QUESTIONS FROM 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 use this page to answer some of your questions. There are many writing questions at the bottom of this page that you might find valuable for your project.
2. Read my journey to publication story here to answer any of those questions.
3. 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 Magic Hunters?
Magic Hunters is a serialized story for Kindle Vella, a new venture of Amazon’s. It’s a fairytale mashup story my husband wrote and I’m rewriting.
Hunter, the son of the huntsman who nearly killed Snow White, is tired of the shame that labels his family. In desperation, he makes a wish upon a magic mirror, accidentally unleashing a curse that eradicates magic from the Story Realms. In order to right the wrong, Hunter sets out on an epic quest to find a wizard who can restore the magic that was lost and return the Story Realms to normal.
Click here to learn more about Magic Hunters.
Q. What is the Thirst Duology?
The Thirst Duology is a prequel to The Safe Lands trilogy. It tells the story of Papa Eli, back when he was a teenager and struggling to survive the Great Pandemic. Here is the description for the first book:
A waterborne disease has contaminated the world’s fresh water, decimating the human race. Seventeen-year-old Eli McShane and his friends flee the chaos and violence in Phoenix and journey north toward the rumored location of a safe water source. They add several to their number, including the mysterious Hannah, who is being hunted by a dangerous man. Desperation brings out the worst in many of the travelers, infecting even those closest to Eli. When division comes, will he be able to hold his group together or will each fall victim to their own thirst for survival?
Click here to learn more about the Thirst Duology.
Q. What is King’s Folly (The Kinsman Chronicles)?
This is an epic fantasy ancient prequel trilogy to the Blood of Kings stories. It takes place on the same “planet” as Er’Rets, but it’s a different continent, a long time before Achan and Vrell came along. If the Blood of Kings books paralleled a medieval Europe, the Kinsman Chronicles loosely parallel ancient Israel, Judah, Canaan, and Palestine. Here is the description of book one:
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?
Click here to learn more about the Kinsman Chronicles.
Q. Where can I find your books?
All my books are available in ebook formats. Paperback versions are available wherever books are sold. International readers can order through The Book Depository and receive free shipping. If brick-and-mortal bookstores don’t have copies of my books in stock, they’ll order them for you. The Blood of Kings trilogy is available in digital audio book formats.
Also, many libraries carry my books. If yours doesn’t, ask them to order them.
If you’re interested in autographed copies, you can purchase books in Jill’s Bookstore. Be sure to add autograph instructions in the comments when placing your order.
Q. What is The Sanctum?
The Sanctum is my monthly newsletter I email out to subscribers. I share book news, do giveaways, and talk about what I’m reading and watching. This is for my readers who want to keep up with the things I write and what’s going on with me. New subscribers will get a link to download a free short story I wrote called The Senet Box. Click here to learn more about my email newsletter.
THE SAFE LANDS TRILOGY
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Captives?
This video explains tells that story:
BLOOD OF KINGS TRILOGY
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
Q. How many books are there going to be in the Mission League series?
There are six books: four full-length books and two 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. Here is the order of the books in the series:
The New Recruit (Mission 1: Moscow)
Chokepoint (Mini-Mission 1.5)
Project Gemini (Mission 2: Okinawa)
Ambushed (Mini-Mission 2.5)
Broken Trust (Mission 3: Alaska)
The Profile Match (Mission 4: Cambodia)
The Mission League Ebook Box Set
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.
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! First, check out the “Worksheets” tab on this website for things you can download to help you with characters, plot, and storyworld. Second, check out the Go Teen Writers Blog that has twelve 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.
Also, I have authored and co-authored several writing books. Go Teen Writers: Write Your Novel will help you with first drafts. Go Teen Writers: Edit Your Novel will help you take your first draft and get it ready for publication. Storyworld First is a great book to help you create a mythical storyworld or add mythical elements to our world. And Punctuation 101 is filled with all the punctuation and grammar rules you need to know for writing fiction in the publishing industry.
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 naive! 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, be sure to visit the Go Teen Writers website for a fabulous community of teen writers online.