Featured Artist Friday: Kristen Day

Today for Featured Artist Friday we have Kristen Day, author of Forsaken: a daughters of the sea novel
Also available on nook
Check out her blog

1.  Which authors do you admire?  Why?
I admire all poets because they can capture so much meaning in so few words.  But if I had to pick one author that I admire the most it would be Sylva Plath.  I know that may seem a little odd, but I love how her mind works.  She was never the most stable or sane person, which I believe made the great writer she was.  She was able to see the world in a completely different light and I strive to do the same.  That’s why people read.  To escape into a world that is completely different than our own.  
2. What inspires you to write?
I don’t so much as get inspired to write as I have to write in an effort to not have my head explode.  Against my better judgment, my mind is constantly churning out crazy ideas, quotes, and ways of describing my surroundings.  I love words – everything about them.  Some people play with recipe ingredients, others play with fabrics or colored pencils; I play with words. 

3. What is your process for writing/completing a novel?
My process for writing can be described as a beautiful disaster.  I come up with the general idea of the subject; and then decide on the setting and characters.  I spend a lot of time on the characters before I ever type a word of the novel.  Once I give them their own personality, habits, quirks, and dreams – they tend to create the story for me.  I then regurgitate the entire story from my mind to the paper.  Next, I add descriptors, inner dialogue, and small details.  The third go round involves me and my best friend: a thesaurus.  It’s a pet peeve of mine to have the same word in a chapter too many times.  It’s just unfair to all of the other words waiting in the wings, really.  Next, I re-read the entire book and make sure I am happy with each scene.  I strive for the readers to feel a certain emotion in each scene, so if I get a different emotion than I intend – chances are they will too.  Last but never least, I send it to my editor Stacy and she adds her magic touch.
4. What is the best part of writing?
The best part of writing is when you are completely finished with a story or novel.  It’s a feeling of personal accomplishment like no other.

5. What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is being distracted by those much less important things like sleep, eating and going to the bathroom.

6. What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself through your writing? 
I’ve learned that seeing the world differently is an asset, not a liability.
7. Describe your ideal place to write.
My ideal place to write would be a cozy room, with soft string lights to give it a warm, enchanting glow.  It would have a bay window with lots of pillow so I could also see outside. 

8. How do your ideas come to you?
I’ve always been a visual person with a incredibly, vivid imagination.  I have a hard time seeing anything without thinking about how I could add my own twist, stamp of quirkiness, or crazy additions.  It’s as simple as seeing a piece of discarded wood and seeing it morph in my mind until it becomes a beautiful piece of distressed wall art with a little paint and a lot of love.  All of my ideas start as normal every day things, stories, or concepts; but when I open up my mind and let it run, they suddenly have a life of their own and I just hold on for the ride. 

9. What is your favorite thing you have written?  Why?
My favorite thing I’ve written is a poem about the color red I wrote in second grade.  That’s when I fell in love with writing.

Thank you, Kristen!

~ jenelle

Featured Artist Friday: Cassandra Giovanni

We actually have a featured artist for a “featured artist Friday” post!!! Today’s Featured Artist is Cassandra Giovanni, author of “In Between Seasons” a YA Dystopian Romance

Link to her book on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/In-Between-Seasons-between-destined/dp/1477413685/ref=la_B00819WO56_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344366649&sr=1-1
Link to her website: http://www.cgiovanni.com/

1. Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career?
My parents, my husband and my mentor, Ellen. They all support me when I am at my best and when I am ragging on myself. They provide constructive criticism that isn’t always easy to take, but it’s honest, and that is what counts.

2. What is your favorite thing you have written? Why?“Seconds seem like a life time when the life you lived is slowly drained out of you by those who care not what you felt, hoped, or dreamed. When the darkness comes it is all consuming, there is no light and there is no pain. It is the never ending loss of hope that now consumes me as I die in his arms.*”

This is a scene from my up and coming novel Walking in the Shadows. I’ve carried that passage around with me ever since I wrote it about 3 years ago. When I wrote it just knew it was it. It’s still the best thing I think I have ever written, and therefore my favorite.

3. What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself through writing?That I am a lot stronger and braver than I ever thought possible. Writing is who I am, it’s what makes me, me.

4. Describe your process for writing/completing a novel.
I write in phases. The first phase is what I call the “sporadic phase.” It’s when I get the first idea for the novel, when I start seeing the characters and building them. I write sporadically whenever inspiration comes to me. I do this for a good amount of time, until I have about 10-15 important
scenes. All of these scenes are the “core” of the novel and are highly meaningful. The next phase is the “tie it together phase”, this is where I start to tie all of the scenes together. Here I usually add in some funny scenes with humor, things that are less serious and give depth to the characters, and of course, ties everything together. Last stage, is the “editing phase”, it’s pretty much what is says it is. I read the book once over to make sure flow is good and take out major grammar/typos, next it’s
sent to the kindle for a review in a different format. Then it’s back to word to do final edits, and then off for redlining by my betas/editors.

5. What inspires you to write?
The thing that inspires me most is music, especially when I am driving. Nature is also something that gets to me, in particularly rain/thunder and lightning.

6. Is anyone else in your family musical/artistic/writers? Describe your family members’ artistic interests and abilities.
My husband is an amazing musician, a talent I hope he passes to our children–whenever we decide to have them. My father is an amazing writer, not a novelist, but a writer in general. My mother is so multifaceted as far as being an artist. She creates amazing things from piles of molten glass, wool and fabric. My brother is a great graphic designer. I guess you could say I come from a family full of artists!

7. When and why did you start writing?
The second I could draw I started telling stories that way, then when I learned out to actually write I added words. The first time I was published was when I was 7 and won an American Girl Doll contest. Why? I don’t know, it’s just who I am.

8. What is the best part about writing?
What don’t I like about writing? Everything even the grueling editing process is something I love. Even when people don’t like my writing, the ones who do make up for it.

9. How do ideas come to you?
It’s kind of creepy, but most of my ideas start out as dreams and then spiral into what they become.

10. Describe your ideal place to write.
Outside with a nice breeze, on a soft hammock or patio chair, ear buds in and music playing.

Thank you for your time, Cassandra :)

~ jenelle


King’s Warrior is now available on Kindle! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008UCLDV0

I have scheduled a free promo for Aug 26-27 to celebrate the goodreads giveaway which ends on Aug 25: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/28153-king-s-warrior – so that anyone who doesn’t win one of the 5 copies has a chance to get the e-version for free.

~ jenelle

Things That Will Make Your Day

As an author, especially a self-published, debut author just getting started in the world of marketing and promoting your books, sometimes it can feel like a thankless job. Sure there’s the intrinsic motivation to write because it’s what you love to do, and sure there’s the satisfaction you get when you finish a story or see that you sold a book or two, but by and large there’s very little feedback from people you don’t know personally. Sometimes it can seem like the only people who care are just the people who care about me because they’re family and they “have” to. And while (at least for me) that is normally enough to keep me at it anyway, there are also moments where it can feel like the mountain is just too big to keep climbing. It can feel like there’s nothing really waiting at the top anyway, even if you could reach it.

And then… then you get a letter like this one:  

“Dear Ms. Schmidt, I read the book King’s Warrior and I really enjoyed the book and how many twists and turns there were, it always kept me guessing. … Thanks again.”

or like this one  

“Dear Ms. Schmidt, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your book “King’s Warrior.” I found it to be an exciting adventure with intriguing characters. It left me wanting more!”

Both of these letters are from people I don’t personally know. And that absolutely makes my day. Thank YOU, dear readers, for reminding me that it isn’t the top that’s important, it’s the climb.

~ jenelle