Friday, August 31, 2012

AAA: Louise Reid - 5 Things That Inspire My Writing

It's our last AAA post, and it's an absolute honour to close with a guest post from the lovely Louisa Reid. Louisa' debut novel, Black Heart Blue released this year to overwhelming praise, and I can't wait to see what its talented author will bring us next!

5 Things That Inspire My Writing

1. Grit. I'm inspired when I hear about people who have overcome difficult circumstances and survived in the face of adversity. I'm fascinated by all life and all kinds of other people, but particularly inspired by true stories which explore how life's vicissitudes have been overcome. Usually the characters in my novels have to grit their teeth and fight against all the odds, remaining hopeful and strong when it seems everything is against them. Rebecca in Black Heart Blue is a perfect example of this and I was partly inspired to write about someone with a disfigurement after watching a documentary which explored the life of a man with Treacher Collins Syndrome. His tenacity and strength were a powerful inspiration.

2. Darkness. I love films, books, TV shows and music which explore the darker side of human nature. One of my all time favourite film makers is David Lynch and his incredible series Twin Peaks is a massive inspiration. Unfortunately, Bob is always lurking somewhere in my writing  - I remember catching a glimpse of him onscreen as a teenager and I don't think I've ever got over it. In my writing I love exploring what lies hidden behind closed doors and revealing all the skeletons in the closets of my characters. I like observing or hearing about people who are different or who stand out for one reason or another, I'm particularly inspired if they scare me a little and I start imagining all kinds of dark secrets.

3. Genius. Reading has been one of the most important things in my life. Great writers are absolutely an inspiration and I get huge pleasure out of my other job as an English teacher. Studying the greats like Shakespeare and the Brontes, Fitzgerald and Thomas Hardy is like mining a never-ending treasure trove: the deeper you dig, the more is revealed. As a writer I've learned so much from reading widely. There are tons of literary allusions in Black Heart Blue - all totally deliberate. I'd love it if someone would spot them all! I'll read pretty much anything too, not just classics. I love YA and children's fiction, popular fiction, memoirs  - the list goes on. As long as something is well written, I'll enjoy it. But what makes a book inspirational for me is if it's real  - I don't mean true stories here, but rather fiction which grabs me and holds me and makes me feel an intensity of emotion that in our every day life we have to hide. Poetry inspires me too, which is why you'll find a quote from Sylvia Plath's "Daddy" in Black Heart Blue. I love poetic structures and the playfulness, elegance and beauty of language.

4. Good vibrations. When I'm writing, I'll sometimes listen to music to try and evoke the mood or feelings of the characters even more strongly. As with books, for music to inspire me it has to move me -  when writing Black Heart Blue, there was a song which really spoke to me, in both melody and lyrics - I'm With God by The Cesarians. The uplifting and beautifully layered strings and horns epitomise for me Rebecca's triumph over her circumstances and the melancholy beauty of her character - something I was trying to capture in my writing. It also spoke to me of Hephzi's boldness and the bond between them. Since then I've heard the band playing live a couple of times and they put on a great show! But that song never fails to make my heart beat a bit faster.

5. Flower power. I love staring at the sea or the sky, the flatlands of the fens around where I live, or the mountains and hills of the south coast or Lake District. I'm not that great about adventuring around these places, but I totally get what the Romatic poets called the sublime. I wrote a book once (unpublished, I hasten to add) which began with a scene at the top of a moutain in The Lake District, and a little girl, dangerously climbing in wellies, walking into clouds and then slipping and tumbling into the arms of... (cliffhanger here!) and this was definitely inspired by the holidays my husband and children and I have had in that part of England. Not that we've made it up Helvellyn as yet!

Find Louisa on: Goodreads | Website  | TwitterFacebook

An enormous thank you to Louisa for her time today. If you love Louisa, or even just loved her post, take to Facebook or Twitter with a 'thanks' to let her know!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

AAA: Appreciating Brigid Kemmerer

Earlier this year I was tweeting with friends, and was asked if I’d want to participate in a blog tour for the release of an upcoming book. A few of my friends had RAVED about it, and I’d read and loved a handful of character interviews I’d seen during a blogging event earlier in the year. I read the book and fell instantly and desperately in love (who says there’s no such thing as instalove?), and my adoration has only grown.

That book was Storm, and its lovely author is the one and only Brigid Kemmerer.

I’ve loved every word Brigid’s written. From Storm, to Spark, and her two Novellas: Elemental and Fearless. I devoured the preview for her upcoming novel, Spirit, in the back of Spark, and when all that was done, I started reading through her blog.  Her books are only a part of why I love this woman and want to say thank you.

Brigid’s an inspiration. She’s blogged extensively with fantastic, practical writing advice, and she’s stuck at writing with a single-minded passion since she was a teen. She’s not only a writer, she’s a mother of three, and she works full time. We were honoured to have her stop by AAA earlier in the month to discuss her schedule, and the woman is super human. She fits more into a day than I fit into most weeks, and she does it with a sense of humour and humility than humbles me.

Through her writing, and through just being her, Brigid’s brought me many things: laughter, stories that stay with me, friends—including the amazing Becca who, while I knew before, I connected with over the blog tour I mentioned earlier—and perhaps best of all, inspiration.

So, Brigid, thank you. For everything. And a BIG congratulations on the release of SPARK.


And did you know Brigid's just released the book trailer for Spark? Check it out:


Find Brigid on: Goodreads | Website / Blog | Twitter | Facebook

We also have five copies of Storm up for grabs, and a pre-order of Spark!

Monday, August 27, 2012

AAA: Interview with Gail Carriger, author of SOULLESS

There are moment in blogging where I have pause, and stop before I hyperventilate. Like when Gail Carriger agrees to an interview for the August event you're planning. Aside from Neil Gaiman, who's pretty mucha  given, Gail was the first author I ever started following online--the first whose blog I read, and the first I followed on Twitter. I read her debut, Soulless, in one breathless sitting, refusing to put it down while I walked, ate, and went to the gym. Witty, wise--and though I'm sure it's a rather brutish word--hilarious, it's an honour to have her here today, and I hope you'll enjoy her interview as much as I.

While the Victorian England you write of is fantastical in many ways (though I prefer to believe the history books have it wrong), it's still strongly rooted in historical fact. It seems a passion of yours, but passion or not, it must take an extraordinary amount of research to write. Is research and fact-checking a large part of your process? How long does this take you?

Gail: I had a fair bit of expertise in certain aspects of the Victorian era (fashion, food, manners, literature, theatre, upper class courting rituals, antiquities collecting) when I started but great gaps in other areas that I quickly realized needed to be filled. I spent a lot of time researching the gadgetry and technology of the day, travel and communications techniques, medical and hard science advances, not to mention other things like major wars and military strategies, configuration of army regiments, geographical lay out of London in the 1870s (shops and streets names), newspapers, and government policies. I also looked into vampire and werewolf lore at the time. That’s the thing, you never know what information you are going to need until you need it, and inevitably the internet doesn’t have it. Since I’m writing alt history I can always disregard the facts, but I like to get it right first, before I mess with it. Most people won’t care to look up the details (or get it wrong by confusing my setting with Austen or mid–Victorian, I’m specifically 1873) but even if it doesn’t make it into the book, it will irritate me if unwritten background information is flawed. I'd say I spend as much time with research as I do writing. So for every hour I type there's an hour nose down in a book. Most of my reading for pleasure of an evening is primary sources if I'm writing a rough draft.

Does it become any easier writing the series as you go along?

Gail: No. Every book has different quirks and issues, excitements and flaws when writing.

Your characters are so vivid, charming and quirky, that, to me as a reader, it seems as though they have a life of their own. Do you always feel in control, or do you find they talk to you at surprising times? The idea of an irritable werewolf vying for my attention as I try to sleep is rather alarming...

Gail: I love the ridiculous, in life, in literature, in television. Like most authors, I find myself borrowing from any or all of these places when building characters. I don’t like to be too stereotypical, if you continue to read the Parasol Protectorate series you will find I have built up some archetypes in Soulless that I will take great glee in tearing apart in subsequent books. Mostly they do what I want but a few of them will hijack scenes. Lord Akeldama is particularly bad about it. But usually he knows what's going on in the book better than I do so it's best if I leave him to get on with the scene as he sees fit.

Complete the sentence? I cannot write without...
Tea, wrist braces, my laptop, the companion world–building notebook of relevance, often chocolate.

Last one! Your upcoming series, Etiquette and Espionage, is set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate books, but aimed at young adult readers instead of, err, 'grown-ups'.  What inspired you to explore YA? Are you finding it different to writing for the adult market?

Gail: I come out of YA, it's what I prefer to read and love to write. I like plot to be neat, tidy, and clear. It is different in some character motivation and a few other things, but every book is different and I'm learning to roll with it, keep calm, drink more tea.

Find Gailon: Goodreads | Website  |  Blog  |  TwitterFacebook
A big thank you to Gail for taking the time to talk to us today today! If you're a fan, why not take to Facebook and let her know!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blogspiration (33): An Invitation

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

Occasionally we like to shake things up around here.
Yep, I know. We’re baddass muthah*uckahs.

Uh… ANYWAY. This week for Blogspiration, instead of the normal ‘anything goes’, we’re posing a question:


You are still totally and COMPLETELY welcome to post another Blogspiration—this is just if you want to do something different, and we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming next week!

Mmmm... me? I think few of these will truly surprise ;D

  1. Neil Gaiman
  2. Douglas Adams
  3. C.S. Lewis (seated next to Douglas Adams, because THAT conversation would be worth buying tickets for)
  4. The Doctor - though he can sit anywhere he damn well pleases. I believe in the Doctor more passionately and fervently than I ever did Santa.
  5. Dumbledore. For exactly the same reasons as above ;D
  6. Stephen Fry (I think I'd be too intimidated by his intellect to sit directly next to him)
  7. J.K. Rowling
More on Blogspiration and Linky sign-up below the jump!

Friday, August 24, 2012

AAA: Jennifer L. Armentrout - 5 Things I Hate About Writing

I’m so excited to share a post from the amazing Jennifer L. Armentrout for you today. Jennifer's the author of some of the most compulsively addictive books I've EVER read, a hilarious tweeter, and enthusiastic blogger herself. While this month is all about appreciating authors, Jennifer recently posted about why she appreciates bloggers in an open 'thank you' letter, and it only makes me love and appreciate her more (seriously, you should go and check it out). Jennifer’s an incredibly hard-working writer, with three-full length novels published in the last year, and her second book in the Lux series, Onyx, just released. But not everything about writing is easy, and today she’s sharing with us the bits that aren’t so fun...

Top 5 Things I Hate About Writing.

1. The first chapter. Nothing makes me want to go rock in a dark corner more than the first chapter of any book. Knowing where to start a book is always the hardest. If you mess up, the whole pace of the book is off and angels lose their wings.

2. Outlining gives me hives.

3.  Synopsis equals the antichrist. Try summarizing a 460 page book into 2 pages while telling the entire plot and giving enough detail that someone knows what the book is about but only having approximately a 1000 words to do so. Then getting halfway through and realizing you can’t summarize the plot because your plot is ALL OVER THIS PLACE. Le sigh.

4. Writing the query/blurb, which is like writing the synopsis but not giving away the entire story, but making it interesting enough that someone in the world wants to read but having only 150-250 words to do so. Yikes.

5. Proofing. I just suck at the whole proofing stage.

Find Jennifer on: Goodreads | Website / Blog | Twitter | Facebook

An big thank you to Jennifer for her time today! Love Jen? Why not let her know? And is anyone else reading Onyx right now? THE TENSION :O :O :O  *DIES*

Thursday, August 23, 2012

AAA: Q&A with Maria V. Snyder + GIVEAWAY

This is what the title of this post reads like in my head: Interview with MARIA V. SNYDER OMG OMG OMFGEEE!!! I'll let you in on a little secret: I am a total Maria V. Snyder FANGIRL. If any of you have read Poison Study, you'll know why. It starts with 'V', it ends with 'K'  with a whole lot of awesome inbetween. Maria keeps surpassing herself. Her Study and Glass series are wonderful, her Sci-Fi Dystopians, Inside Out and Outside In are extraordinary, and her most recent release is kind of responsible for my relationship with one of my two best friends in the world. Yes, the lady's a superhero, and it is an honour and a priveledge to welcome her to the ranks of our fellow AAA superheroes today! Without further ado, the one and only, Maria V. Snyder!

How much research goes into your novels? There’s a wealth of details, from lock picking, to fight scenes, even the poison tasting process in Poison Study—it must be incredibly time consuming!

Maria: I do as much research as is needed for the story.  I don’t research for months and months in advance and then sit down and write.  I start the story and when I encounter something that I don’t know about like picking a lock, I put brackets in the text like this: [insert lock picking details here].  Then when I need a break from writing, I’ll do the research.  I try and do as much hands on research as possible.  For my books, I’ve learned how to blow glass, ride a horse, and fence.  But I also draw on my experience.  I’ve been doing karate since I was in college, and the poison tasting is from years of listening to my husband talk about his work. I consider everything I do fodder for my writing. :)

What's the best part of being an author?

Maria: My readers. They have been so supportive and excited about my books and are quite motivating.  I love hearing about how my stories have inspired them.  I enjoy meeting them and some of them will fly to see me or drive over 12 hours one way just to see me, that’s unbelievable.  It’s very heartening.  And it was totally unexpected.  Yes, I expected people to read my books, but I didn’t expect to make this special connection with them.

From Trella’s rigid environment (in Inside series) to Sitia’s lush forests and vast deserts (in the Study and Glass series), your novels are filled with vivid, beautifully imagined worlds—where do you find your inspiration? Do you draw from places you know?

Maria: I enjoy traveling and when I’m in a new place, I take notes.  As for Trella’s world of pipes, I dreamed that one.  And I think it’s from when I was younger and helping my father with his heating and air conditioning business on the weekends – crawling around all that ductwork must have made an impression.

Each of your heroines has endured and overcome some kind of physical violence to not just survive, but flourish. It’s an incredibly inspiring message for young women. Was this something you always set out to focus on, or something you just really love writing about?

Maria: I don’t focus on it, but I’ll admit, I can’t stand passive, helpless heroines.  I’ve always been independent and made a point of learning how to defend myself and learned how to solve problems.  I made sure I graduated college with a degree that I knew I could get a good-paying job with.  And that does translate into my fiction.  If my heroine’s life’s in danger, then I might have her rescued the first time, but she’s going to learn how to defend herself so she can take care of the problem the second time.  I’ve gotten many emails from young women telling me they signed up for karate or self-defense classes after reading one of my books and that’s fantastic!  I love hearing that!

Last one! What's your funniest (or weirdest) moment as an author? Any crazed fans?

Maria: No crazed fans, but I did have one lady who thought I believed in real magic. We had a nice conversation about it, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her my books were fiction (she didn’t buy any).  A few times, people have told me rather personal things which they shouldn’t be divulging.  One of the funnier things, I had a book store employee who hand sold many copies of my books so I told him he was one of my book commandos.  He thought it was cool, but his boss teased him about it, so I mail him a squirt gun so he could have revenge on his boss.

Thank you for inviting me to your event!  If your readers would like more info about me and my books, I have the first chapter of all my books on my website as well as a number of free short stories they can read.  Here’s the link: And my blog is:

Find Maria on: Goodreads | Website  |  Blog  | Facebook
A big thank you to Maria for taking the time to talk to us today today! If you're a fan, why not take to Facebook and let her know. Remember to enter the giveaway (under the jump) for a chance to win dozens of amazing books and prizes, include an Inside Omnibus!

Author ONLY Giveaway - A Giveaway FOR Authors!

Welcome to Author Appreciation August. We hope you're having fun, because this event is all about YOU. We want to give a little something back to show we love and appreciate you, so we’ve planned something special, just for you: a giveaway for all authors.  The only requirement for entering the giveaway is that you have a published novel--whether you’re an Indie, with a lark publisher, or anything in between, this our way of saying ‘thanks’!

What’s up for grabs:

Careful Or You'll End Up In My Novel, acrylic necklace
Say It Well, Sylvia Plath print
Keep Calm and Write It Down, notebook

Now that you've seen the amesome goodies you could win, it's time to enter the giveaway! Have fun and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

AAA: Guest Post by Brigid Kemmerer - 'Time To Write' + GIVEAWAY

Unlikely, but it may have escaped someone's notice that I'm a massive fangirl of the wonderful Brigid Kemmerer. Not only is she an exceptionally talent writer, she's also one of the nicest authors and human beings you'll meet online. Her debut novel, Storm, blew me away earlier this year, her follow-up, Spark, is one of those books so bloody good I could cry, and she keeps getting better. With two novellas out this year, Elemental and Fearless, we've been spoiled.  I don't know about you, but I can't wait for May 2013 to get my hands on book #3 - Spirit!

Brigid Kemmerer on Time To Write

A lot of people ask me how I find time to write.

Sometimes I don’t have any idea how to answer that question. It’s like asking how I find time to breathe. I just do. They say if you want something badly enough, you’ll make time for it.

Here’s a typical day:

5am: Wake up, take a shower, and try to get a sip of coffee before the baby wakes up.
Answer book-related emails.
5:30am: Give the baby back his pacifier and pray he goes back to sleep.
5:45am: Give in to baby’s demands and give him a bottle, then lay him back down.
6am: Nick (five-year-old) wakes up.
6am – 7am: Get everyone dressed, lunches packed, put something resembling makeup on my face, and get out the door.
8am: Arrive at work. YES. I HAVE A FULL TIME JOB. I go there every day.
4pm: Leave work.
5pm: Get home with the kids.
5:15pm: Feed the baby and start dinner.
6pm: Eat dinner and attempt to make eye contact with husband. Surreptitiously Tweet/Facebook from phone under table while no one is looking.
6pm – 8pm: Clean up dinner / bathe kids (or pray no one will notice if we skip it) / try to cram quality family time into two hours
8pm: God willing, the kids go to sleep.
8:15pm: Whip out the laptop. Answer more emails. Talk to people on Twitter and Facebook.
9pm: Start writing.
11pm (or later): Bed.

Sometimes, I skip the quality time and baths and go to Starbucks, and my husband takes care of the kids. (This is always a very tough choice for me to make, but I get a lot of writing done at Starbucks. My local shop will actually be thanked in the acknowledgments for Spirit, because almost the entire book has been written in one of their chairs.)

Now, I don’t write every day. I can’t. I would never see my husband.

I also can’t write at work. Not even when it’s slow. I’m very, very careful to keep my day job life very separate from the writing life. I might surf a few writing-related websites during my lunch hour, but that’s it. Not one word of my book is written while I’m at work.

I don’t assign myself daily writing goals. That’s a good way to make myself nuts. I do try to set weekly writing goals (which I never meet), and I’m fine with looking at my life as one big fluid block of time, and I’ll get things done when I get them done. My kids are young, and I want to see them grow up. I don’t want to watch the Starbucks baristas grow up.

I’m also big on living in the moment. When I’m with the kids, I try to be with the kids, not worrying about word counts or deadlines. When I’m with my husband, I try to focus on our time together, not anything else. It helps, because when it’s time to write, it’s time to focus on that.

Right now, my life is kinda nuts, and I’m okay with that. You’ll notice above that I don’t schedule in any time for friends, or for going to the gym, or for anything social. Right now, for me, doing any of those things is a rare occurrence. It’s a sacrifice for sure, but right now, it’s worth it. I also couldn’t pull this off without the support of my family. My husband is amazing.

Because there’s a passionate spark about writing. Even if I didn’t have the deadlines, I’d find the time to do it. I’m burning the candle at both ends, and I’m going to keep right on doing it until I run out of stories to tell. (Or I run out of wax.)


Find Brigid on: Goodreads | Website / Blog | Twitter | Facebook

An enormous thank you to Brigid for taking time out to write this post. This only proves to convince me what I've long suspected: She's some kind of authorly superhuman-goddess. If you love Brigid too, why not take the time to say 'thanks' via Twitter or Facebook?

If you're dying to get Storm on your reader now, you're in luck! Amazon has Storm available for only $2.99 - but it's only for a limited time. If you want more of the Elemental world and the Merricks, did you know there's a third novella coming out next year, starring the one and only NICK MERRICK?

We also have five copies of Storm up for grabs, and a pre-order of Spark!

Monday, August 20, 2012

AAA: Interview with Lauren Oliver

Earlier in the year I had the absolute delight of meeting Lauren Oliver in person. Funny, wise, eloquent, and a wonderful speaker, it's no wonder her books have become an international success. I don't believe anyone at her Sydney event walked away anything short of completely charmed. It's an honour to have her here today, and I hope you'll enjoy her interview as much as I.

I was lucky enough to hear you talk when you were in Sydney earlier this year (you were amazing!). I remember you talking about your career, and path to being published. You studied and worked in the publishing industry (and wrote and re-wrote an 800 page novel!)--it wasn't something you just fell into. So I guess I'm asking how long it took you to nail down that first idea, and get it published

Lauren: My first publishable idea came pretty quickly--from start to finish, the whole book took me just about a year to write. But I'd spent years writing many failed novels before I had the idea for BEFORE I FALL!

What's the best part of being an author?

Lauren: Getting paid to do the thing I love most in the world!

And the worst?

Lauren: When I have too many ideas and not enough time to write them all!

What's a typical day in life of Lauren Oliver? You live in New York, so I'm sure it's all coffee dates, fancy parties, knock of a few chapters in a hour before cocktails with girls, no? ;D

Lauren: Actually, that's not too far off, especially a few years ago, when I was single. :) Now there's a lot more sitting on the couch with my man, watching Game of Thrones! And there's a lot more work than there is shopping--I work between 5-9 hours a day, typically. And THEN I drink cocktails with my girlfriends!

Last one! What's your funniest (or weirdest) authorly moment? Any crazed fans?

Lauren: Hmmm. No, although I did recently have a fan tweet me that he'd located my house on Google Maps! That was slightly disconcerting. But in general my fans are awesome.

Find Lauren on: GoodreadsWebsite | Twitter | Facebook

A big thank you to Lauren for her time today! If you're a fan, why not take to Facebook or Twitter and let her know. Remember to enter the giveaway (under the jump) for a chance to win dozens of amazing books and prizes!


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