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Andrea Hurst and Associates
by:  Andrea Hurst, Andrea Hurst and Associates; Andrea Hurst Literary Management
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.
August 10, 2016

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Ashley Farley

Ashley Farley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her goal is to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning. If her story stays with you long after you've read the last word, then she's done her job. After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save. Ashley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions. Ashley loves to hear from her readers.
Feel free to visit her on Facebook at or
Amazon author page
Author website

As a bestselling author, how do you keep your readers “turning pages until the wee hours of the morning”? What are some of your strategies for maintaining suspense in your books?

I learned this lesson a long time ago. If I’m bored writing a scene or chapter, my readers will be bored reading it. When I start surfing the Internet for a new pair of shoes, it’s time to either throw out the chapter or mix things up a bit. Writing from multiple characters’ viewpoints creates opportunity for more plot points. Cliffhangers at the end of a chapter are a great way to keep a reader engaged. If the reader starts a new chapter, chances are she will finish it.

What is your writing process? Do you write every day?

When I am in first draft mode, my goal is to write a chapter every day. For subsequent drafts, I set goals that enable me to meet my publishing deadlines. So yes, I write every day.

When you write, are you more of a pre-planner or do you just let yourself write and mold the story as you go along?

A little of both. I swim laps every morning. During that time, I plan scenes, paragraphs, and sentences. When I sit down at my computer later, the words flow much easier. When I start a project, I usually have a general plot in mind. But I count on my characters to show me the way.

What keeps you motivated?

My readers! I love hearing from them. Knowing I have touched their lives motivates me to give them more.

Your latest novel, Lowcounty Stranger, was just released this month. What inspired you to write this continuation of the Sweeney sisters’ story?

I took a break from the Sweeney sisters to write Merry Mary and Breaking the Story. I felt a connection with Scottie Darden and her brother, Will, but it was more from the parent/child perspective. I relate to the Sweeney sisters more because they are the same age as me, and each exhibits a different facet of my personality.

Do you think you’ll write more featuring the Sweeney sisters? How did your writing experience alter in comparison to your first novel about them?

Yes! Boots and Bedlam, a Sweeney Sisters holiday novella, is scheduled for release on October 18. And I’m deep in the first draft of the untitled fourth sequel. Writing about the sisters was much easier the second time because I already knew the characters so well. I understood their likes and dislikes. Their talents and their flaws. But I struggled with the backstory. There’s a fine line between bringing the reader to speed and giving away too much. You want to present a stand-alone book for new readers, but you don’t want to spoil it if they decide to go back and read the first novel.

You introduce new character, Annie Dawn, in Lowcounty Stranger. What inspired you to incorporate her into the Sweeney sisters’ world?

I had unfinished business with all three sisters that I wanted to address. Hence the need for a sequel. Annie Dawn’s plot line tied everything together. I really Annie’s character. She’s resourceful and street smart, yet naïve in certain ways. She’s kind and considerate and touches all their lives. Yes, you will see much more of Annie Dawn in the books ahead.

You’ve mentioned that your brother’s death led you to use your writing talents to reach others, and your novel Saving Ben is a direct result of that. What do you hope readers will take away from this novel in particular?

I want others to know they’re not alone in struggling with addiction, mental illness, bullying, and eating disorders. Okay, so maybe there are a lot of themes for one novel. But hey, it will hold your attention until the dramatic conclusion. An interesting note on the ending, by the way. I hadn’t planned the startling conclusion. When I arrived at the scene, I let my characters show me the way. I love it when they take control.

Have you been able to find some peace through your endeavors? How can others make a difference like you?

Very much so. Writing Saving Ben was therapy for coping with my grief over my brother’s death. My writing career in general is about me having a life outside of my family. I’m devoted to my children and husband, but having something that belongs only to me makes me feel complete. People make differences in many ways. After my brother died, I envisioned myself speaking to groups of young people on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. I quickly learned that I’m not a public speaker. Words come much easier for me when I’m putting them on paper. I encourage readers to identify their passion. Whatever it is that drives your emotions, find a way to express it to others. No one’s effort is insignificant.

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July 18, 2016

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with award-winning author Rachel Aaron

Rachel Aaron is the author of 10 novels, including the Fantasy fan favorites The Legend of Eli Monpress and Nice Dragons Finish Last. She also writes romantic Science Fiction under the name Rachel Bach, starting with Fortune's Pawn, a high octane romantic adventure about a powered armor mercenary who gets in way over her head, published by Orbit Books.

In addition to her fiction, Rachel is also known for her bestselling writing efficiency book 2K TO 10K: WRITING BETTER, WRITING FASTER, AND WRITING MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE. To learn more about Rachel and all her titles, visit!

How did you know when it was the right time for you to make the transition to “writing full time, all the time”?

Ha, well, for me it was simple. I started in traditional publishing, and it just so worked out that I got pregnant and got a book deal for my first novel at the same time. I was working a low paying job at the time, and my husband had insurance, so I just kind of threw caution to the wind and quit shortly after I got the phone call. Lucky for me, it worked out, and I haven’t had to get a “real job” ever since.

On a side note, this is one of those situations where traditional publishing shines. Getting my advance up front let me quit my job and go full time right away, a lot sooner than self-publishing would have let me. This was also back in 2008, before the self pub boom really got going, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Authors today have a lot more options on the table. That said, I wouldn’t change a thing about my career. Starting out in traditional was a huge advantage for me. Working with a career editor you can’t say no to is a priceless experience for an author, and while selling my books to NY definitely hurt my earnings in the long run, for where I was at the time, it was a very good thing for me and I don’t regret it a bit.

What does your writing process look like today, between juggling a family, an informative blog, and putting out great books?

I’m very lucky to have a husband who not only supports my writing, but actively helps out in the “family business.” My husband Travis is my manager in so many ways. He takes care of business stuff, helps on the blog, does most of the housework and cooking. You name it, Trav does it, and all so I can get more writing time! Thanks to him, I’m routinely able to hit 8-11k words a day on my novels, which is huge progress. He really is priceless, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the work he puts into my great dream.

But not everyone has a Travis. Before my writing was making enough to let him quit his job as well, I was the housewife and writer all in one, and it was NOT easy! I had to set aside my writing time and jealously guard it if I wanted any hope of meeting my deadlines. This was the situation that inspired the 2k-10k jump, actually. I couldn’t get more time to write—I’d already come close to killing for the time I’d carved out—so I had to get more efficient with the hours I did have.

You call your first novel, The Legend of Eli Monpress, “the book that started it all.” What sticks out in your mind when you look back on writing that particular novel? Is there anything you would change about it if you could go back in time?

The Eli books were an odd bird for me. I’d written a very serious Epic Fantasy as my first novel and saw myself as a Serious Fantasy Author. Trouble was, the serious Fantasies weren’t catching agent attention. Also, I was getting kind of tired of being so serious all the time. Then, one day, I had this idea about a wizard thief who wanted a one million gold bounty on his head.

I tried to push it away because it frankly felt too silly, but the characters just kept nagging at me until I finally just sat down and wrote the first scene, which is almost word for word what is now the opening of The Spirit Thief. The moment I finished, I knew this was it. This was the book that was going to take me to New York! And it did.

Honestly, I don’t think I’d change a single thing about my career so far. Everything I’ve done, including the mistakes, has made me the writer I am today, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world!

Your Paradox Series is published by Orbit books, under the name Rachel Bach. This makes you a hybrid author both traditionally and self-published. What do you see as the benefits and downsides to both methods? Why did you choose to use a pen name for this series?

The pen name was my publisher’s idea. When I pitched the Paradox books, my Eli series was not selling well (it went on to sell much better after the publisher gave it a new cover later that year). My Paradox books were also very different in tone from my other stuff, not to mention being Science Fiction. Because of all this, Orbit decided to rebrand me, and since I wanted to publish with them, I went with it.

Hindsight being 20/20, it was a good decision. As Trav and I have talked about on the blog, author brand need to be specific. Our names as writers are our logos, and you want your reader to know what they’re getting when they see “Rachel Aaron” on a cover. This kind of brand management was what Orbit was after, and despite the INCREDIBLE ANNOYANCE of having two names, I think it was a smart move over all.

I still hate having my readers split, though.

To answer your question about being a hybrid author…I didn’t actually set out to be one. Like I mentioned earlier, when I got into the book business, self publishing was still seen as the last resort of the desperate. Every author blog and writing advice column was constantly screaming at us not to even think about self publishing, so…I didn’t.

But when the sea change of the early 2010s hit, I started singing a different tune. All of a sudden, self publishing wasn’t so fringe anymore. I was meeting lots of self published authors at conventions who not only were making good money, but they had good books, and they were making their own business decisions!

That was really what decided it for me. I’m a giant control freak, and I love running a business. As much as I like Orbit, giving up control of my books to a publisher was a source of constant stress to me. So, after a brief and highly successful self publishing experience with my writing non-fic, 2k to 10k, I decided to go it solo with my next Rachel Aaron series. That first book was Nice Dragons Finish Last, and let’s just say it’s performed better than my wildest hopes. I was making more money than ever, and I had total control. It was kind of a dream come true. After that, I was hooked.

I still do projects for New York because sometimes a project comes in that you just couldn’t land on your own, (like writing a novel for a major IP like Star Wars, which I’m not doing, but just as an example). I’d also go back to NY if I wrote a YA novel since YA still does very well in print. Over all, though, I’ve gotten way too spoiled by the self pub freedom and money to ever go back to NY for good. But that’s what being hybrid is all about: getting to choose yourself whom you write for. Trust me, as an author who started out in the time of no choice, that is a HUGE breakthrough.

Your award-winning book 2,000 to 10,000 (2k to 10K) is all about increasing the quantity and the quality of an author’s daily word count. As a novelist, what inspired you to write this book?

The baby situation I mentioned above! It really came down to three factors: the book was late, I needed more time to get it done, and I didn’t have that time. I had a new baby, a hard deadline, and 12 hours a week of paid baby sitter time to write. There was no getting around it: I had to get faster, or I was going to crash and burn. So I got scientific, through out my old assumptions, and actually analyzed what I was doing with my writing.

As you can tell from the title of the book, the results were amazing. I went from writing 2,000 in six hours to writing 10,000 in the same time, without sacrificing quality. And before you say that’s crazy, my original 2k to 10k blog post is still up and free. I explain my whole system there, so go read what I did for yourself and see if it’s crazy. I can’t say it will work for you quite as well as it did for me—every writer is different—but I know for sure that it’s helped thousands of writers double their daily word counts. That’s gotta count for something!

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

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June 6, 2016

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with best-selling author Patricia Sands

A confessed travel fanatic, best-selling author Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else, and calls the south of France her second home. I Promise You This, Book 3 in her award-winning Love in Provence trilogy, was published May 17, 2016.

Find out more at Patricia’s Facebook Author Page, Amazon Author Page or her website. There are links to her books, social media, and a monthly newsletter that has special giveaways and sneak peeks at her next book.

What inspired you to choose being an author as a career choice and write women’s fiction?

My story is probably different from most others that you hear. I began writing my first novel, The Bridge Club, shortly after I turned sixty. (Yikes, I always have a little nervous twitch when I say that age out loud!) I began writing it for my real-life Bridge Club, a group of ten women with whom I’ve been friends since we were all turning twenty. One thing led to another as people read excerpts of my manuscript and I was encouraged to fictionalize and publish it as a novel. Thanks to the response, and the fact that I realized I loved writing fiction, my new career began. I like writing to my demographic and telling women’s stories. A recurring theme is that it is never too late to begin something new in life. I’m proof!

Do you write every day? What is your process like? Do you have particular ways you stay motivated?

I do write every day. I wake up early and can’t wait to get to the keyboard. I usually dive right into my current manuscript and later I take some time to check emails and social media. Of course, the latter is an enormous time suck and it takes discipline to turn it off and get back to writing. I’ve been a photographer all my life and use my photos a lot on my blog, on Facebook and in my monthly newsletter. My new addiction is Instagram (@patricialsands) and I usually spend an hour on that at night (in bed, on my phone … if the truth be known). I’m a nighthawk so it’s a great way to end the day.

I love writing and everything that goes with it, so I honestly have no trouble staying motivated. Having said that, I also play tennis a couple of times a week and spend time with our large blended family (7 grown children plus partners, 6 grandchildren … so far). Fortunately, they all all live quite close by. Friendships are very important to me and there’s always time to go to lunch or golf with girlfriends. It may sound weird, but everything I do inspires me to keep writing.

You call yourself a travel fanatic, and visit the south of France quite regularly and incorporate this setting into your Love in Provence Series. What is it about this location that drew you to set your books there?

Now that’s a dangerous question! You don’t really want to get me started on the south of France! I’ll attempt to be brief. I first fell in love with that part of the world when I backpacked with friends after university in 1967. I’ve been fortunate to return often and for the past twenty years, my husband and I spend extended time there in spring, summer or fall … it varies from year to year. The beauty, history, culture, cuisine (and a long list of other things) make me want to share my love of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur with readers.

In 2015 you went from being exclusively an indie author, to signing with Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing imprint. How has this affected your writing career? Do you find being a hybrid author beneficial?

I was surprised and delighted when Lake Union invited me to sign with them. I had been a very happy indie author and will probably still self-publish from time to time. However, the editorial support and guidance Lake Union offers is excellent and the team they assigned to assist with the publication of my books is amazing … professional, collaborative and knowledgeable. I feel very fortunate to be working with them.

Your latest book, I Promise You This speaks to allowing your heart to lead the way. You can talk more about the theme and your connection to it?

I Promise You This is Book 3 in the Love in Provence series. The general theme that runs through the series concerns making changes in mid-life: listen to your heart and don’t be afraid to follow it. That is something in which I am a big believer. I often speak about this to women’s groups and I know it will always be something I write about.

Can you tell us a little about the book trailer for your Love in Provence series? What advice do you have for authors thinking about making their own book trailers?

That trailer began as the one for The Promise of Provence. When I wrote that book I didn’t realize it would become a series, but the reader response was enormous and everyone wanted to know more about the characters. It was a pleasure to continue the story and we realized the trailer really applied to the whole series so we only had to make a few changes. The photography is all mine with some video clips added by the company that produced the trailer. They were great to work with and it was a very personal experience. We worked closely together to get exactly the feel I wanted. I think making trailers is a great idea, but I do recommend working with people who can add their technical expertise. I’m happy to share the name of the company I used if anyone wants to email me about it.

How important do you feel social media is for marketing your books? Have book giveaways been an effective marketing tool for you?

Before I signed with Lake Union, all of my marketing began with social media. Whenever I was using a promotion site, those links would be shared on all my social media platforms. I think one of the most important things is to connect with lots of writers and readers. It was a wonderful surprise for me to learn how connected and supportive writers and readers are and how we all help each other.

Book giveaways are fun to do, but the most effective marketing tool is to keep writing good books. Encouraging readers to share their thoughts in reviews is also extremely beneficial.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog.

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May 20, 2016

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with bestselling author Jaye Wells

Jaye Wells is a former magazine editor whose award-winning speculative fiction novels have hit several bestseller lists. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and is a sought-after speaker on the craft of writing. When she’s not writing or teaching, she loves to travel to exotic locales, experiment in her kitchen like a mad scientist, and try things that scare her so she can write about them in her books. She lives in Texas. For more about her books, upcoming events, and writing craft articles check out

As a bestselling author, do you feel pressure to succeed and outdo yourself with each new book? If so, how do you deal with the stress?

I used to feel that way, but I’ve learned the hard way that is the path to burn out. Now, I focus more on process and writing the best book I’m capable of writing and letting the rest work itself out. It’s also important to keep up with self-care when writing. I do yoga, meditate, go for long walks, and make sure I’m getting enough time with friends and family to make sure I’m balanced.

What is it about speculative fiction that makes it so fun to write? How did you first get into this genre? What authors inspired you?

Speculative fiction genres allow me to write about real world problems, conflicts, and characters using metaphors. Plus, it’s just plain fun.

I got into writing paranormal stories about a decade ago. I took a writing class because I decided it was time to finally try writing instead of just talking about it. The teacher advised us to look at our bookcases and see which sorts of books we read the most. As it happened, I had shelves filled with tons of vampires stories—ranging from Anne Rice to Sherrilyn Kenyon to Bram Stoker. I’d never realized before that moment how much I enjoyed reading those stories. I decided to write my own vampire story, and pretty much never looked back. Although, I should say that over the years, my main subject matter has evolved from vampires to magic users.

It’s said that you like to “try scary things so [you] can write about them.” What kinds of “scary things” have you tried and how have those experiences influenced your writing?

That quote mainly referred to all of the training I did for my Prospero’s War series. My main character, Kate Prospero, is a cop, so I signed up for a couple of different police academies, which required me to drive cop cars at top speeds and do ride-alongs in the middle of the night. It was a lot of fun, but I probably would have talked myself out of it had I not needed the experience for a book.

You’ve composed many blog posts and Youtube videos about the craft of writing. Why do you find Youtube and blog posts to be such effective mediums for your message? Have you ever thought about writing a book about the craft?

They’re good mediums for me because I can easily put up new material every week. They’re both also easily shareable. The Youtube video series is a new addition and I’m really enjoying it. I keep each of the lessons under ten minutes so they’re easy for people to watch when they need a little inspiration.

You’ve written about writers needing to be more flexible. What strategies do you have for writers who are looking to get out of their comfort zone? Do you ever struggle with flexibility? Why is being flexible so important?

Flexibility is important in that every book offers new challenges. The more tools a writer has in their toolbox, the easier it is to duck and weave when new problems pop up. I also think we have to be less invested the in the mythologies we create about our writing. If you tell yourself that “real writers” don’t do this or that you could be actively working against your own progress. We get too invested in “shoulds” and acting like writing has to feel like punishment to be legitimate that we forget that writing can and should be fun a lot of the time. Being flexible allows more space for play.

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April 15, 2016

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Acquisitions Director Lynn Price

Since 2003, Behler Publications has been publishing best selling and critically acclaimed memoir/nonfiction about everyday people who end up doing extraordinary things due to a pivotal event that alters their perspective about life. Acquisitions Director Lynn Price looks for books where readers say, "I'm a better/more thoughtful/smarter person for having read this book."

Bestsellers include Jan’s Story, by CBS journalist Barry Petersen, Finding Dad by Emmy Awarding winning and Better Connecticut TV host Kara Sundlun, Fancy Feet, by PNWA attendee Heidi Cave, and You Let Some GIRL Beat You?: The Story of Ann Meyers Drysdale.

In between her editing duties, Lynn is the irreverent voice of the Behler Blog, and employs two unreliable rescue beagles to serve as her secretaries.

How did you first get into book publishing as a career choice? What advice do you have for someone looking into this career path?

The short answer is that we were insane and looking to see how far we could go before our collective heads blew up. The longer answer is that I was publishing a novel through a now-well-known author mill publisher. I was grousing to my husband about how I could do a better job than these yahoos. He looked at me…and I looked at him…and asked, “Oh dear, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Seemed he was, and Behler Publications was born…so named after one of my main characters, Erik Behler. Without him and that novel, none of this would have happened. What advice would I give? That’s easy: Get thee to an experienced mentor who’s well-established in the industry; raise a ton of money…and I do mean a ton; be very clear about your company’s vision and what genre you want to publish; understand that genre’s marketplace; get excellent distribution. It’s vital to know what you’re doing because you carry the literary futures of your authors, and it’s criminal to take their work and screw it up by not properly editing, marketing, promoting, and distributing their works. Being a publisher isn’t for the faint of heart.

Your company, Behler Publications, focuses primarily on memoir and biography. What is it about these genres that make them such fascinating reads?

I’m a sociology major from ‘way back, so I’ve always loved stories about what the common person does with uncommon circumstances. Life can drop some pretty dramatic events in our laps, and we can either let them rule us, or we can transcend our experiences and come out much more thoughtful, wonderful people. I draw so much inspiration from our authors and the incredible journeys they’ve traveled. Very humbling…and it’s an honor to be a part of their lives, if only in a literary sense.

Behler Publications is a member of Consortium Book Sales and Distribution. Can you tell us a little more about that relationship and how it has benefitted the company?

Love, love, love Consortium to pieces. They have allowed our footprint to grow ten-fold through their in-house sellers and regional sales teams. Each season, we have a marketing meeting that consists of about twelve Consortium folks – marketing, promotion, VP’s, catalog, etc. This is where we introduce each new upcoming title. We discuss cover art, the title, the hot points that make each book a “gotta have it.” They ask tough questions that really make me consider the marketability and size of audience of each title. It’s helped me a great deal with new submissions because I look at each new project with the inevitable questions I know Consortium will ask. Additionally, they have resources that aren’t available to the un-repped publisher. I’ve gotten some of our authors into exclusive conferences where they can meet and greet with the booksellers in a given territory – thank you very much, regional teams! It’s not uncommon to get an email from someone at Consortium saying they read an article and instantly thought of one of our books and I should send so-and-so a copy of the book. Beyond all that, they’ve gotten our books into bookstores all around the country – and that’s not an easy task, given the limited shelf space of most stores these days.

What is the number one thing you look for in a good memoir submission?

The subject matter comes first. I’m always looking for “the twist.” What I mean by that is, say, the medical memoirs are a dime a dozen, but if your topic covers something that few have written about, you’ll get my attention. For example, one of our new releases is A Chick in the Cockpit by Erika Armstrong. I fell in love with this story because here you have this powerful woman whose single-minded determination has her sitting in the captain’s seat of the big gun jets. But that same single-minded determination was also her undoing. It’s those polar opposites that make me sit up and take notice because it’s something that can happen to anyone. The second thing I look for is the quality of writing. You’ve got to know what you’re doing! Lastly, I look at author platform. I know it’s a dirty word, but for memoir, a strong platform is vital. You can have a great story, but if no one knows you, then it’s awfully hard to launch you in this media-driven world.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see memoir writers make?

Far and away, most authors don’t do any research about their competition. They sit down and bang out their story, never knowing if the subject matter is highly impacted because they haven’t read any books in their topic. This would be the cancer stories, aging, divorce, addiction, death…the bookshelves are loaded with them. This is because authors don’t take the time to learn about the industry they want to be a part of. It’s frustrating because the Internet is bursting with writers sites and forums that are geared toward educating the new writer.

You are also the author of The Writer’s Essential Toolbox, winner of the 2010 USA Book News Literary Award. What prompted you to write this book?

I used to do a ton of writer’s conferences, and gave a lot of seminars about the tips and pitfalls of sitting on my side of the desk. I constantly had authors asking me why I didn’t write a book about these seminars, so I finally sat down and did it.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our 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 author Suzanne Kelman
originally posted: March 25, 2016

Suzanne Kelman is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright and the author of The Rejected Writers’ Book Club, being released March 29th. Her accolades include The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences- Nicholl Fellowship Finalist, Best Comedy Feature Script- L.A. International Film Festival and Gold Award Winner- California Awards.

You’re about to have your novel, The Rejected Writer’s Book Club, re-released by Lake Union Publishing. What has the process of working with a publisher versus self-publishing been like for you?

First, it’s such an incredible honor to be picked up by such an amazing publisher and secondly it’s wonderful to have a team behind me for all the stages of creating that book. Lake Union is a fantastic publisher, and they have all worked hard and created something we are all very proud of. I also loved being an Indie, because I had an opportunity just to get my work out there, so I am grateful for the times we live in, where being an Indie writer is a possibility.

What was your favorite part of writing The Rejected Writer’s Book Club? What was the most challenging part?

My favorite part is writing the characters and the humor that comes from that creative process. They will often surprise me with one-liners that will make me laugh out loud as I write them. I also love moving through the adventure of the story. Me and “the girls” start out together with our backpacks and flashlights prepared for anything. I actually never really know clearly what we will encounter in the outback of story-dom. I have a vague idea of the storyline, but it is their unique character traits that create the twists and turns they experience along the way. My least favorite part is editing; it’s like tidying up in the morning after a raucous party the night before. You can’t believe the mess you got into having such a great time, and you’re pretty sure you’re not going to get that wine stain out of the carpet.

The new book cover looks fantastic! Can you tell us a bit about the process of selecting it?

It actually went through four or five rounds of approval until we all agreed on the cover we all loved. Funny enough, Andrea loved the stacked tea cups from the beginning. All the cover ideas the team came up with were great; it was just a matter of pinning it down for branding and the right esthetics that we all felt complemented the series.

Where did you get the inspiration for Janet Johnson and the other members of the quirky book club? If given the chance, would you spend time having tea and lemon cake with these women in real life?

I already spend time in real life with characters just like this. Living in a small town is like that; you learn to love and appreciate everyone, even the eccentric members of a group. But friendship and a desire to bond is the center of any small town, and there are no finer people to rally around you in an emergency. Janet was my window into the world of small-town eccentricities from an outsider’s point of view. I am British and moved to my town from a big city in England, so I understand what it felt like to jump into such a unique melting pot.

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AUTHORNOMICS Interview with YA author Rysa Walker
originally posted: March 15, 2016

Rysa Walker grew up on a cattle ranch in the South, where she read every chance she got. On the rare occasion that she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stoplight. She is the author of the bestselling Chronos Files series. Timebound, the first book in the series, was the Young Adult and Grand Prize winner in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Rysa currently lives in North Carolina, where she is working on her next series. The first book in the series, The Delphi Effect, will be published by Skyscape in October 2016. If you see her on social media, please tell her to get back into the Writing Cave.

You’ve had a variety of jobs, from a water slide lifeguard to a professor of history and government. What first attracted you to writing fiction as a career?

I’ve always written. When I worked at the water slide, I wrote poetry and song lyrics in my head while watching the pool. One thing I enjoyed most about academia was writing articles and course modules. Timebound was written while I was still teaching college. Writing fiction was always my dream job, but I didn’t think it was feasible as a career for a very long time. And I may have been correct on that front. There are a lot more people making a living as authors today than even ten years ago, so maybe it’s a good thing I waited.

Your first novel was self-published before you signed with Amazon’s Skyscape Publishing. How was your experience with self-publishing different from working with a publisher?

For one thing, Skyscape is much better at marketing than I am. Timebound got a phenomenal start thanks to placement as a Kindle First selection, back when the program first started. I really do think that’s the best launch a new series can get. I’ve also had the advantage of a wonderful team of editors and great cover design. When I first self-published Time’s Twisted Arrow (the original title), it was just me and a volunteer editor. I created the cover, and my skills in that regard were pretty abysmal back then.

Another thing I really love about being with Skyscape is that they have been great about letting me self-publish shorter works. There are three novellas in The CHRONOS Files, and doing these on my own allowed me to keep one foot in the indie world.

In your series The CHRONOS Files, historians travel to the past to witness history right before their eyes. Do you feel like your PhD in Political Science with a focus on Political History plays a large role in your writing?

The history side of the degree definitely played a major role in The CHRONOS Files. One motivation I had for writing Timebound in the beginning was that so many of the students who arrived in my history classes were already convinced that history was a major snooze.

The key reason? Their teachers--probably in an effort to prepare them for an end-of-grade test--left out all of the bits that make history fun. Yeah, you have to learn about the presidents and the wars and the economic crises and all of that...but you also need to learn the other parts that make those eras come alive. For a lot of students, that means bringing in the things they’re interested in--the music and other forms of popular entertainment, the fashion, the scandals, and even the serial killers.

Lecture about a guy who murdered as many as 200 women in a hotel that was as bizarre as anything in fiction, and suddenly the kids who were half asleep are listening again. Tell them that a woman who was a blackmailer and the first female stock broker in the US also ran for President in 1873 and you can teach a lot of other stuff about the Gilded Age before they doze back off. But all of the good parts were being left out in middle and high school, and sadly, many of them still are.

The political science side will come into play a bit more in the next series...but only peripherally.

Blending science fiction with history makes for an engaging read. How did you come up with the idea of mixing the two?

I’ve been a science fiction fan since I saw my first episode of Star Trek and I taught history. Add those two together, and you’re going to get time travel pretty much every time.

How much of your time is spent researching? What is your overall process for researching and eventually writing the story?

I research general ideas before beginning a book, but much of it happens as I’m writing and looking for more details to make the characters and the locations more vivid. I like to research just before I write a historical scene because the location feels more real to me, especially if there are pictures or videos that can help set the mood in my mind. And then I can walk through the scene as I write it.

The bad part about that process is that it can contribute to “squirrel brain.” I set out to see if a slang word would have been used by Victoria Woodhull in 1873 and end up clicking on a link about the spiritualist craze in that era, and then I’m looking at the Fox Sisters and Harry Houdini and soon I’m five decades away from what I was researching in the first place. But those journeys can also lead to some interesting connections, so I allow the internet to lead me down the rabbit hole sometimes.

Your first book in the CHRONOS File series, Timebound, won both the Young Adult and Grand Prize in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Congratulations! How did this achievement impact you and your future writing? Your career?

It’s not an exaggeration to say it made my career. Time’s Twisted Arrow was doing okay for a debut self-published book, but with a demanding full-time job, I didn’t have the time to market it the way I needed to, or the time to write a sequel. (It took about five years to write the first book.) The grand prize was almost exactly what I made in a year of teaching. That gave me the confidence (and the money!) to quit my day job and focus solely on writing the sequels. It also gave me the wonderful team that I have at Skyscape. It was an incredible contest and I met some wonderful people, both on the boards as we nervously awaited the cuts at each stage, and at the ceremony in Seattle when I met the other finalists, who also won contracts and an advance with various Amazon Publishing imprints.

What made you decide to write for a younger audience? What are some of the challenges you have faced in writing for YA readers?

I have a teenager as my protagonist, so the series is YA. But I don’t write for a younger audience. I tried to, at first. Kate, the heroine in The CHRONOS Files, was initially going to be younger, but she pretty quickly informed me that she was nearly 17 and that I was writing her all wrong. She was right. If I’d stuck with the plan, I’d have ended up “writing down” in some sense, trying to shape my ideas for the average 12-15 year old. And it just wasn’t the story I had in my head.

I do have readers that are teens (even some tweens), but most of my readers are actually adults who enjoy YA. I was a little surprised at that fact initially, although I really don’t know why. I enjoy YA fiction and I wrote the books that I wanted to read. The teen years and early adulthood are the best canvas for the type of story I like--one where the protagonist faces changes and growth and big decisions.

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