whatever it takes to get the next book written and the one after that. There’s no set schedule as I travel to teach workshops, teach online and consistently juggle multiple demands. I was fortunate, as I started writing with five children between the ages of nine and one. Best time management trainers in the world. As for length of time to finish a book, I let it gel in my head for a while so that when I sit down to write it can take from one to two months before it’s making the rounds with my content and copy editors, then on to my beta readers.

As the acclaimed author of the Invisible Recruit series, what is it that attracts you to the urban fantasy genre? What do you think it is about Alex Noziak that makes her such a compelling heroine for the series?

I love Urban Fantasy because it’s such a cross-genre smorgasbord of so many types of books—the pacing of a thriller, the complexity of a suspense, romantic relationships that always add complications and the who-done-it of a mystery. Plus, in this particular series it’s about women’s’ empowerment and growth, so there’s a lot of juicy material to explore on the page. As for Alex Noziak, she’s part witch, part shaman; born in Mud Lake, Idaho and is half Native American. She comes with a lot of baggage and an equal amount of heart. She doesn’t expect life to be easy but is willing to fight for the greater good anyway and readers appreciate those qualities in her.

You have a third Kelly McAllister novel, titled Invisible Embrace, coming out this summer. How would you compare writing a character like Kelly to a character like Alex? They are both strong female heroines, but is one more difficult to write than the other, and why?

For me writing about former Kindergarten teacher Kelly McAllister was much harder than in-your-face Alex Noziak, which is why, as a writer, I wanted to push my comfort level and write about a very different type of heroine. Kelly has had to face a lot of hard knocks, which tries her innate goodness, her defining characteristic in the eyes of her fellow Invisible Recruit Agents. So as Kelly grows and changes, her whole team must also grow and change.

You also collaborate with NYT author Dianna Love to become author Micah Caida on the young adult, sci-fi/fantasy Red Moon Series. What strategies work best when collaborating with another creative mind? How is the workload split up?

The lovely element about collaboration is that there is no one formula that works for all writers or types of books. Early on my co-collaborator and I agreed there would be nothing sacred. We worked and reworked until we could no longer tell who wrote what and our guiding mantra was “it works if the story is made stronger”. Every collaboration is different as far as workload, but for us we passed pages back and forth and set deadlines for ourselves that worked. Collaboration takes a lot of communication, commitment, and a strong work ethic that’s in sync with your co-author. I was very fortunate to be able to work with Dianna and would do so again in a heartbeat.

In addition to being an author, you also teach others the craft of writing. How has this been rewarding for you? What are some of the challenges of instructing others?

I think that to be a strong teacher it helps to actually learn by trial and error. I love to analyze but that’s only half the picture. Writing is more than an intellectual pursuit, it’s also a physical process—it’s a verb. Working with thousands of writers both online and in person has expanded my world in so many ways, and to see a student take the concepts and apply them to strengthen their own work, regardless of what they write, is extremely rewarding. The challenge? Making the time to create my own work, which has required cutting back on a lot of my in-person and online teaching.

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AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Bella Andre and Melissa Foster
originally posted: May 4, 2015

Bella Andre’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling novels have been #1 bestsellers around the world, having hit the bestseller lists 23 times, with more than 4 million copies sold so far. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into ten languages. Bella also writes bestselling sweet contemporary romances under the pen name Lucy Kevin. http://www.BellaAndre.com

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

How did your mutual interest in romance writing act as a catalyst to draw you both together?

Bella: I’ve always been a huge romance reader, reading a book-a-day when I can fit them into my busy writing schedule! Both Melissa and I absolutely love the romance genre, so when we decided to write together, we automatically knew we’d write a contemporary romance series about a close-knit family—and that we’d set it in Cape Cod.

What made you decide to write a romance series instead of doing a romance collection with one another?

One of the many things that we have in common is our love for our readers, and our desire to bring them the best stories possible. Giving readers a romance collection is done quite often, and it’s a great way to collaborate, but we wanted to bring our readers something even more exciting—a whole new world.

It’s really fun to create something new with another writer, especially one who is so creative and smart. The brainstorming process for each of the books has been a tremendous amount of fun for us!

What does your collaborative process look like? How did you divide the workload between the two of you? Were there ever times when you strongly disagreed on something and had to compromise?

We’re quite lucky, because we agree on most everything. We’ve both heard horror stories of collaborations going awry, but we spend hours on the phone and email planning our stories, and we find that we feed off of each other’s creativity. Each of our fingers are in every aspect of the planning, writing, and revising.

Your upcoming novel, Cape Cod Kisses is the first book in the Love on Rockwell Island series. How is it different to write a series versus focusing on a stand-alone novel? Is one more difficult than the other?

Any novel takes a lot of planning and research, but the planning of a series is more complicated than that of a stand alone novel, because we’re planning five books, with ten heroes/heroines, and a host of other characters, plots, and subplots. We wouldn’t say either is more difficult, because both are so much fun, but series can be more complex. Fortunately, we both have extensive experience writing long running series, so we have a really good understanding of the process.

How many books do you plan to have in the Love on Rockwell Island series?

We’re planning five books in the Love on Rockwell Island series, but we’re already getting excited about wedding books, and we’re meeting new characters that we can’t wait to write about.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/

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A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

ANDREA HURST, President of Andrea Hurst & Associates
www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-Hurst-and-Associates/174459902871
Andrea works with both bestselling and emerging new authors to help polish their work, obtain publication, increase sales, and build their author brand.
She brings over 25 years experience. She is a developmental editor for publishers and authors, a bestselling Amazon author, an instructor for the MFA creative writing program at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, and a webinar presenter for Writers’ Digest. As a literary agent, she selectively represents high profile adult nonfiction and well-crafted fiction. Her clients and their books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, National Geographic network, and in the NY Times.

For serious writers and professionals in need of assistance polishing, developing, and evaluating their book for publication and beyond, she offers the services listed on the right sid