Frequently Asked Questions

QUESTIONS ABOUT HELPING STUDENTS AND WRITERS

Q. Can I interview you for a school project?
I don’t have a lot of time for interviews. You are welcome to ask, but if you do, I have two requests: 1. Please takes some of your questions from this page. There are writing questions at the bottom of this page that you might find valuable for your project. 2. Please limit your questions to five.
 
Q. Can you do a critique for me?
Unfortunately, I can’t do critiques for people I don’t know. If I met you at a school or writer’s conference, and gave you permission to email me for a critique, please do so and mention where we met to remind me. Otherwise, I highly recommend you find a critique group or attend a local writers conference to get feedback on your writing. Here are some links to posts about critique groups:

QUESTIONS ABOUT NEW PROJECTS

Q. What is King’s Folly (The Kinsman Chronicles)?
This is a new adult epic fantasy trilogy I’m writing for Bethany House Publishers. The first part of book one will release in September 2015. Here is the one paragraph description from my book proposal:
 
THE GODS ARE ANGRY…
 
Volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, ground shakers—everything points to their unhappiness. At least that is what the King of Armania believes. His son, Prince Wilek, thinks his father’s superstitions are nonsense, though he remains the ever dutiful heir apparent to the throne.
 
When a messenger arrives and claims that the town of Farway has been swallowed by the earth, the king sends Wilek to investigate. But what Wilek discovers is more cataclysmic than one lost city.
 
Even as the ground shifts beneath his feet, Wilek sets out on a desperate journey to save his people and his world. But can he do it before the entire land crumbles?
 

Q. But… Kinsman? Wasn’t Achan a Kinsman person? And is Armania like Arman? Is this a sequel to the Blood of Kings books? 
Hint: This series takes place on the same planet as Er’Rets, but it’s a different continent, a long time before Achan and Vrell came along.
 
Q. What is Onyx Eyes?
Onyx Eyes is a story I was writing on my blog by posting one chapter a week. I had to stop when a publisher became interested in the Kinsman Chronicles and I needed to start writing that book. So, for now, Onyx Eyes is on hold. I hope to go back to it as soon as I can. Until then you can still read the beginning of the story and give me feedback, if you’d like. Click here to learn more.
 
Q. What is RoboTales?
That is a beginning chapter book series I am writing with my son. They are fractured fairy tales, starring boys and a robot dog named Robo. We are waiting to hear back from several publishers on this project.
 

QUESTIONS ABOUT MY BOOKS

Q. Where can I find your books?
All my books are available in ebook formats. Paperback versions of The Safe Lands series, Replication, and Go Teen Writers are available wherever books are sold. If they don’t have copies in stock, they’ll order one for you.
 
My Blood of Kings trilogy and Mission League series are published by a small publisher, so you won’t find paperbacks of those titles in most stores. You can purchase them online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or The Book Depository.
 
Also, many libraries carry my books. If yours doesn’t, ask them to order them. If they are hesitant, download the library reviews on my Free Downloads page, take them to your librarian. Those might help.
 
If you’re interested in autographed copies, you can purchase any of my books autographed though my blog.
 
And you can listen to the Blood of Kings trilogy for free by subscribing to my podcast or downloading the old chapters through their archived files.
 
Q. What is The Sanctum?
The Sanctum is a newsletter I email out whenever I have a new book or I see that one of my books is on a really good sale. This is for my readers who want to keep up with the things I write or share them with friends. New subscribers will get a link to download a free short story I wrote called The Senet Box.

THE SAFE LANDS TRILOGY QUESTIONS

Q. How many books will be in the Captives/Safe Lands series?
There will be three Safe Lands books. Rebels releases August 26, 2014.
 
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Captives?
This video explains tells that story:YouTube Preview Image 
 

BLOOD OF KINGS TRILOGY QUESTIONS

Q. How many books are in the Blood of Kings series?
There are three books in the Blood of Kings trilogy: By Darkness Hid, To Darkness Fled, and From Darkness Won.
 
Q. Do you plan to write more books in the Blood of Kings storyworld?
I’m working on it. I should have something to announce before the end of 2014.
 
Q. How did you come up with the idea for the Blood of Kings books?
Two things happened close together that inspired this story. First, my son and I were walking along the streets of Burbank and we saw a burned-down house. There was a tree in the yard that had partially burned. It was half charred and half leafy green. I thought it was the coolest image. I ran home, opened Adobe Photoshop, and made this image. I couldn’t wait to write a story about this tree!
 
Around that time I dreamed about a guy with amnesia. Little did everyone in the dream know, but he was an important person who had been switched at birth–his identity stolen. I liked the idea of pairing a switcheroo plot with my half-dead/half-living tree. So I drew a map—because that’s what I do first when creating a new world—and started brainstorming.
 
Q: How did you come up with the idea for “blood voices”?
I needed a way for my girl character to know that my boy character had royal blood in him. In my original plan, she was a soldier who discovered who he really was and spent the whole book trying to prove it. But I’d changed that and needed a new way for her to figure it out. In my mind, she also had royal blood, and I remember thinking it would be cool if those with royal blood had some unique ability to sense others like them. In my old notes, I originally called it Blood Vision. I also found a paper where I had brainstormed other names for it, including Qoldam, which is my Hebrew version for bloodvoices: daum (blood) and qowl (voices). I thought Qoldam was too difficult to pronounce, so I ended up calling it bloodvoicing. It’s been a lot of fun to write the bloodvoicing magic.
 

THE MISSION LEAGUE SERIES QUESTIONS

Q. How many books are there going to be in the Mission League series?
There will be seven books: four full-length books and three novellas. I did that because as I was in edits for book two, my editor wanted me to cut out the entire school year. (Each Mission League story happens in the summer on a different year as Spencer goes through high school.) Since important things happen to Spencer during the school years, I decided to self-publish novellas of his school years that happen in between his summer training missions. Click here to see the breakdown of titles.
 
Q. How did you come up with the idea for the Mission League?
This was my very first book, so I went about it all wrong. I was trying to copy Harry Potter’s format. I decided that I needed:
1. a main character boy, who was an orphan
2. to send him away for some kind of training
3. to have him make two friends, one boy and one girl
4. to have him encounter an evil person and try to stop him
 
And ever since then I’ve had to try and find my own story from within that “formula” I thought I had discovered. It wasn’t until I switched the story to first person and found Spencer’s voice that the story began to work.
 

REPLICATION QUESTIONS

Q. Do you plan to write more books in the Replication series?
I originally designed the series to be a trilogy. But my publisher holds the rights to that storyworld and is not interested, at this time, in producing the sequels. If the rights ever revert back to me and the interest is there from readers, I might write and self-publish them someday.
 
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Replication?
I was riding in a car through upstate New York. We were going to a place to pick apples. We passed endless amounts of ranches, orchards, and farms. It got me thinking. What if there was a farm where they grew people? Clones. It could be called Jason Farms! And I was hooked.
 

QUESTIONS ABOUT WRITING

Q. Do you have any advice for writers?
So much! I have a tab for writers on this website. The first tab (Go Teen Writers Blog) will take you to a blog that has several years of amazing blog posts from many authors. I blog there. Make use of the Search box and type in whatever topic you need information about. I guarantee you’ll find a post on the subject. Even though this blog is targeted at teen writers, the information is the same for all writers. I’ve had several adult writers tell me that they secretly follow the Go Teen Writers blog and love it.
 
The second tab (Go Teen Writers Book) will take you to a page of information about a book I cowrote with author Stephanie Morrill. This is a book for those who’ve finished a first draft and need to edit it and don’t know where to start.
 
Q. What inspired you to become a writer?
I remember wishing there were more cool books for teens to read that dealt with real-life topics but didn’t glorify bad choices. I thought to myself, “I could do that.” (Boy, was I naieve! It was a lot harder than I thought.)
 
Q. What are your favorite books?
Too many to name. But here are some: The Hobbit, Hunger Games, The Circle Trilogy, This Present Darkness, Ender’s Game, Percy Jackson, anything by Brandon Sanderson, Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter, The Princess Bride, Ella Enchanted, Pride and Prejudice, The Chocolate War, The Lord of the Rings, Speak, The King of Atolia, Timeline.
 
Q. Can you recommend a freelance editor?
You bet! Check out my page on freelance editors by clicking here.
 
Q. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
I love creating characters. It’s amazing to sit behind a keyboard and bring people to life. I love getting to know my characters and seeing how they will shape the story I’m writing.
 
Q. What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Patience. It’s hard to write a novel, rewrite it a dozen times, and still have to wait to see it in print. You have to really love writing, because it might never be published. And even if it does get published, you might work for decades and never make enough money to support yourself. Understanding that is one of the hardest realities of being a writer.
 
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write and read a lot! The more you study the books you love, the more you’ll understand what makes a good story. The more you write, the better you’ll be able to tell a story. You also need to lean the craft of writing. You can do this by reading fiction, reading nonfiction books on the craft of writing, and attending writers’ conferences. Also, visit Go Teen Writers for a fabulous community of teen writers online.