Latinx Voices: Interview with Gabriela Martins, author of LIKE A LOVE SONG

Hi and welcome to the first interview of the revamped Chai and Chapters!

I’m so excited to be talking to Gabriela Martins, author of the upcoming YA Romace LIKE A LOVE SONG (out in 2021!) as part of Latinx Heritage Month.

I’ve been so looking forward to LIKE A LOVE SONG ever since the deal announcement came out in Publisher’s Weekly. I mean, hello, Latina pop star and fake dating trope—what’s not to love?

Here’s the deal announcement so you know what I’m talking about.

You can add it on Goodreads here.

Gabriela very kindly and enthusiastically agreed to this interview and it was so much fun (as you will find out when you read on), and honestly, this book should be high on your 2021 radar if it isn’t already.

Ahhh, Gabriela, welcome to Chai and Chapters. I’m thrilled to have you here before you’re swept up by interviews once LIKE A LOVE SONG is out, because I know that it’s going to be phenomenal. Tell us something about LIKE A LOVE SONG that’s not there in the summary.

First of all, thank you so much for reaching out. I’m honored to be featured in Chai And Chapters!

The one bed trope! LOL. Other than that, there’s a whole lot of friendship and family talk. Both Nati and William are family-people in their own way, and it was important for me that they kept their priorities straight. Nati’s relationship with her best friends is also very important throughout the book. Hmmm let me see, what else! All of the main characters, with the exception of Nati, are queer. William’s bisexual, and so is Brenda, and Padma is gay. Hm hm hm hm! There’s a trip! Some random Brazilian history facts! I love trivia so there’s some randomness in there as well.

Gahh, is it possible to love your book anymore? Because I do. What was the origin story for LIKE A LOVE SONG?

The origin is a whole lot of depression. I’m saying this while smiling, because it sounds absurd, but it really is how this story got started. I’d always written very dark books, but when I started this story, I was in a very dark moment of my life, and nothing I started gained traction.

Then I decided to try writing a romcom. I’d always read them, but had never written one before… and it was so, so good for me. I fell in love with the characters immediately. While they handled their fair share of serious problems, the upbeat tone of a romantic comedy gave me the space I needed to start reevaluating my own problems. I looked forward to sitting down and writing this story every day. It was a major source of light and happiness for me, so I hope it is for you too!

This is so important. I don’t think romantic comedies get their due in litverse, but they have also kept me alive during this whole pandemic. What was the best thing about writing LIKE A LOVE SONG?

How much I fell in love with writing romcoms! I loved the rhythm of the beats, the fast-paced dialogue-heavy moments, the awkward and the swoony! I can’t see myself not writing romcoms anymore. 

Already looking forward to the rest! And the hardest thing about writing LIKE A LOVE SONG?

There is a lot of discussion of not feeling welcome/part of your own community in the book. Nati immigrated from Brazil to the United States when she was a young child, and therefore she has very conflicting feelings about her Latinidade. I share a lot of these feelings, but on a different scale. I’m not from the diaspora—I was born and raised in Brazil. But there are tons of aspects of claiming Latinidade, either online or when traveling, that feel odd to me. That aspect was both nerve-wrecking and empowering to write about.

As a South Asian blogger and aspiring writer, I feel this. There’s so much attached to how much of your identity is valid based on how well you perform your identity as per gatekeeping standards. Tell me about your favorite tropes. How many of them do we get to see in LIKE A LOVE SONG?

Fake dating is my absolute fave, and it’s definitely the biggest trope in the book! As I mentioned above, there’s also the one bed trope that I adore! There are a few tropes that I subvert a bit, so I’ll leave those a secret for now. Some of the tropes that I love but aren’t featured in this book: rivals to lovers, childhood best friends to enemies to lovers, reluctant chosen one, and found family.

The one bed trope both mortifies me and thrills me, lmao. Tell us the top 5 books by Latinx authors on your list right now.

Have you all read BLAZEWRATH GAMES by Amparo Ortiz yet? I’m obsessed! I’m super into FURIA by Yamile Saied Méndez. I couldn’t not mention Lucas Rocha’s WHERE WE GO FROM HERE, Laura Pohl’s scifi duology THE LAST 8 and THE FIRST 7. To finish my recs, one of my all-time faves: PERLA by Carolina de Robertis. 

Those are some fantastic recommendations. On that note, what are you currently reading?

Alright, so I’m a big language nerd. I’m currently reading SHORT STORIES IN NORWEGIAN by Olly Richards. LOL Before that, I reread SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Harari, which reinforces that I am, in fact, a big nerd. As soon as I finish the book of short stories, though, I’m starting UNDEAD GIRL GANG by Lily Anderson. Super excited about it!

We are all nerds here, so you’re in the right community, haha. What do you hope readers take away from reading LIKE A LOVE SONG?

You are perfect the way you are. You are accepted. You are loved. We all have your back. ❤

Those are words to live by! What’s a writing advice you swear by?

The writing advice I swear by is that no writing advice is actually good. Here in Brazil there’s a saying: if advice was any good, we’d charge for them! LOL.

There’s a lot of dos and don’ts and I personally feel that they all can be subverted, especially if you’re writing from the Global South, where stories can be told in different beats and still greatly succeed. While I plan my beats carefully, I don’t fully subscribe to the idea that a story has to be told a certain way for it to work.

Also, the way I write may not be the best for you, and the way I write one story is not even similar to the way I write my next. I’ve completed almost twenty manuscripts by now, and they were all written differently. Some very fast, some slowly, some with ideas that spurred overnight, some that had been taking form in my subconscious for a decade. It’s different every time, for everyone.

If I absolutely do need to give advice, my advice is this: be creative with your process. Be open to change.

Being open to change is something we could all use in all walks of life ❤ To top off this interview, if wishes were horses, what’s your biggest writing dream?

I have a ton! Right now, what I would love the most would be to know that my book made a difference in someone’s life, and brought them a little light. :’)

This has been an absolute pleasure and honor, Gabriela!

_______________________________

About Gabriela Martins:

GABRIELA MARTINS is a Brazilian kidlit author and linguist. Her stories feature Brazilian characters finding themselves and love. She was a high school teacher and has also worked as a TED Ed-Club facilitator, where she helped teens develop their own talks in TED format to present. She edited and self-published a pro-bono LGBTQ+ anthology (KEEP FAITH) with all funds going to queer people in need. Gabriela also used to host monthly webinars with themes ranging from Linguistics in Fiction to Self-Care for Writers. She was recently selected as a Pitch Wars mentor for 2020. Her debut, LIKE A LOVE SONG (Underlined/PRH) comes out in summer 2021. Find her on Twitter at @gabhimartins, on Instagram at @gabhi, and visit her website at gabrielawrites.com.

Hope you enjoyed this! See you all soon.

Art of The Craft: from Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Art of The Craft is an interview series featuring published authors and their lets-shake-it-up books. Yo.
 
You know, sometimes you read that little, quirky book that in spite of it’s size shakes things up a bit? That happened to me with The Sky Always Hears Me And The Hills Don’t Mind. Unlike most up and coming YAs, nothing earth-shattering happened in the book and yet it had a little something to shake it up for me. 
And you know what? I loved it.
And I’m super-psyched I got the opportunity to probe into what writing the book was for Kirstin Cronn-Mills, who, as you can tell, is the superpsychnessinducing author.
  
Morgan is one of the spunkiest heroines I’ve read this year. When
did you first meet her?
 
I met her in 2002, but in some ways I’ve known her all along, because she’s got some of my traits.  Her word-nerd viewpoints? Those are all me, and I received the “you walking dictionary” note, just like Morgan
did (I still have it somewhere, because it was so hurtful at the time).  As I said before, the incident that created this book was sparked by my classmate’s confession, so I also had to put myself in my shoes/the real Tessa’s shoes to write some of those scenes. However, Morgan’s got a HECK of a lot more sass than I had as a
teenager.  I love that about her! : )
 
Hell, yeah, Morgan’s super-sassy and super-awesome. The voice is pitched perfect, which is not always that easy. Did Morgan’s voice stay the same from your first draft till the finished draft..or did it change with the progression of the book?
 
Morgan’s voice actually softened a great deal.  When I first wrote her, she was spiteful, almost hateful.  I mellowed her out when someone I respect read the book and said “Wow, I don’t like her.” That was the first time anyone had said it, so I paid attention.  When I took another look at her, I thought, “wow, I don’t like her either!” So she got toned down–less mouthy, more compassionate, less hostile and closed.  Once SKY was published, I had another early-draft reader tell me, “You know, I didn’t like that original Morgan.  I like this
one much better.”  I was relieved to hear it.
 
Next to Morgan, I think the setting’s one of the best things about the book. Beyond the hills and the sky, Morgan clearly hates Central Nebraska, while Rob who’s been to places, returns to it..whose story do you share?
 
I am with Rob–I love the place.  LOVE.  IT.  I’ve lived in Minnesota for 18 years now (with some living in Iowa on the side), and I miss Central (and Eastern) Nowhere almost every day.  It’s much more open and spacious there–more space between towns and people, more open space with nothing in it.  Even though Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa are all Midwestern states, they’re all *very* different from each other, and I am a Nebraskan at heart.  Hands down.  I’d live there again if I could, and may when I retire.  My husband is a Minnesotan, our jobs are here, plus we’re raising a son in this wonderful state,
so it’s not in the cards.  But someday . . .
 
Ha, I love how Morgan keeps calling it Central Nowhere throughout the book. Also, SKY is written in minimalistic style. Whose personal style is it – Morgan’s or yours?
 
That style belongs to both of us.  When I’m casual (talking with you, for instance), I’m rather wordy, but my formal writing tends to be tight.  I think it comes (in part) from being a poet as well as a fiction writer.  Poets are concerned with the economy of language, and that idea seems to follow into my prose.  I also think it has to do with mood.  When Morgan’s more casual or weird, or even angry, she can be a little wordy.  When she really wants to get her point across, she gets very minimal.  Same with me.
 
The fact that you’re a poet writing prose makes your style original. On the other hand, Morgan seems to write fortunes all the time, all over the place. I thought it was very unique. Where did the idea come from?
 
That one came straight from the ether, which is to say–I have no idea!  I consider that particular character trait a gift from the Universe, because I didn’t plan it.  All of a sudden, she was just doing it, and it was perfect.  I looked back at it and thought, “where the heck did that come from?”  But you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth (a very American Midwestern expression), and it worked, so I kept it.  I think it fits her–in an alcoholic family, you keep a lot of secrets, and keep a lot of anger inside, so the “sideways” communication of leaving fortunes around allowed her to communicate some of her feelings.
 
You mentioned in your guest post that a particular high school mate’s confession sparked off SKY. How much of your personal experiences do you take back to your fiction?
 
I think every writer takes parts of his/her life into their work. Because SKY is set in my home town, I had to be careful that it wasn’t *my* story, but it wasn’t because I had never had an encounter with the real Tessa (though, as it turns out, she wishes we would have). But there are definite things in the novel that came from my life. Elsie is much like my real-life grandmother, who decided against becoming a concert pianist so she could raise a family.  My grandmother was also *my* grandmother–we are/were birthday twins, and I thought she belonged only to me.  : )  She always claimed my first words were “read a book!” (said to her, of course), so somewhere in the Universe, I think she’s cheering me on.  Maybe she’s the one who
sent me Morgan’s fortune-writing idea!
 
‘Read a book’ – how cool is that! Is this the first novel you’ve written? What’s coming next?
 
It’s rather surprising, because SKY truly is my first novel–it doesn’t always happen that a first book gets sold.  I have another book on submission–an Elvis-loving guy who wants to be a radio DJ–and I just finished a draft of a book that’s packed with ghosts. The next one after that is four boys, a laundromat, graffiti, and general random destruction.  There are two other ideas floating around out there, but they’re more nebulous.  I’ve always got ideas!
 
You’re keeping me on edge here. Those books sound oh-my-god-i-want-Elvis-guy-and-graffiti-destruction-and-ghosts, yeah. On that note, what are some of your favourite YA novels?
 
That’s a hard question–like really hard.  I loved BEFORE I DIE by Jenny Downham (an import from England), I loved STRUTS AND FRETS by Jon Skovron, I loved BEAUTIFUL, by Amy Reed, all for different reasons.  At the moment, I’m listening to WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON, by John Green and David Levithan–and an audio book is an *amazingly* different experience than reading a book.  Since WILL GRAYSON is a dual-narrator novels, there are 2 readers, and each reader adds an incredible depth to the story.  And that one is hilarious, so I look a little crazy when I’m out walking and laughing to myself.  I recommend audio books to *everyone*–they create such a different experience of the book.
 
(I think you might also be my book-twin). How has being a published author changed you as a writer?
 
Hmm . . . great question.  I’ve written lots of academic stuff in my life, and that was perfect prep for writing a novel, because I already knew how to write on deadline, edit, and follow editor directions.  I suppose, more than anything, I enjoy writing more now.  It was great fun in the beginning, but it’s even better now, because I know folks are enjoying it (I am very honored by the compliments I’ve been paid about SKY).  I am happy happy happy that there may be more published books after SKY.  I am happy someone pays me to do a task I adore.  I would do it for free (sssh!  don’t tell anyone!).
 
Rob’s cute ass. Which actor/model do you think can carry that off?
 
Yeesh . . . hmm . . . the first person who comes to mind is Taylor Lautner, but just because he has a great bod.  Alex Pettyfar is all right–maybe too bad boy–and Tom Welling and Chris Pine are too old, but they have the right vibe.  This is a tough question!!  I think I’d pick Tom Welling, even though he’s 33.  He’s got the right look and the right “homegrown” feel about him.    Who do *you* like?  You tell me!  Or did you have someone else in mind?
 
(OMG, I don’t know. I think I’d have to look at their asses particularly to decide..hot men make it hard).
 
Great talking to you, Kirstin (and getting to know your story secrets). Thanks for being here 🙂
 
Find Kirstin here or here.
And in case you missed her book, take a good look here:
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
(Doncha just love the way it looks?)

TENNER OF THE MONTH: Kristina McBride

If you’ve been going around blogosphere (which damn right you are, I bet!) you’ll know that The Tension of Opposites is all the shiz.
It’s YA.
It’s Edgy.
And it’s a debut novel.
 
 
And in case you’re in the dark about it, here’s how it goes:
Two years ago Noelle disappeared. Two long years of no leads, no word, no body. Since the abduction, Tessa, her best friend, has lived in a state of suspended animation. She has some friends, but keeps them distant. Some interests, but she won’t allow herself to become passionate about them. And guys? She can’t get close—she knows what it is like to really lose someone she cared for.
 
And then, one day, the telephone rings. Noelle is alive. And maybe, just maybe, Tess can start to live again, too.
 
A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath a kidnapping can have on the victim, and on the people she left behind.
 
And who joins the list of Must-Watch-Out debut YA novelists?
 
Yep, that’s Kristina McBride all right.
And she’s a former high-school English teacher and yearbook advisor, who wrote The Tension of Opposites in response to the safe return of a child who was kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend’s house. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two young children. This is her first novel. 
 
And since I LOVE interviewing authors (especially debut authors), I snapped her up too (sheesh, how does that sound?). Lol. Here’s the lets-get-a-bit-formal chatter we had:
 
A one line memoir for you would be . . .  
Shy book lover turned high school English teacher turned YA author. (YAY!)
 
What is the most amazing thing about writing YA?  
The characters! I love teen characters – the ups and downs of their friendships and relationships, the opportunity for personal growth, and the potential for tension in every their day lives.
 
You had a brush with kidnapping as a kid. Did it play into writing The Tension of Opposites? 
I think my almost kidnapping during a burglary-gone-wrong when I was a young child colored my view of life in general. Hearing that specific story my entire life definitely helped pique my interest when I first heard about Shawn Hornbeck, a young man who was kidnapped at age 11 and returned to his family at age 15. His story kick started the formation of the plot for The Tension of Opposites.
 
What has been the toughest challenge about writing TENSION?  
Revision. I wrote the first draft in four or five months. After landing my agent, I spent eleven months revising with her direction. Six months in, I deleted all but five chapters and started over. It was painful, but worth every moment of the challenge to get the story right.
 
The cover is so fierce and attractive. Did your input go into it?  
Thank you! I feel so fortunate to be working with the very talented people at Egmont USA. I had no idea what they would do as far as the cover, and vividly remember the moment I opened the file and saw the artwork for the first time. It was a surreal moment, a beautifully surreal moment. I loved it! Egmont made most of the minor changes on their own, but they were very open to suggestions. One of the most major things that changed was the tint on the girl’s face. Initially, she was colored with a greenish sepia tint, giving her a darker, more ominous quality. My agent and I wanted to see a lighter, more rosy tone, and when the change was made, it stuck.
 
You own a pretty cool blog. How important is it for a writer to have a strong web presence? 
How fun that you’ve stopped by! I think a strong web presence is essential for a debut author. Most authors have a website and a presence on Goodreads, MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter. I believe this is the best way to reach bloggers (who have been overwhelmingly supportive in my case!) as well as potential readers. It’s also been wonderful to join some cool author groups, like the Class of 2K10 and The Tenners who are there when I need support or to have questions answered.
  
Rapid fire —
    Write what you know VS Write what you want to know?  Write what you know.
    Outline or Wing It?  Wing it – then outline it – then wing it some more.
    Fictional character you’d love to be?  Margo Roth Spiegelman from John Green’s Paper Towns – not sure    if I’d rather be her or be her best friend . . .
    Fictional character you’d love to date?  Wes from Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. LOVE him!
    Biggest writing dream?  To win a cool award or hit a bestseller list would be awesome, but really, I just want people to like and connect with my book.
 
Quick tip on how to get published. (Spill us a secret or two :P)  
Don’t give up. Ever. Keep writing. Research your genre and how to land an agent. Query tirelessly. And don’t allow rejection to get you down. (At least not for too long.) Chocolate is essential for those tough moments.
 
And the easiest (or toughest) –why did you choose to be a writer? 
It wasn’t so much a choice as an insatiable need to put words on paper. Even if no one would ever read them. It’s just part of who I am.
 
(Best answer ever.Don’t we all just know the ‘insatiable need’?)
 
Tenner of the Month? Oh yeah, she’s it. The Tension of Opposites released on the 25th of May and is available HERE and wherever books are available (this I’m guessing, since it’s not exactly possible for me to go around confirming with every darn bookstore, library yada yada).
Also, the trailer..is just darn fantastic. Feast your eyes.
 
 
                                                      
 
 
PS. I realised just a little too late how small this blog is. Sigh.

Interview with Lauren Bjorkman + A Writerly Contest

I have a super-fun guest with me today – LAUREN BJORKMAN
Lauren and I met on Facebook -she liked my status messages and I liked her book- and she’s is so much fun to talk to! Get a glimpse of her awesomeness as she talks about her debut book, people watching, agents, fictional crushes and much more.
Your book is about..
My Invented Life is a comedy of errors with mistaken identities, ambiguous sexuality, skate Gods, stage geeks and true love. It’s about two sisters who adore and sabotage each other in ways that only sisters can. It’s also a romp through the theater geek crowd and a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
What about you?
I grew up on a boat and sailed all over the world with my family. When I became an adult (more or less), I kept on traveling by less watery means. Because I’m afraid of the ocean. Doing things outdoors in cities and in nature makes me happy. I love people watching.
What sparked the idea for My Invented Life
It took me some time to figure out what to write. First, I tried travel stories with a humorous twist. Think Pico Iyer or Tim Cahill. Later, I wrote a novel set in a middle school based on my personal experiences of re-entering American life after living overseas. Which gave me a taste for writing fiction. I found out that semi-autobiography, though, hampers my creativity.
Events around my high school reunion inspired me include LGBT characters in my novel. The drama of coming out to one’s classmates, even years later, intrigued me. I had to write about it!
After I finished My Invented Life, I suddenly had an insight into why the subject called to me. During my childhood and teen-aged years, my dad had asked me to keep a family secret, a secret about how my mom died. Which made me feel like an outcast—someone who is socially unacceptable. I could identify with teens that kept their sexual orientation a secret.
Also, during the writing process, I told many of my friends and acquaintances about my project. In return, many shared their secrets with me. Some were actually bi, or had a lesbian phase in college, or had a crush on another woman once or twice. This made me want to write about the in-between sexual orientations, and greatly influenced the direction my story took.
How much of yourself do you see in your characters?
I based Roz very loosely on a young woman I noticed while people watching. She gave me the idea for an energetic, slightly clueless, center-of-attention-craving character. While I’m kind of quiet and careful with other people’s feelings. Except for being the annoying little sister! Of course, I share some things with all my characters—a sense of humor, and a way of looking at the world.
I think the cover’s pretty cool. Did your input go into it?
My editor asked me for ideas, so I showed her covers I liked, and we brain stormed concepts. In the end, an in-house designer at Holt came up with the cover, though. Luckily, I like it. One blogger commented that it looks like a photo of two friends in a booth at a fair. I agree.
How did you bag your agent?
First, I researched how to query an agent, and then sent five letters to start. One agent bit, and requested a full manuscript. After reading my novel, he passed, but gave me excellent editorial feedback. I wrote him back, and he agreed to look at it again if I revised. These revisions took me almost a year! When he turned me down a second time, it broke my heart. After I recovered, I started on another project. My instructor at a novel writing workshop liked the piece I’d submitted, and referred me to his agent. The rest is history.
Give us a glimpse into the glamorous life of a published author.
LOL! I won’t be buying a mansion or hiring a driver any time soon. Actually, though, there are some glamorous parts. Like getting fan mail. And the fact that my dad keeps telling me how proud he is. I don’t mind being on the radio and in the newspaper J. And when a fan sent me a My Invented Life book trailer he’d made, I had a heart attack (the good kind). What an amazing gift.
Outline or wing it?
Outlining ruins the experience for me and wrecks my imagination. I do character sketches and loose plotting in advance, so that I have an idea where the story is going. During the first draft stage, I jot down ideas that come to me—scenes or bits of dialog—on scraps of paper or at the end of the mss if I’m on the computer. I refer to these if I get stuck. I also use them while revising.
This method means writing scenes that get cut later, or extra characters that have to be telescoped into a single character. It also requires a ton of revision. I spend about a quarter of my time writing the first draft, and the rest revising.
Sagely advice for writers..
Write what you care about. If you choose your subject with only publication in mind, your heart won’t be in it.
Have fun with revision—add in interesting character traits, spice up your dialog, add atmosphere to your scenes, and sneak in extra jokes. Revision isn’t all about commas and grammar.
And if you truly love writing, never stop!
Okay, 5 random things about yourself in the next 5 seconds.
I prefer cheap and fun jewelry. I worry about losing expensive things.
I collect nesting dolls. My favorite is a Japanese Daruma
I love popcorn, but my husband doesn’t like how it makes the house smell.
I hate lumps in my food.
I prefer to go around barefoot.
What can we expect from you next?
My next YA novel, Miss Fortune Cookie, is set in SF Chinatown. It’s about an unstable friendship triangle, love-at-first sight, teen pregnancy, and an advice blog gone awry. It will come out in 2011.
Finally, if you could date any fictional character, who would it be and why?
My first literary crushes were on Finny in A Separate Peace and Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. Recently, I’ve fallen for Zack in Waiting to Score, Sammy in Struts and Frets, and Peeta in The Hunger Games. I go for the sensitive, usually talkative, and slightly geeky guys. Vampire boyfriends are out of the question! I enjoy life too much.
Oh man, you had me in splits. Thank you so much for being here, Lauren 🙂
Thanks for having me, Bidisha!
Now, for the Writerly Contest. Actually, anyone, anywhere can join in provided you can write (or, erm, well, lets pretend that you can). Lauren’s giving away a writing journal WITH a My Invented Life book jacket as its cover. How cool is that?
Like I said, anyone, anywhere is eligible to enter. All you have to do is tell me why you want the writing journal in the comments section below (and leave an email link alongside). Go on!
And more importantly, My Invented Life is in stores now!
CONTEST CLOSED

CHATTERBUZZ: Writing Advice from Trisha Ashley

 Whether or not you read adult chick lit, you must have heard about Trisha Ashley, one of Britain’s most popular writer of romantic comedies. And they are fantastic books, trust me, even if they aren’t YA. I especially loved Sowing Secrets, which was absolutely delicious!
 
I’m honoured to have Trisha on my blog today. She’s here to enlighten us with some writing advice. Trust her to know — she’s almost a veteran in the industry!
Trisha Ashley is the author of thirteen novels including A Winter’s Tale, which was a Times bestseller and also shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan award for romantic comedy.  Her latest book is Wedding Tiers and her next, Chocolate Wishes, comes out in March this year.  Visit her website where you can email her, join her newsletter group or leave a message in her guestbook.
The three Golden Tips for aspiring/upcoming writers:
1)  This may sound very obvious, but it has to be said: writers write, it is in the nature of the job description.  You write every day and feel guilty and bereft if you have finished a novel and not started on the next.  So, don’t just think about it, do it. Get in the writing habit, if only for ten or fifteen minutes a day and then build on that.  However busy you are, if you really want to write you will find the time.
2)  You will know your main characters are three dimensional when they start having conversations with each other in your head.  This is usually just as you are trying to go to sleep and you must switch the light on and immediately write down what they are saying, because you will have entirely forgotten it by morning.
3)  Read a lot of recently published novels in the genre you are aiming at yourself.  Consider what length they are and what the readers of that kind of book expect from a novel.
4) Read Stephen King’s book called On Writing, and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones for inspiration.
 
What inspires you to keep writing?   
I’d like to be flip here and say my bank overdraft!  However, I write because there is always something I am burning to write about, new ideas to explore.
What’s the easiest thing about writing and what’s the hardest?  
The hardest part has to be when you are just setting out with a novel, before it gains its own momentum – it feels a bit like pushing a rock up a mountain with your nose.  Then suddenly it’s rolling down the other side and you’re running to keep up with it!

 

Five random things about yourself…

 

1) I read cookbooks when I’m dieting.
2) I am City & Guilds qualified to professional level to make stained glass windows.
3) My dancing resembles a puppet in urgent need of restringing.
4) My favourite flower is the rose.
5) I was first published at the age of eleven, with a poem in my local newspaper.
Thanks so much for being here, Trisha. We wish you many more bestsellers to come and a great writing life (which I’m certain you already have. Hey, writers do have the best lives, don’t they?).
Go check out her books, guys 😀 

CHATTERBUZZ: *Interview + Angela Morrison Month*

CHATTERBUZZ features interviews, writer tips and the usual chatter from writers far and wide, published, upcoming and soon-to-be-published (well, I’m getting there!)

I have some great news.

*Drumrolls*

All right, so this month gets the official title of Angela Morrison Month, ‘cos – you guessed it – it’s gonna feature an interview, blog tour and a guest post..all from the immensely talented ANGELA MORRISON, author of TAKEN BY STORM (hardcover out now, paperback coming out in Feb ’10) and SING ME TO SLEEP (coming in March ’10).
You can tell I’m super-excited to have her here. First up, the interview! Hold your breath (on second thought, don’t -I don’t want you guys turning blue)..here goes.

Time you reveal your identity *big grin*…

No, no, please don’t make me. . . . I’m a mother of four–three boys and my perfect daughter. My oldest son is married and he and his wife have the cutest baby boy in the world. Being a grandma is great. You get all the fun and no poopy diapers. I was a full-time hands on cookie baking super mom for about two decades. When my youngest son, went to school, I did, too. I enrolled in Vermont College’s fabulous Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults low residency program.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I realized I needed to qualify myself. Learn from professionals. I tell high school kids I speak to that the arts are the same as any endeavor. You can’t expect to be a professional without some darn good coaching. At Vermont College, you attend two residencies a year and then work with a mentor via mail or email–like you would an editor. I learned from some of the best–Ron Koertge, Sharon Darrow, Louise Hawes, and Susan Fletcher. They set me on my way. It took three and half years of rejection and revision post graduation to land a contract, but it finally happened! And now I get to share my books with readers all over the world. It’s pretty fantastic.

Bee tells me that a lot of you readers are up and coming writers. Don’t give up. Keep writing and revising. Qualify yourself every way you can. When opportunities come up, don’t be afraid to push through the door and grow from them.

 

The cover of SING ME TO SLEEP looks so tempting, what’s it got inside to tempt us to read? (This is for cynical readers, I’m gonna read it anyway ‘cos I’m so in love with with your writing already)
SING is Beth’s journey from the ugly, harassed girl at school–the Beast–to someone who is truly beautiful. Her physical transformation takes place early on. All of the sudden she’s hot, and she doesn’t trust herself or anyone. But by the end of the novel, what she has learned through love and pain transforms her. She is truly stunning–inside. A beauty anyone would love.

So SING ME was inspired by The Phantom Of The Opera?
You are writers . . . so I’ll let you in a huge secret. Editors, agents, publishers, marketers are always looking for a high concept (ie. commercial) hook that they can hang a story on to sell it. I’m not that great at thinking like that.

SING was inspired by a dear friend of my daughter’s who sang with the Amabile Young Men’s Ensemble. My editor suggested the Phantom hook. I rebelled at first, but as I wrote the novel, it worked perfectly. My editor is a genius. One of my favorite scenes is the Phantom spoof Beth dreams.

Music plays an important part of Beth’s life in SING ME..How important is music to your writing?
I work best in silence, but I listen to music to get myself to the emotional place I need to be to create. I play the piano and sing in the choir at church. Music helps center me so I can tune in to what is important. And it gives me ideas for ways to express my characters emotions.

I have a playlist of the most romantic songs in the world that I listened to when I wrote STORM. No matter how far away from the manuscript I’ve been, listening to those songs takes me right back to Michael and Leesie. Maybe that’s why I feel compelled to keep writing about them.

I did the same thing with SING, but added a lot of other songs of all types because I had to write lyrics. I actually dissected many, many songs–wrote out their skeletons on a big piece of paper–and then filled it up with my words. Remember writing haiku or sonnets? It was kind of like that.

TAKEN BY STORM spoke about the Mormon faith –did you set out specifically to become a Mormon writer or did it just happen along the way?
I set out specifically NOT to become a Mormon writer. I discovered that was impossible. It was kind of like my French. I know enough to say basic things, but it sounds dumb. What I wrote sanitized of my faith was dumb.

Jane Yolen, in TAKE JOY, says that if we leave our inner truth out of our stories, they are rags on a stick masquerading as story. That is so true. As I followed Michael to my home town where I so cruelly stranded him and introduced him to the only Mormon girl in town, I realized I had to involve my faith in a very open and realistic way. I had no idea how to do it without making it awful–boring, preachy or unintelligible. I had lots of helpful critiques at Vermont College, great mentors to guide me, and even ended up writing my critical thesis on how a person of faith can create great fiction. I studied Katherine Paterson. She says to let our faith be the “bones and sinews” of our work–not the outer dress. STORM has my faith written all over the outside. SING uses it as the bones and sinews.

 

Speaking of STORM, when are we getting more of Leesie and Michael?
You can read the first chapter of UNBROKEN CONNECTION, book two in Leesie and Michael’s saga, on my website. It’s in my editor’s hands now. I have no idea if Razorbill will buy it or not. I’m going crazy waiting for news. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

Did you have an ‘Eureka’ moment or did you always know you were gonna become a writer?
As soon as I learned how to write in first grade, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

What inspires you to keep writing?
I’m incredibly grumpy when I don’t write. I’m blissful when I do. I don’t want to spend the rest of life miserable, so I write. And I have been blessed with loads of novel ideas that I want to develop. More than I can ever complete. Give me ten years, and maybe I’ll be ready to slow down. Right now it’s full steam ahead.

Why YA? (You have grown out of teendom, haven’t you?)
Actually, I don’t think I have grown out of teendom. My teen years are still so vivid to me. Especially the painful stuff. And I was a scribbler even then, so I have journals full of stuff that I can’t bear look at. When I began writing full-time, my house was full of teen age boys. That’s what came out of my pen.

My historical work is borderline adult fiction, but what will keep me forever technically YA is my fascination with the coming of age journey. That’s a deep well that I can explore artistically forever. And if you want to be serious and literary, coming of age is the true definition of young adult literature–even if it’s coming of age with vampires.

‘Write what you know’ or ‘Write what you want to know’– which school do you belong to?
“Write what you know” gave me writer’s block for years. When I finally did it, I learned what that truly means. When I write a novel, everything I’ve ever done, seen, learned, known, imagined, read, watched, etc., gets broken into tiny pieces and spread out all over the ground. Then I have to pick up the pieces and try to fashion them into something with a beginning, middle, and end. That entertains and has meaning. What I want to know plugs the holes. I research a lot for every project. I never know enough.

I tell writers to write what they know, they love, they are curious about, they have just learned and are excited about, what they imagine–use it all. You’ll need it.

Rewind to teenhood. If there was a classification of high school stereotypes, which would you fall into?
Believe it or not, I started out a cheerleader. My big sister was Varsity. I was Junior Varsity. This was back before cheering had become a sport in and of itself. Dark ages. You did routines and yelled the whole game. I am very loud and loved to dance. So I was good at that. What I stunk at was the social expectations of being a cheerleader. My sister managed to be a good Mormon girl and popular. I think I alienated the entire football team. I didn’t get voted in again. My sister’s coat tails–or glorious long hair–weren’t long enough for that.

So I became the artistic nerd. Miss Writer. A loner. Very much like Leesie. Sat on the stage and read books. Escaped to wonderful writing workshops across the state where I fell in love with beautiful boys who were writers, too. Wrote long, long, letters to them. Haunted the mailbox. Ah, the internet would have changed my life back then! See, I still haven’t outgrown it. That’s why I write YA.

Time for five random things about yourself in the next 5 seconds.
Wow. Times up. I don’t do anything in five seconds. I guess that’s one. I’m left handed. I wear pink ballet shoes instead of slippers. I could eat Mexican food every day of my life. Arizona style Mexican food. I’ve been in coal mines in three countries. Phew. Five.

If you had a time machine that you could use only once, where would you go– past or future?
To write my historical novel, MY ONLY LOVE (work in progress), I invested so much time and capital in trying to recreate the lives of my ancestors who emigrated to North America from Scotland in the early nineteenth century. I’d love to go back there with a video camera so I could get it all right!

Thank you so much for being here, Angela! We wish you our best in your writerly journey and I, for one, can’t wait to see UNBROKEN CONNECTIONS out soon 🙂

Keep a watch out for the guest post and blog tour. I’ll be posting updates on the sidebar.
And, oh yes, the SING ME TO SLEEP review’s up next!

CHATTERBUZZ: Welcomes…*LAUREN MECHLING*

STOP RIGHT HERE.

Welcome to the very first edition of CHATTERBUZZ which will feature interviews, writer tips and the usual chatter from writers far and wide, published, upcoming and soon-to-be-published.
Today, I’m really excited to present the fab…

*Drumroll*

….*LAUREN MECHLING*

She co-wrote the 10th Grade Social Climber Series and is the author of the upcoming DREAM GIRL series. DREAM LIFE comes out in January 2010.

So, hold your breath. Lets hear it straight from Lauren.

 

The Book we so HAVE to read…
“Dream Girl” is a delicious tale about a half-French girl detective who discovers that her dreams might be worth listening to. In the sequel “Dream Life,” Claire gets tapped to join a very fabulous secret society.But it’s not just clubhouse pajama parties and inexplicable traditions–thanks to her dreams she sniffs out that she and the club are both in quite a bit of trouble. It’s all very action-packed, a la James Bond, except instead of a craggy-faced villain named Demetri or Nubius, the villains come in slightly more interesting–and slippery–forms.

 

And you are…

I am a newspaper editor by day, teen fiction writer by night. Well, early morning if you want to get technical about it.

What sparked off the inspiration for Dream Girl? 
“Dream Girl” is really a love letter to New York. I imagined what it would be like if all of my favorite places–the Waldorf hotel, the tea shops in the East Village, Green-Wood Cemetery, etc–were actually important places in somebody’s daily life. I’m so jealous of Claire!
  
What has been your ‘Eureka’ moment so far?
I wrote Dream Girl when I was a full-time writer. Now that I have a day job, it’s been fascinating to discover that I can write about half as much as I was as a “full-time writer”  in a fraction of the time. It’s all about making the most of the tiny parcels of free time you do have.
Your website says that in fifth grade you whipped up a home-made pencil costume for Halloween. Was it any different in your teens?
Did I get my sexy on, you mean? Sadly, no. My 12th grade Halloween costume involved wearing an ET nightgown and elaborately teased hair.

 

 

Why write YA? You look very much like an adult.

It’s true–I’m an old lady. I like to write YA because of all the roller coastery twists and turns it allows for. The stuff I’ve written for grown-ups tends to be slower and, well, not as good. Plus, I was a more passionate reader as a teen than I am now and I like to think I’m writing for people who love books harder than any other readers. I love love my readers.

If you were marooned on an uninhabited island and had the option of taking one book along (barring your own), which would it be?
Ooh! Can I say my Kindle, which has Edith Wharton’s “Old New York,” “Alice and Wonderland” and “Vampire Academy” on it? If not, I’d say my favorite book of all time: “Quartet in Autumn” by Barbara Pym. I should warn you, it’s very weird.

 

The Golden tip for the writers. Okay, one that you feel aspiring writers should keep in mind.
As I said above, slow and steady wins the race. You don’t have to despair if you can’t write a book in a few months–however long it takes is fine. I take yoga classes, and the teachers are always talking about “my practice,” meaning their daily commitment. I’m not sure I could handle pretzeling myself for 90 minutes every day, but I do like the idea of having “a practice” if it’s writing. It centers me, to sit at my desk every morning. I’d recommend any aspiring writer try to write for ten minutes a day, just to see what it feels like to be committed to something for the long haul.

 

Five random things about yourself in the next thirty seconds.

I nervously twiddle my hair.

I always buy too much cheese at the supermarket even though I don’t really like cheese.
I like the Twilight movies a lot more than the books.
I have dreams about people that change the way I feel about them.
I believe in wearing perfume at all times.
Okay, now spill a secret. *Grins*

 

Sometimes I go to the movies by myself and don’t tell anybody.
Thanks, Lauren!
It’s been great talking to you.
We wish you lots of bestsellers and a totally fab writing career.
To know more about Dream Girl or Lauren check out her website.
And go purchase the book on Amazon
~xoxo