Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back From Tokyo!

I'm still not adjusted to the cold weather in Seattle and the jetlag! I've been walking and standing all day for the past ten days, so I am exhausted. It was a very surreal trip and I got to work with a great crew and met awesome people. (And ate wicked good food.)

It was my third time in Tokyo. (Last time I went was five years ago.) My favorite was shopping in crazy Harajuku...and just wandering around at night since it was so lively everywhere. Even in the kids' park at night, there are teens laughing and playing.

Some photos be here! Night time in Tokyo (Shinjuku and Asakusa)...Crickets sing and lights are everywhere as people bustle around. Lanterns are hung up for the silver week festival and stands are available for grabbing some fried fish, chicken, and beer.

Daytime in Tokyo (Shibuya). Some of the more iconic sights. (Reminds me of The World Ends With You game and other fictions that took place in these areas.)

Swanky hotel I stayed in.

The bar where Lost in Translation was filmed!! (52 stories high, I think...the view was amazing.)

In Chiba, I stayed in a hotel with this view next to the bath tub. You can see the ocean! (There were also fireworks and the Odaiba ferris wheel which shone in rainbow colors in the distance.)

View from Mado Tower in Roppongi, where I worked for one day. Tokyo is an endless sea of skyscrapers.

Now...For some food! Here is my favorite sushi place (Shinjuku):

At the sushi place by Tsukiji, I had shrimp sushi...and although the shrimp was dead, the tail was still moving on rice!!!! I was scared. In the photo, you can see the tail is curling up.

One of my favorite places was this katsu place...So satisfying after a hard day of work! This is where heaven is at, in case you didn't know:

Now...For some Tokyo Game Show stuff!! (For the most part, I was either working at the booth or taking a break backstage.) I got to play the demo of Assassin's Creed 2, though.

Some cosplayers!

Booth girls are lined up at the end of the event. I overheard some middle-aged guys commenting that the the tiny booth girls are "fat"...I couldn't believe it! Grrr...some people...

That's it! Japan is the most lively and upbeat place ever! Seattle seems very quiet and gray in comparison...sigh! 

Big thanks to all the guest-bloggers and commenters during my absence! I am back now and things should be running like normal again.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Roz Morris - On Writing, Revising, and Going on Submission

Today's wisdom-sharing guest blogger is the author of NAIL YOUR NOVEL--Roz Morris! 


On writing:

I look at other novels and films that deal with similar themes and settings. I'm a great fiddler. I can't look at something without thinking about how I would do it differently. So similar stories spur me to tackle the subject in a totally different way.

I also do oodles of research, which I find is a very creative process. Ghostwriting got me used to this, as I've often had to write in the guise of people who have had very adventurous lives. For instance, I've had to write scenes where characters fly planes - which I've never done! So I had to research that, and the techicalities suggested dramas that could happen in the story.  

When I decided my litfic novel would be about a concert pianist, I knew that it didn't matter that my abilities on the piano are fairly basic. I befriended a concert pianist and asked him endless questions so that I could create the character and her life plausibly. 

I also tend to set novels in places I have never been to, because researching them builds them in my head and suggests places that could be characters' homes, or provide the backdrop for a pivotal scene. If it is a foreign country there may be natural features (such as caves) or hazards (such as poisonous snakes) that inspire me with an important story event.

This research may seem like a lot of work. After all, I could set books in places I know and in worlds I am familiar with. But if I did, I fear I would run out of ideas quickly, as I don't have the kind of life that provides me with constant dramas (for which I am grateful)! I can't imagine that many people would be interested in an endless stream of novels about a fortysomething writer living in London, I don't have that many adventures. But with research, my imagination can go on great expeditions and the sky's the limit. (Or, in fact, not even the sky is a limit...) 

On writer's block:

I certainly do get block, especially in the first draft. It's usually because I think what I'm writing is rubbish, or I've hit a blank in the plot and don't know how to sort it out. 

My remedies are to prepare a lot beforehand so the blank sheet isn't really blank. Again research helps with this. Also I write detailed synopses before I start. Some people can simply start writing and turn out 100,000 words with no plan at all, but I can't do that.

Another remedy, if I feel I'm not writing anything worthwhile, is to put some music on. It might inspire me, or it may simply ensure I remain at the desk until the album is finished - but by then, I'll usually have come up with something. I try not to be too critical of my first draft while I'm writing, but instead concentrate on living the scene for the first time and writing down what comes to mind. But I'm a lot happier when I've got a first draft written and can start to shape it properly.

Writer's block is one of those things you have to not give in to. It's like doing any job - you might not feel in the mood one day, but if it's a day when you're meant to be at work, you simply have to get on and do it! This positive attitude has turned many a gloomy writing day into a day that was surprisingly productive.

What also helps is having great blogs to visit. I always start my working day by hopping onto a friendly site. It's like having colleagues who are going through similar trials to me. The jollying advice of fellow writers is a real help, especially as they've all got projects to get on with too. It reminds me to get my nose to the grindstone and do the job.

On revising:

I've got a tool I've developed specifically for this. No matter how much of a mess my first draft is, this tool allows me to take control of it. Basically, I write a summary document of the entire first draft and assess the character arcs, plot points, pace, mood and timeline all in one go - and then I'm ready to attack the revisions with confidence. (It's quite complicated to explain, so you might want to look at my page about it.)

Going on submission:

Unfortunately, it's a waiting game. Particularly now, when publishers are being very cautious about everything they buy. Generally at the moment, if an editor hasn't said No, it's because they would probably like to say Yes or Maybe, but are waiting for a time when their company will allow them to start shopping for new work again. So no news is probably good news - although it's so frustrating to get no feedback. In a different market, if you were getting no answer from an editor it would be worth chasing, but right now if you put too much pressure on editors, you might push them into saying No for a quiet life.

Hang in there, is what I'd say. I'm quite optimistic, actually. I think that once the publishing industry has got over this very cautious period, they might decide it's time to be more adventurous in what they buy - which is possibly why so many of them are sitting on promising manuscripts.

Another piece of advice I'd give is, keep going. Always have a number of writing projects on the go. That way, you can let the selling process take as long as it takes without getting desperate and hassling people. Writing is a long game. If you can fund yourself through another book, then do it - because when you've finished it it's another one in the bank. But that's not easy.

The third piece of advice I'd give is to remind yourself that writing is a life choice. We do it because we find it rewarding, like a hobby, and if we can start to earn our living by it we're very lucky indeed. This is easy to forget if the business side seems slow, but there are a lot of people in the world whose jobs are not remotely connected with what they would choose to do on a day off. Writing's a vocation and a personal journey - I love learning more so that I can create books other people will cherish. So when progress in the outside world seems to be slow, I look at what progress I've made within the four walls of my study and how I'm developing my craft. And also what keeps me sane is the other writers I know - on line and in the flesh - who are in the same boat! 


Thank you for sharing all your wisdom, Roz! Roz is a ghost writer and has both fiction and nonficition (Nail Your Novel) on submission and is agented by Jane Conway-Gordon in London. 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tim Starkweather - On YA Books

Today we have avid reader and traveler Tim Starkweather guest blogging about the significance of YA books in his life. It's a beautifully written article and I'm really honored he wrote this for The Blog. Furthermore, his laptop died after he wrote this article...and yet, he wrote it again from memory despite his hectic schedule in Egypt! SERIOUS HONOR. Must. Read.


“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”  

~J.K. Rowling, "King's Cross," Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

   The sun is setting and I call still feel a thin sheen of dust and sweat covering my back. I’m sitting outside on a small patio overlooking a dirty city road. A pack of feral cats prowls through the day old garbage left beside a slab of crooked and battered concrete pretending to be a sidewalk, dodging and diving in and out with wide eyes as walkers, cyclists’, and cars roll by. Somewhere behind me I can hear a dull roar growing to a peak as a train approaches the station a few blocks north of me. As the last of the sun disappears and the street slides from grey to dark I sip slowly from my Turkish coffee and smile tiredly. I’m reflecting on the last 72 hours since I arrived by myself in Egypt. My name is Timothy and life was not always thus.

   Packed away in my suitcases are the normal essentials for anyone moving and living in another land. Clothes. Toothpaste. Socks. And, for me, Books. Always books. More importantly, YA Fiction. It’s comfort food for my brain, my greatest stress reliever when all else fails, and I never travel without it. When I was a child my family moved around a lot. Every two years, with clockwork precision, we would pack up and move to another part of the country or world. Books remained my constant companion through a overwhelming number of family road trips, explorations, fiascos, and transatlantic shuffles. I took to wearing oversized coats on my wiry frame, packing the pockets and sleeves with the books I was reading, sometimes as many as seven or eight. Often, while staring at a painting or scenic outpost, my mother would sigh with a little exasperation, pull my nose out of my book, and tell me to look around. That I would miss what was going on around me if I didn’t look up every once in awhile. I’d usually nod solemnly and wait for her to turn around before fishing another story out of the hidden recesses of my coat. She was right, of course. But I don’t think she could have known how lost I felt.

   I didn’t read books as a child, I lived in them. When the shear weight of the world became too much for me to handle, when one more move or last goodbye seemed like it would break me in half, I slipped into another world. A world where a lost young boy could be a proud champion or a hero. Where he could walk alongside other young people who embodied all the things he was still aching to contain: the confidence, the purpose, the security that he lacked in his current reality. Here there were best friends who would never leave, loyalty, direction, and honor. In books I found my first crush, my best friends, lessons on fidelity and friendship, the importance of finding something bigger than ourselves to live for and the loss we feel at the passing of a loved one.

   When Alanna of Trebond finally faced down the Duke of Conte, she did so with me cheering her on. When Harry walked alone into that dark forest, I practically wept in my coffee shop. And when Leslie was killed on her way to Terabithia, a part of me went with her. As young people books give us a safe place to encounter the things that scare us. They afford us the chance to grow and challenge the things around us and to find the role models for what kind of person it is that we would like to become. These encounters, occurring in a safe place, allow young people to challenge to the world around them. To meet it head on in a test run for the future, walking side by side with other children as they confront their bullies, their nightmares, and their embarrassments. 

   There are two forces in my life that shaped me into the person that I am today and will continue to become. One of them was my father. The other I found in the YA fiction I read. In books I found people my age changing the very world around them: toppling tyrants, facing down the odds, overcoming their insecurities and fear, comforting friends and loved ones, and coping with death and loss. Young people rising above their age, position, and limitations to become something greater. It remains, for me, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. 

   So as I deal with one of the biggest life changes I’ve ever had I take some time, here on this patio, in this new country, to pull some YA fiction out of my backpack. It’s nestled between my passport, journal, and maps: Cinda Williams Chima’s ‘Warrior Heir’ - the tale of a 16 year old boy who discovers that he is a member of a magical society where children are forced to compete in an epic duel to determine which house will hold dominance of their society. It’s a story of relationships and magic, of sacrifice and friendship: just the way I like them. 

   Here, even in Egypt, I am surrounded by friends. The best of friends. The kind who set the bar high and lead by example. And I’d hate to let any of them down now.


Thank you, Tim! He's got a blog about his travels in Egypt and Japan, which you can check out!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Steph Bowe - Write What You (Don't) Know

Today we have the genius 15-year-old author Steph Bowe guest blogging about writing what you don't know!


5 Tips for Writing What You (Don’t) Know

Always, when I stumble across writing advice on the internet, I see the same line: Write What You Know.

The issue for me is that I’m fifteen, and I don't know much at all. Until three years ago, I was a member of the Beanie Kids fan club. I still order off the kids menu at restaurants. I shop in the Junior section of clothes stores (though I am clinging to my childhood a lot more than other people my age). I write realistic teen fiction. Sometimes I write about things I haven’t experienced, or decide to base a novel around something I know nothing about (much research is involved). I’ve written three novels, and I’ll hopefully write many more. My writing is a place where I can get out of my comfort zone.

What I want to say is this: you don’t have to have experienced what you write. Many successful crime thrillers were written by people who were never policemen. J.K. Rowling didn’t go to Hogwarts, and Stephenie Meyer didn’t date a sparkly vampire (no matter how much she may wish she had).. Sure, the rules are different in fantasy, but what makes them ultimately successful is the writing, the characters and plot, the emotional appeal of it all. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re writing about something that’s completely foreign to you:

1. Research, research, research. Create a file on your computer and browse the internet. The library is also an incredibly useful resource. If the story is busting to come out, don’t tell yourself you have to research everything first. You can research as you go. And don’t research for months on end – the actual writing is the important bit. You’ll know when you have enough information, and it’s worth getting a good book on your preferred topic so that you can look something up when you’re stuck on the novel instead of getting distracted on the internet by your emails and Twitter (I am guilty of tweeting instead of writing. I confess!)

2. If possible, get someone knowledgeable to read your book. Just as important as your beta-readers! Get a doctor friend to read your medical thriller, or a lawyer to read your courtroom drama. It’s even better if you can call up these people as you write, so that when you think you’re completely off track, they can reassure you (and even if you are writing about something you know, a friend to call and talk to when you get stuck, or think you’re terrible, is definitely a must for most writers. In general, we doubt ourselves a lot).

3. Don’t forget about your characters and plot! You can’t support a novel on a theme alone, and way too often I’ve read teen books with little substance – it’s just a book about [insert pertinent issue to teens here]. First and foremost, write a novel that will satisfy readers. (I find it best to imagine myself as the reader, and try and be objective about it.)

4. Make sure there’s emotional pull. You’ve decided to write a story about a mother dying of breast cancer. You haven’t personally known any cancer sufferers, but you know a doctor whose willing to fact check for you, and you’ve done all the research.. The most important thing here is that your novel doesn’t fall flat when it comes to emotion – you don’t have to have experienced that to know the emotions it would evoke, and these should be central to your novel (mainly character-driven novels). The way a novel makes me feel determines whether or not I enjoy it – it doesn’t matter if that emotion is sadness or happiness, it just has to be strong.

5. Above all else, tell a great story. Kind of revisiting 3 and 4 here, but it should be repeated: tell the story you want to tell, with characters that demand to be written. Don’t think about whether it will fit in the market, or whether you should put it off until the economy improves. If you have that passion, and if you have that drive, write your novel, and make it the best it can possibly be.

Good luck! Many thanks to the amazingly talented Realm for giving me the opportunity to write this guest post.


Thank you, Steph! She has blog called Hey, Teenager of The Year! (My interview is on there too!)

UPDATE: Steph just signed with agent Ginger Clark after three offers!!! GO STEPH! Congratulations!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weronika Janczuk - On Writing and Reading

Today author Weronika Janczuk is guest blogging to share her love of books with us! She has an awesome blog where she shares thoughtful posts and details about her internship over at Flux. Be sure to check it out! 

Thank you for joining us today, Weronika. Now...onto the article!


Writing and reading are the two main hobbies-turned-passions in my life. An unidentifiable moment sparked the writing flare within me, and I am forever thankful that before I ever set pen to paper with the object of writing in mind, I read for hours, completing hundreds of books over the course of a year. Over the last six years or so—the years of my growth as a writer and reader—two particular stories stand out in my mind, one a book I read, another one that I wrote.

As a sixth grader, I purchased EAST by Edith Pattou at a conference dedicated to young writers. As written by Jennifer Hubert, it tells the story of “Nymah Rose, the last daughter of eight siblings born to a poor mapmaker and his superstitious wife, as a North-born baby. It is said that North-born babies are wild, unpredictable, intelligent, and destined to break their mothers' hearts because they all leave hearth and home to travel to the far ends of the earth. To keep her close, Rose’s mother lied and told her she had been born of the obedient and pliable East. But destiny cannot be denied. One day, a great white bear comes to the mapmaker’s door to claim Rose’s birthright. Everything that comes after, as richly imagined by author Edith Pattou, is the basis for one of the most epic romantic fantasies ever told.”

I fell in love with Pattou’s language, imagery, and style, and absolutely adored both Rose and the bear. I was young, and this romance instilled in me forever a sense of understanding of what shapes a person’s character. When I came back to it two years later, I didn’t expect to so easily fall in love with the book all over again, but I did, cementing it as one of my all-time favorites. At that point I was already an ‘official’ aspiring writer, which made the book even more special—I took away life lessons as a reader and later, as a writer, a message about quality storytelling.

I think every writer experiences a book that changes them as people and sets a precedent for what they will do as writers, makers of worlds and events and lives and dreams. Though in my writing now I use a different P.O.V. and write in a different genre, Pattou’s blurring of all things good stays in the back of my mind, and it makes one of my most recent projects a defining one. When I sat down to write THE SUMMER OF RED GERANIUMS, a YA tale about two girls and a boy—a triangle of friends, two of which later fall in love—I kept in mind how she took two characters , loving but mysterious and flawed, and injected my own characters with those traits.

The project ended as a mess. Unfixable, I think. But it was an experience that I would never trade for anything because I saw the first signs of technique develop in the stories I was telling, and I wrote from both a character’s perspective and my own, imagining reader reactions, trying to get those who would read to fall in love with the stories of Ebba, Bartosz, and Katarzyna, an American and two Polish youth in a world not their own. It’s the novel I wrote to learn how to fix things, and I’m well on my way to something better, I think.

These endless possibilities are why I write and why I read, and why I continue to urge readers to never stop reading, and writers to read, write, repeat. Each and every one of us finds the gem that spurs us to move forward with the paths we choose, and when that gem teaches us something, too, the experience is rewarding beyond belief.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lisa and Laura Roecker - Top 5 Ways to Deal with Rejection

Today the fabulous authors Lisa and Laura Roecker are guest blogging about dealing with rejection--a common thing for many authors...Especially this time of the year when so many of us go on submission! 


Dealing With Rejection: A Five Step Process

Rejection is a fact of every writer's life. Whether you're on the query-go-round, submitting to editors or stalking the interwebs for reviews on your book, writers are always going to have to deal with people who don't love or even like your work.

We've been rejected. A lot. In fact, we've got black belts in the fine art of dealing with rejection, so here are some tips for surviving without cutting your ear off or something:

Step 1: Depression
Traditionally when we're dealing with rejections of any sort we like to maneuver ourselves into the fetal position and cry. While we've found this technique to be somewhat unproductive it is an important step in the process. You absolutely need to give yourself a little bit of time to wallow. The thing about rejection is that it's always personal and it almost always hurts. So go ahead and eat that pint of ice cream or call your mom and cry. Rejection is tough. You deserve it.

Step 2: Anger
After we've polished off all the ice cream and spent a day or two mooning around, we typically start to get a little angry. I mean, who does the rejector think they are anyways? What do they really know about writing? Clearly they have no taste and will spend the rest of their lives regretting their decision to reject our work. You'll be tempted to do something rash when you're in the anger stage, but do yourself a favor and resist that urge. Telling an agent or editor to suck it isn't going to change their opinion of your work and writing a scathing response to that nasty book reviewer on Amazon isn't going to make readers buy your book, you'll just look like a jack hole. Above all things try not to look like a jack hole, ok? It's just not worth it.

Step 3: Acceptance
Once you're past depression and anger you start to accept the rejection. You begin to realize that maybe that editor or agent just wasn't a good fit for you. You remind yourself that good writing is subjective. Sometimes after we've been rejected we like to look up one of our favorite books on Amazon and read the one star reviews. Bottom line: a book may be a critical masterpiece or a NY Times Bestseller, but there will always be people that hate it. Rest assured that you're in good company.

Step 4: Growth 
After you've managed to accept the rejection, you'll finally be ready to give it an objective read and see if you can learn anything from it. This is one of the most important steps in the process. Obviously, not every rejection is going to offer productive feedback, but every rejection can be a learning experience. When you're ready, take a good long look at the rejection and try to figure out what you can take away from it. When we racked up rejections from agents back when we queried our first (and doomed) novel we pretty much taught ourselves to write based on the feedback from agents. The right kind of rejections will help you grow as a writer if you let them.

Step 5: The Mental Finger
Theoretically after you've gone through the first 4 stages in the process enough times you'll find success as a writer. You'll land a great agent, finally get your book published and maybe even earn yourself a starred review. We've all heard the stories about editors or agents who regret not seeing the potential in Harry Potter or The Princess Diaries and it's sort of lovely to think of the shoe being on the other foot. After all that hard work you're definitely entitled to some gloating, but just make sure you gloat quietly. Go ahead and mentally flip them all off. You know you want to. Besides, there's a good chance you'll be starting back at Step 1 after you've written the next book, so you might as well enjoy it while you can. 


Thank you, Lisa and Laura!

Lisa and Laura are authors of the MG mystery series about Kate Lowry. (Currently on submission.) They have a really fun blog which you should all check out! I interviewed the two a while back--another thing to see if you missed it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Off to TOKYO!!

About to embark on a ten-hour flight! I'm excited--haven't been to Japan in four years. I have a total of four hotels to switch around. I'll be hanging out in Shinjuku, Harajuku, Roppongi, Chiba, and other places. If you're gonna be at Tokyo Game Show, stop by the L4D2 booth to say hi! 

Question for you all while I'm away: What would you like to see more of on The Blog? It can be related to drawing, writing, or more ways to help readers and authors. I'll be running more interviews upon my return. Got some majorly awesome authors coming up! 

There will be guest blogs every few days, so check 'em out. There are really nice articles from the talented participants! (Thank you, all.) Be back on the 28th! Cheers!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I hope you're all getting in the mood for Halloween next month! Today we have something a bit on the spooky side! Courtney Allison Moulton currently has a YA fantasy about death reapers out on submission! She is represented by Elizabeth Jote.

The illustration I drew is of the 17-year-old MC, Ellie. The book has such an iconic title, I wanted the drawing to be iconic too. When Courtney saw this, she wrote, "Ellie looks so ready to whoop some reaper ass." GO, ELLIE!

1) What is MY SOUL TO REAP about? 

MY SOUL TO REAP is the 100,000 word first installment in a young adult fantasy trilogy. 

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers--monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell--she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between Seraphim and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul. 

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of fighting the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her--an assassin who has already killed her once. 

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting extracurriculars, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to destroy Ellie's soul forever, ending her rebirth cycle. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives--including truths that may be too frightening to remember. 

2) What inspired you to write about death reapers? 

Well, I've always loved monsters, especially really scary ones. When I was plotting the book, I knew I wanted to make it about an eternal war between angels and demons, but I needed an in-between monster to fight the war in the mortal world and control the fate of human souls. So, I ended up inventing my own versions of Grim Reapers who come in many different forms from SUV-sized bear-like reapers to skeletal dinosaurid creatures that fly. These reapers--the demonic reapers--are descendants of the offspring between the Fallen angels who became demons in Hell. There are also angelic reapers who are far less frightening, but no less powerful, and are descendants of the offspring of the Grigori angels--Fallen angels who did not become demons and instead became earthbound because they weren't as nasty. 

3) How do you go about designing your characters? 

When designing a reaper, I pick the scariest, most twisted things I can come up with and create freaks. I like to combine different aspects of different animals and blend them together so the creation is almost seamless and not something that looks like a chimera. These aspects are things like shark teeth, horns, wings, talons, and tails on shapeshifting creatures that can otherwise resemble human beings. When making a monster scary, it's also important for them to act scary and not just look it. I think that really makes the monster complete. To be honest, Freddy Krueger wouldn't be so scary if he used those knife fingers to make flower arrangements. 

4) What's your advice on writing a first draft? 

Strangely, I'm very gullible and I trick myself into writing more than I need to every day. Sometimes writers can get intimidated when they think too hard about how long their novel is going to be. I mean, the average book is 80,000 words or so, and (holy crap) that is a lot of words. In school, it's a struggle to write a 3,000 
word term paper (mostly because those suck). A single novel is like 999,999 term papers (only way more fun, but still a lot of work. Also, I'm a writer and therefore incapable of doing basic math). For me, I set small goals like 2k words a day. That is easy enough, right? When you write twice as many words as your small daily goal, that's a great feeling. It makes you feel more confident about all those tens of thousands of words you'll be writing to finish that book. I work with word count widgets and they are always set 2k words more than what I actually have written, and that way I glance at my widget and think, "Wow, this goal isn't far off. This should be a piece of cake to reach that next milestone!" By sticking to this, I wrote the first draft of MY SOUL TO REAP in 4.5 weeks. I also work on a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline so there's never a point when I'm writing a book that I'm stuck not knowing what will happen next. 

5) Writing about death reapers, you must have discovered intriguing things about them as you delved into the concept. Can you tell us a bit about your discovery? (Without spoilers, of course!) 

I did! Religious studies, to me, are extremely fascinating and pretty darn cool. Much of the reaper mythology in my book is derived from Old Testament texts and Jewish Angelology, with huge twists of course. I'd read that Lilith (the queen of demons) and Sammael (an angel of death) had evil monster-babies together, and I decided they would be evil people-eating soul-stealing monster-babies in my book. I studied a lot about different angels and their purposes and powers, as well as their relationship with humans. My heroine, Ellie, also has her origins very much entwined with the world of reapers, demons, and angels. 

Thank you for all the great informative answers, Courtney!



Enjoyed this interview? If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more info.