Author Interview: Jaye Robin Brown & Giveaway!

JRoMeet Jaye Robin Brown!

Jaye Robin Brown, or Jro to her friends, lives and writes in the mountains north of Asheville, North Carolina. She’s in awe of magic and beauty, and is a stalwart champion for the underdog, both human and other. When she’s not writing, you can find her in the art room of the high school where she teaches, or on her small farm hanging out with her dogs, cats, and horses.

Tell me as much as you can about yourself in only one sentence.
Laughter-loving introvert with a crazy level love for my two dogs, a need for daily creativity and hot baths, and a constant craving for salad and sweets almost simultaneously.

Share a favorite quote or small excerpt from your latest work.  
This is Will, from WILL’S STORY, talking about playing the banjo. “My fingers fly across the strings and the sweet metallic sound weaves in and out of the dulcet sound of Jack’s guitar. I’m speed and motion. I’m pure unadulterated energy. When we wind up and up until the moment we drop all sound, I think this has got to be the next best thing to sex.”

Do you have any irrational fears that you can completely justify?
I have an irrational fear of driving on even the slightest bit of snow or ice. A single flake can set me off. And even though I have 2 4WD vehicles, I will still stay home on any and every snow day. I completely justify this by the fact I grew up in South Alabama where it only snowed twice in my ENTIRE childhood.

Tell me something interesting or unexpected about your current writing project:
I was surprised that Will’s dad, the judge, is not only a musician like his sons, but he’s a baker as well! I didn’t realize either of those things when I wrote No PLACE TO FALL. It only came out when I wrote the novella.

Do you have a “day” job or career outside of writing?  
I’m a high school art teacher. It’s incredibly awesome and I feel so fortunate to do two things that I love, although sometimes it’s hard to keep a good balance between my two jobs and still be able to have any sort of social life. But then again, since I’m an introvert, it works out okay.

SPEED ROUND!

  • Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, or I’m so undercaffeinated it’s frightening!
    • Coffee or Lady Grey tea!
  • Light side, dark side, or tragically caught on the edge of both worlds?
    •  Tragically caught in both worlds!
  • E-reader, print book, audiobook, or a combination?
    • Print book all the way!
  • Cat person, dog person, or I forgot to feed my fish, and it died?
    • Woof! Woof!

Oh, I wanna dance with somebody! Would you dance with me? If so, pick a style of dance you like and the best song to go with it:
Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend (the one with Lil Mama) is the absolute best dance song when you need to up your energy! My style? Jumping around like crazy with absolutely no training and completely and fully the white girl that I am. I have no shame about my semi-rhythmic abilities and absolutely love a good dance party.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I’m in the middle of getting ready to sell my farm and move to a location closer to Asheville, so if I’m not painting, cleaning, sorting, I’m obsessing on Pinterest about what I want the new place to be like. I also love going to hear live music with friends, hiking these beautiful mountains, and spending time with my horses on the trails.

Do you stick to one genre or switch it up? Which genre scares you the most and why?
So far only my YA contemporary has been published. But I’ve tinkered with some Middle Grade, written a picture book or two, and have a YA sci-fi in the half written files. The genre that scares me the most? Probably historical because of the accurate research involved.

Predict the future: Yours or mine, I’m flexible. Just make it interesting.
After a dream trip to the Easter Islands where you fall in love with an itinerant biologist, the two of you will set up a home in a treehouse in Bora Bora. There you will write the ecological thriller that will land you a seven-figure deal with a big publishing house here in the States. You will use the money to start a charity for wayward monkeys and live happily ever after.

B.A. Wilson:  You have no idea how much I hope this will come true, except replace monkeys with Great Danes!  🙂 

What’s your biggest writing fear, and how do you manage it?  
That I’ll run out of ideas. Haven’t really found a way to manage that fear, but I try to read the news, watch documentaries, listen to my students, all with an ear toward latching on to a big idea when it comes my way. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this idea pool that floats around us in her book Big Magic and how if we’re not ready for the idea when it comes that it may float on to someone who is. So I try to trust in that process as well. You also have to keep going out and living life because if you stay in a cloistered bubble, what do you have to bring to your stories?

Aliens have conquered Earth and are forcing you to give up either reading or writing. What’s it going to be? (And no cheating. If you choose writing, you can’t read your own work after writing it.)
I’d have to give up writing and keep reading. I wouldn’t be a writer without it.

What has been your best moment as a writer, so far, and how did it make you feel?
Probably when I got my box of ARCs for No Place To Fall and held my story in my hands in book form. It was incredibly surreal and exciting. Second best? Having my students read it and tell me their opinions.

Here’s your chance to ask me any one question about myself, and whatever you decide to ask, I promise to answer honestly, with full disclosure:
How do you read so much??? And what are your favorite 2015 contemporaries (mine is not in the 2015 pool) you’ve read?

B.A. Wilson: You opened a can of worms, and with my promise of full disclosure, the answer to your first question could be lengthy, so I’ll start by listing some of my favorite 2015 contemporaries, in case you give up before getting to the end. 

Favorite 2015 Contemporaries:  (Linked to my reviews, in case you want/need explanation)

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23149128 23009402 Red, vintage, neon motel sign on blue sky; Shutterstock ID 95002717 22896551

(In looking these up, I realized how many 2015 novels I still haven’t read, which gave me serious TBR guilt, for which I blame Jaye Robin Brown) 

Now, I’ll answer: How do you read so much?

(For reference, I’ve read 123 books in 2016, so far: List on Goodreads)

  1. I love stories to an extreme. 
  2. Addictive personality
  3. A deep desire to experience life in all the ways I never can or never will
  4. I believe reading helps my writing far more than just writing helps it.
  5. I’m single, live in a very small town where almost nothing ever happens, and I don’t fit in all that well.
  6. I can’t seem to help preferring books to people, in most instances. 
  7. I feel like I owe it to myself, and my writing, to be well-read in the category I most want to write in (which is YA, though I can’t conform to one genre). 
  8. I am a previous middle school librarian, turned public library director, turned public library services consultant.  To be good at my job(s), especially as a middle school librarian, it was important to read and stay current, so I could talk books with my students. And love books with them. And despair over books with them.  
    1. Due to my career, I’ve been really active in professional library organizations, which lead to committee work on state book awards committees, which require an extreme amount of reading. 
  9. When I almost sold my house (just under 2 years ago), I turned off my cable and internet.  When the sale fell through at the last moment, I opted not to turn back on my services (hoping the house would sell again fast, which it did not). I read so much more now that I wonder if I should leave cable off forever, though I also love the stories told on TV. 
  10. Lately, I listen to a ton of audiobooks (thank you, Audible), but I’m not patient and like information to be delivered fast.  Audiobook readers speak so painfully slow I zone out at a normal speed.  However, I crank them up to double speed, and I pay far better attention (sounds frantic for 30 seconds, then my brain adjusts). A side perk, is that I finish books in half the time. YA novels are often in that 8-12 hour range, which is only 4-6 hours at double speed. 
    1. 2.5 hours of commute plus 1.5 hours of lunch and breaks = 4 hours of reading time during “work” day. 
    2. I often continue listening to my book after I arrive home at night, as I work on things around the house, so I can basically consume a book in a work day. 
  11. I like to see if I can do things that seem impossible, which was how the reading 50 books in a month came about in January.  That created a serious reading habit, and I use my time differently now and find more ways to squeeze in reading.  However, I read a lot less when brainstorming and drafting, as I need more head space for that. 

Thanks, Jaye Robin Brown for the chat! I enjoyed learning more about you.

Read on for more information about No Place to Fall and Will’s Story, and don’t miss the giveaways at the end of the post!


No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown 

NPTF coverPublished December 9th 2014 by HarperTeen

Summary: Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Will’s Story: A No Place to Fall Novella by Jaye Robin Brown
Published April 5th 2016 by Epic Reads Impulse

Will's Story coverSummary: Will McKinney is a bad boy. At least, he used to be. After nearly getting arrested for some poor decisions involving prescription drugs, Will has been trying to turn over a new leaf. Well, it’s that or suffer the wrath of his father, the judge. Will’s starting to get his life in Sevenmile, North Carolina, in order. He’s applying to colleges. He’s dating the most popular girl at school. And he recently discovered a love of playing the banjo and performing in front of a crowd. But it’s that same love of music that draws him to Amber Vaughn, his younger teenage brother’s best friend. Now Will finds himself wondering if he just might really be a bad guy because even though he’s got a girlfriend, he can’t stop thinking about Amber.

Will’s Story is a companion novella to Jaye Robin Brown’s young adult debut, No Place to Fall, and perfect for fans of her novel and newcomers alike.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Giveaways

(please note that one is specifically US ONLY and the other INTL ONLY)

– US ONLY-
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*Giveaways run from Monday April 11 – Monday April 25.*

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Author Interview (and Giveaway): Tiana Warner

AUTHOR BIO
Tiana Warner was born and raised in British Columbia, Canada. She enjoys riding her horse, Bailey, and collecting tea cups.

Author links:


Give us the tweet-sized version of what Ice Massacre is about.

 A teenage girl is sent to battle the hostile mermaids that are driving her people into poverty. A story of love, secrets, and ass-kicking.
What makes Ice Massacre unique?
First, I haven’t seen a lot out there that portrays mermaids for what they really are: flesh-eating sea demons. But I think what also sets it apart is its almost entirely female cast. This island decides to send female warriors to kill the mermaids that plague them, because women don’t fall victim to a mermaid’s supernatural allure. We end up with an all-female war on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Meela, an aboriginal girl who’s never been away from the tiny island she calls home, also has a pretty unique journey of self-discovery. I don’t want to reveal too much. But I think a lot of aspects make this story unconventional.
What’s your favourite thing about the book?
I love Meela’s antagonists. Meela’s a tough chick and she has a lot coming at her from all directions.Writing those opposing forces was so much fun.
What’s next for you as a writer?
The sequel! This is the first in a trilogy, and I’m hard at work on book two: Ice Crypt.

NOVEL DETAILS: 

Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner 
Publication date: September 18th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis: A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.
Eighteen-year-old Meela has already lost her brother to the Massacre, and she has lived with a secret that’s haunted her since childhood. For any hope of survival, she must overcome the demons of her past and become a ruthless mermaid killer.
For the first time, Eriana Kwai’s Massacre warriors are female, and Meela must fight for her people’s freedom on the Pacific Ocean’s deadliest battleground.

Find out more or add this novel to your To Read list at: Goodreads


Purchase: FREE during the blitz!  @ Amazon
(Click Amazon for link to novel)

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Book Blitz (Day 2): Author Interview with Jordan Locke

Author interview with Jordan Locke (Giveaway and Author Links at the bottom) 

Were you always good at English?
Honestly, English was not my best subject in school. When I was younger, I never, ever thought I would someday be writing novels.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I had an idea for a scene for a book or movie, wrote a few pages and stuck it in a drawer. Four years later, while listening to a radio show about books, the ideas started coming, and I HAD to write them down. In a couple of weeks, I wrote the entire plot.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I write at night and on the weekends. Most of us writers have day jobs.
Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I have a very rough idea of a plot and characters and just start writing.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
About a year—a few months for a first draft, and then six to nine months of editing.
Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
I’m a graphic designer in my day job, so I designed the cover myself. The idea, a graphic depiction of rows of females and only one male, came to me while I was writing the book. When I designed the cover, I added the teenage boy holding the page to give it a human touch.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Definitely. It’s a potential reader’s first impression. Of course, it’s the writing that’s going to convince them whether or not to buy the book.
How are you publishing this book and why?
My agent was unable to sell The Only Boy to major publishers (many of them had overfilled their quotas for dystopian novels), so I decided to publish it myself.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing versus being traditionally published?
Advantages: You have more control when you self-publish, and you can get your book out really quickly. Disadvantages: You have to do everything yourself (design, edit, market, etc.), and your chance of success is much, much lower.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Persistence is key. Keep reading, keep writing and keep learning the craft.

Author links: AmazonGoodreadsWebsiteTwitter

The Only Boy by Jordan Locke 
Publication date: December 17th 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules—the Matriarch’s senseless rules—prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out.


Taylor’s got a dangerous secret: he’s a boy. His compound’s been destroyed, and he’s been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he’ll be exiled. Maybe even executed.

Mary’s never seen a boy—the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks—and she doesn’t suspect Taylor’s secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him.

Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary—and braving the land beyond the compound’s boundaries.

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Book Blitz (Day 2): Author Interview with S.M. McEachern

How did the idea for Sunset Rising come to you?
I’m asked this question a lot and it really is one of the most difficult questions to answer. I’ve always wanted to write and attempted to pen a few novels in the past, but I never found a topic interesting enough to stick with it. When my oldest daughter started reading young adult fiction, we decided to do buddy reads together and that’s when I discovered the YA genre. I fell in love. I suddenly had tons of ideas for a plot, but only one really persisted.
Back in my university days, I did some research on a biodome in Arizona and had to ask myself the obvious question of why would humanity need a hermetically sealed environment capable of sustaining life? Given the current geo-political climate, it wasn’t difficult for me to come up with a good reason, and the foundation for the “Sunset Rising” series was born.

Sunset Rising is a series? Where do you see the story going?

If someone hit the reset button on Earth, how would you change the future? Would you try to rebuild what was already here or go in a different direction? The series is a cautionary tale and I try to show an entertaining, yet realistic, vision of how civilization might rebuild itself.

Sunset Rising is the first book in the series and focuses on how humanity might evolve when forced to live in close quarters in order to survive a nuclear apocalypse. This book deals with issues like bonded slavery, caste systems, physical and sexual abuse, and how limited resources can lead to war. The second book of the series, entitled Worlds Collide, was just released, and I think I surprised a lot of readers with it. SR was often compared to The Hunger Games and The City of Embers, so Worlds Collide blindsided a few readers. This book picks up exactly where SR leaves off and continues to build upon the story. I introduce a lot of new characters and construct an entirely new political system. The third book will pick up where the story leaves off in WC, but you can probably already guess I’m building a whole new world in this book as well.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep at it – what keeps you going?
I love writing, especially world building, so I don’t actually need any more motivation for that pursuit. The hard part is trying to juggle family life with being an independent author. Marketing takes up an enormous amount of time, leaving little left over for writing. It’s a difficult balance.

What movies do you like to watch?
I love watching action movies—especially if there’s a hot guy starring in it! Some of my favorites were The Avengers, Star Trek (all of them!), and Red (the first one). I don’t usually watch typical “chick flicks”, although I was talked into watching Crazy Stupid Loveon Valentines Day. The scene when Jacob (played by Ryan Gosling) takes off his shirt in front of Hannah (played by Emma Stone) and she just stares at him, mouth agape, and finally says “Seriously? It’s like your Photoshopped!” was hilarious.

Action heroes, huh? Which one—Ironman or Thor?
Although Thor is hot, he’s a little too melancholy for my liking. Ironman’s not only a hero, but he’s witty, funny, charming and filthy rich. Definitely Ironman.

As an author, how do you work through self-doubt and fear?
I think everybody on the planet has to work through self-doubt and fear no matter what s/he does for a living. Writing isn’t any different. I understand that when I put my work out there for people to read, I invite their opinion. Most of the feedback has been fantastic and a real confidence boost, but there are some critical reviews that keep me grounded. Accepting that I’m never going to write a book that every single person on this planet is going to like is the first step conquering my fears.

Do you find it hard to share your work?
Yes! Especially with people I know. My husband’s still not allowed to read my books.

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?
I have a LOT of people to thank for supporting me. My family for putting up with me locked away in my office for hours; my husband for his technical expertise on my blog and ebook formatting; and, most of all, for complete strangers who got in touch with me because they read Sunset Rising and loved it. I have a lot of beta readers as well that have taken the time to give me their valuable opinions and critiques. I’m really just blown away and humbled by the amount of support I’ve received by so many people.

Every writer has her/his own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
As a debut author, for me success is being able to write something that readers want to read! Luckily, I’ve been able to do that, so I guess it’s time to set the bar a little higher. I’d like to expand my audience. Quite a few of my readers said they’d like to see Sunset Rising made into a movie—that would be super cool!

Tell us about your new book—what’s it about and why did you write it?
Worlds Collide is the second book of the Sunset Rising series. It picks up exactly where Sunset Rising leaves off—with the two main characters, Sunny and Jack, outside the Dome exploring a world they always believed had been devastated by nuclear war. They discover the Earth is fine and there are people living outside! As they uncover the horrifying truth of President Holt’s plans for the Pit, they realize time is running out to not only save the urchins, but the world.

If you could do any job in the world, what would you do?
That’s easy. Be a writer.

What’s the reason for yourlife? Have you figured out your reason for being here yet?
I’m here because I was born, so I might as well use my time wisely. Reading, writing, researching, interacting with others, teaching, learning, raising two kids, being a wife, being a friend—this is what life is all about. We take what we need and then we give back. Learn about the world you live in and see how you can contribute.

Do you do much research for your books?
I do a ton of research for my novels. As a reader, nothing takes me out of science fiction story faster than bad science. For Sunset Rising, I had already done quite a bit of research on the Biosphere in Arizona, so that was a bit easier. For Worlds Collide, I got in touch with a scientist from the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) to advise me on theme in that novel. I’m currently doing some research for the third book, which I’ll keep secret for now 

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I’ve had writer’s block a few times and I cured it by going to see an action-packed movie. A really good book can get my creative juices flowing too. On a daily basis, I also go for a run with my iPod loaded up with inspirational music, like Moby, Keane, Cold Play, and Lana del Rey.

Have you started another book yet?
I have started the third book in the Sunset Rising series. I’m doing a lot of research at the moment, so not many words have put on paper yet.

Do you have any advice for writers?
Invest in your craft. Listen to what readers are telling you through their reviews. Constantly seek to improve your skills. If you truly like writing and want to make a career of it, join a writer’s group, take workshops on writing and network with people in the industry. Research is an important component of being a successful writer, both in terms of writing a story and selling one. If you’re going to self-publish, find an editor you can work with, a good cover artist, and beta readers who can give you critical feedback. Learn to accept that the bad reviews are just as important as the good reviews.

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?
I’m not so sure I’d want to invite a dead person to a dinner party… ew! I’ve been lucky in that I’ve met a lot of influential people. My mentor in university was Elizabeth Mann-Borgese, the daughter of author and Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann. Her entire life was devoted to finding a way to foster world peace and, like her father, she’s been nominated for the Nobel Prize. I’ve also been to Buckingham Palace for a tea party with Queen Elizabeth (alongwith 3,000 other of her “closest” friends!). And I once had the opportunity to meet President Bill Clinton when he was in Halifax for the G-9 Summit meetings, but got tired of waiting for him and left. I always regretted that. So, if I had to choose someone to come to dinner, I’d probably pick the President of the United States. I wonder if Mr. Obama would come?

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
I have a hectic family life. My oldest daughter is a competitive swimmer and my youngest is competitive in martial arts. My husband just returned from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan. So, honestly, I don’t spend much time relaxing. If I do find some time, I like to read a good book and sip a nice vintage.

Are you a city slicker or a country lover?
I’m a city girl who likes to escape to the country from time to time. I prefer to have modern amenities within walking distance in my day-to-day life. I’ve lived in the country before and ended up doing way too much driving for my kids extra-curricular activities, shopping, doctors, etc. However, I do like to go hiking, kayaking, bird watching and exploring coastlines, so the occasional escape to the countryside is fun.

Check out the novel on Goodreads 
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