Interview with Avon Van Hassel

Hey all!
One of the cool things about being an author is getting to cheer on my friends and celebrate their accomplishments. Today, I’m excited to share a little bit about up and coming author Avon Van Hassel, who is writing a series that all you CARVER fans would love! She’ll be revealing her covers on social media today, and you’ll be able to find her books on Amazon as well. Here is my interview with AVH in celebration of her BEANSELLER series!

1. MAGIC BEANS and GOLDEN reimagine fairy tales (both well-known and yet to be discovered by Disneyophiles) from untold perspectives! What are some of the fairy tales your readers can expect to see in your stories?
Magic Beans centres around the man who sold Jack the beans that would become the beanstalk, so obviously, that one will be very prominent. Golden focuses more on the back story of the magic golden harp that Jack finds on the giants’ cloud, but also looks at the Princess and the Pea, the Golden Goose, the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, and Goose Girl. The Grimms had a thing for geese, it seems. There are also other, subtler references, as almost everyone is either a fairy tale character or based on real-life historical figures. Let’s see how many you can guess 😉

2. Until I read MAGIC BEANS, I had never seen JACK AND THE BEANSTALK told from the perspective of the beansellers before! What inspired you to approach it from that angle?
Honestly, there was a Tumblr post about how Jack is actually the least interesting character in Jack and the Beanstalk. Who is this mysterious man, running around with a bag of magic beans? How did he come by them, and why is he willing to trade them for a sick old cow?
That NaNoWriMo, I had been planning a YA colonial spy thriller, but I saw that post and the idea festered. I wrote the whole first draft in two weeks!

3. One of your villains, The Spider Queen, is absolutely terrifying for arachnophobes like me. Tell us about her! Is she inspired by anybody in literature (or even real life)?
She was actually inspired by a ring! I had gotten a ring in the Halloween section of Target that was this huge jewelled spider that spanned three fingers. I was thinking of who my villain would be, and I looked down at this ring, kinda spacing out, you know, and I thought, ‘Hey! Lots of people hate spiders! That’ll scare ’em!’ And it did, lol. My poor betas, so many of them are terrified of spiders…
But I find the true mark of a good villain is not that they’re just scary, but that they have a sympathetic side. That you can see someone innocent, maybe even yourself, becoming a villain, if the right button is pushed. So I tried hard not to make her a cartoonish villain, just relying on arachnophobia, but an actual person who has rationale for the things that she does.

4. What’s been on your reading list this year? Any recent favorites you can recommend for fantasy fans?
A friend of mine and I are doing a challenge called 12 Meses 12 Libros (12 Months 12 books–The challenge is in Spanish, but I posted a translation on my blog). Basically, each month has a theme, and you have to read a book according to that theme. So far, I have read:
The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Touch the Dark, by Karen Chance
Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw
The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho
The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert
and I’m currently reading Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
So, obviously a wide range from classics, to supernatural spies, to satire, to adventure, to fairy tales. It’s been a wild ride. For fans of fantasy, I deeply recommend The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert. I am OBSESSED. It definitely has a dark, twisted real-life fairy tale feel that gets under your skin and stays there. Albert has a wonderfully visceral writing style that captivated me on an emotional level, the likes of which only a few writers have ever done. Plus she’s planning a sequel and a collection of original fairy tales to be companions to The Hazel Wood, so naturally I’m refreshing her author page every few minutes to see if she’s published yet.
In a more abstract sense, Pygmalion and The Alchemist have a fairy tale tone to them, both with epic journey themes, lots of symbolic characters, and unlikely situations. Also highly quotable, and feature some decent strong women.
As for the others I read, I think fantasy fans could also get into Karen Chance, if vampire romances and time travel are your thing. Again, very well written, and very well researched, as well as creating her own layer of vampire mythology. Daniel O’Malley is refreshingly proficient at writing a strong female, in first person perspective, no less! The Rook is about superhuman spies basically keeping the lid on the supernatural world in the UK. It is VERY meaty, VERY weird, but also VERY funny. I recommend it.
I think history has pretty much said anything I could about Alice, Jim, and Mr Gulliver, lol.

5. You and I both found our footing as writers on an online community called Scribophile! Tell us how Scribophile helped you, and are there any other resources you’d recommend to writers who are looking to publish one day?
Scribophile helped me immensely. Not least by giving me the confidence to show my work to other people. The basic theory behind it is that your friends and family may want to help you, but it’s hard for them to give you unvarnished opinions and advice because they don’t want to hurt you. Strangers don’t have that issue. It also is based on the principle of giving in order to receive. You have to critique a lot of work before you can put your own work up for critique. It’s a show of good faith, but it also has the side effect of putting you into contact with quite a lot of what’s out there, and getting involved in the writing community as a group.
One area where yours and my experience differed, I believe, is that I was a member of a pretty strenuous critique group for about two years. We were called the Candied Sea Urchins, and we were a group of usually 6 at any one time, who were expected to post a chapter a week as well as critique each other’s work in that time. So you posted a chapter and critiqued 5 chapters on top of that. The obvious downside to that was, of course, getting everyone’s stories mixed up, and also only reading one chapter a week, if you were on time. But the huge upside was that you produced at least one chapter a week! And a chapter, according to the guidelines of that group, was three thousand words, give or take. So we got a lot of writing done at a pretty good clip.
Scrib helped keep me to a schedule, but the group itself helped me really see what is necessary to the narrative, and they helped me write more clearly. It’s one thing to write for yourself. You know what you’re trying to say and where everything is going. But it does help to have someone say, ‘this bit makes no sense.’  And over time, you do become friends with the teammates, but it’s a friendship built on frank and honest feedback, so you never have to worry about whether or not they’re holding back their opinion.
The other resources I would recommend that have helped me are a book called the Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi; a book called Story Structure Architect, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D.; and a book called The Word Loss Diet, by Rayne Hall. I truly have all three books open when I am writing.

6. You and I talked a lot about “fan casting” for our books! Can you share a bit about who your dream cast would be for the epic MAGIC BEANS Netflix series one day?
I have to be honest, in my head, I have a terrible time picturing faces. This is the first time ever, be it writing a book or a character sheet for D&D, that I’ve actually had faces to work with, so they’re pretty special to me. Alois was partially inspired by a British actor named Tom Burke, who is probably best known as Athos in the BBC Musketeers, and is currently playing Cormoran Strike (you know, the detective books JK Rowling wrote). Sulat was inspired from the start by Sonequa Martin-Green. At the time, I’d only seen her as Tamara on Once Upon a Time, but I did start watching the Walking Dead to see if Sasha Williams was anything like my Sulat. She kind of is, but not as much as Star Trek’s Michael Burnham, as she is these days. Johanne, the third point on my Trinity, was inspired by a portrait, actually, called the Honourable Mrs Graham, by Thomas Gainsborough. (She was a fascinating woman,you should look her up) Later, I found my face actress for her, another British actress named Sophia Myles, best known as Madame de Pompadour in the Doctor Who episode, The Girl in the Fireplace.

7. The Carver has his knife and the Ivory Queen has her mirrors. What magical artifacts can you tease for MAGIC BEANS and GOLDEN?
Well, the magic beans are a bit obvious, aren’t they? There are also snakebite stones, which allow the user to detect enchantments (You might recognise something similar from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline–they’re both based on common fairy tale items called Adder Stones, as well as several stones from Celtic lore); a magic hairbrush that can transfer magical ability from one person to another; the magic harp itself; and a magic ladder that is the cause of all this trouble.

8. You have other plans in mind for MAGIC BEANS related merch, correct? Tell us about your crafts outside of your writing time and how they tie into your stories!
I’m a big fan of candles and cosmetics, as well as historical foods and handicrafts! I have an Etsy shop set up, called Avon Van Hassel Designs. I’m a little embarrassed about the lighting and composition of the photos, but I promise the quality of the actual products is good! At the moment, I have a few soaps, perfumes, and homewares posted, but I plan to branch into other areas, as well and putting together some historical handicrafts like tea caddies and embroidery. We’ll see where my whims take me.
Also, as teased in my last cover reveal party, I have been working with a tea blender, The Forest Witch, also on Etsy, who has made me two custom tea blends to tie in with my work! One is called Johanne, and it was inspired by a scene in Golden; and the other is called The Novelist, and it is my signature blend.

9. Can you tease what you might be working on next?
I intend this book to be a ten-novel series, with short stories and novellas nestled between the books. The novellas following Golden are called Country Dances, The Martinette, UnderDressed, and Heroes and Villains. The next novel be more centred on Sulat than Alois and is called Siren Song. Guess which fairy tale I’ll be twisting with that one! The next books planned after that are called Sweet Dreams, Big Teeth, and Huff and Puff. They’re all still in the planning stages, so it’ll be a while before they’re ready to go.

10. Pitch the Beanseller Saga to us as a haiku!
The beans are trouble
But so is everything else
Snarky thieves with guns

 

San Diego Comic Con Recap: 2018!

Hey Friends,

If you’ve been keeping up with anything “pop culture” this week, be it through Entertainment Weekly, the Conan show, or even just your Facebook timeline, I’m sure you know my favorite “holiday” just ended: San Diego Comic Con!

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Every year has had its share of amazing memories, and it’s hard to pick a favorite moment since I started going in 2015. This year, I don’t even know if I can pick a favorite day! As always, I left feeling both exhausted and rejuvenated. My body is tired, but my heart and mind are filled with love for the power of creativity–love for a yearly phenomenon in which thousands of people of all ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and life stories come together to share a creative passion. Maybe that’s for books, film, graphic arts, or any of the various rabbit holes of SDCC that I probably haven’t even explored: gaming, tech, cosplay, the scientific panels, etc.

Here are some of the highlights from my fourth year at SDCC.

Wednesday

“Preview day”! I wasn’t a badge holder for Preview Day, but as a volunteer, I got to work the Art Show! I wasn’t allowed to snap photos for obvious reasons, but there was at least one artist whose work I was sure I’d seen before, and it was fun getting to help him unload his van and carry his paintings to the Marriott. There was also an interesting man who made wooden robot figurines and spent most of his time talking to them. I guess all of us creative types are strange in our own ways?

When I finished my shift, I walked around San Diego a bit and scoped out the off-sites and wraps they were setting up for the weekend!

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Thursday

The real “day one”! I actually spent a lot of time retracing some of those off-sites once they opened, and there were a lot of really great ones this year. The Good Place was one of my favorites. You start with a questionnaire about your morals: Yes, I have spoiled a movie for someone before (sorry…); No, I have NEVER reheated fish in an office microwave, how could you even accuse me of such a thing?! Based on my answers, I got to move into The Good Place where a merry-go-round, a super chipper mailman, a cupcake lady, and a bunch of other “neighbors” were there to welcome us to their neighborhood. Among them was a lady who told me she was supposed to go to the Bad Place and she needed my help keeping her secret, and if she could just see my phone, she needed to take a photo of me to commemorate my time in The Good Place. When I got that phone back, I had 8 selfies just like this:

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And then they all started fighting and it turns out we weren’t supposed to be in The Good Place at all, so we had to leave before the Architect came to kick us out. Darn.

Amazon also promoted the heck out of the upcoming Jack Ryan show, with two huge building wraps and a HUGE off-site I only scraped the surface of. Seriously, they brought their A-game, with a huge escape room where you could win a Fire stick just for participating, an “analyst physical training” course where 100 people a day completed a VR obstacle course that ended in them zip-lining out of a helicopter, and a bazaar where if you completed a puzzle, they’d give you a cool bag and a sweet water bottle. They also gave out free ice cream, water bottles, and fruit. So yeah, they really want you to watch Jack Ryan, and because John Krasinski is awesome, I was already planning on watching it anyway!

Oh! And John Barrowman from Arrow and Doctor Who signed an autograph for me! Super nice guy!

Friday

Friday was so much fun! This was the day I saw a very dedicated group of cosplayers dressed like the Scooby-Doo gang, and overheard this candid conversation:

  • Fred: *yawns* “So what do you guys think? Do we wanna do Ghost Busters first?”
  • Daphne: “Sure! That’s a thing we want to do, right?”
  • Shaggy: “I’m gonna check out the taco food truck. I’ll meet you there.”

I also got to be in the “Marvel Group Hug.” Full disclosure, group physical contact with a bunch of strangers sounded terrible to me, but I saw “free shirt!” on the sign and registered right away. It turns out this Group Hug wasn’t a physical embrace but a simple discussion with about 10 other people and a Marvel rep so we could sort out all of our “feels” about Infinity War. We discussed that “I don’t wanna go” scene, the fate of the Guardians, Bearded Cap vs. Non-Bearded Cap, and then the rep gave us donuts and shirts and showed us a deleted scene from the movie. Yay! I also had to sign a bunch of releases and sit by cameras and stuff, so watch for me on the Blu-Ray extras! (Just kidding–I don’t know what Marvel Studios is doing with the footage!)

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I also saw a few panels in Ballroom 20 that day: Sissy Spacek and Bill Skaarsgard for Castle Rock, a new Stephen King show coming to Hulu, and the “Warriors of Prime Time” panel featuring Benedict Wong, Jay Hernandez, Santiago Cabrera, and a few others.

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Saturday

Three highlights from Saturday:

  1. The Manifest premiere and panel featuring Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh. The pilot was amazing, and this is a show I’m going to get really into this fall! I have a feeling it’s going to resonate with LOST fans.
  2. I played a 15-minute demo of Kingdom Hearts III, specifically the intro to the Toy Story world! I confess the controls felt a little weird at times and felt very demo-ish (it was also XBox which I’m not used to), but the magic was all about diving back into this universe and dusting off those memories of the first time I played Kingdom Hearts as a 5th grader. I’m 27 now, and the dude next to me looked like my physician and had to have been at least 40. We’ve been waiting all our lives to start bashing Heartless again!
  3. I made it into Hall H for two panels! The first was all about “Women Who Kick Ass,” featuring Chloe Bennett, Amandla Stenberg, Regina King, Jodie Whitaker, and Camila Mendez, and the following panel was all about Deadpool 2 and the “super duper extended cut” they’ll be releasing soon. Seeing Ryan Reynolds was probably the highlight this year!

Overall

There’s tons of great programming on Sunday as well, but I had to catch an early flight and opt out of the last day! I don’t even think I’ve scratched the surface of everything that happened this weekend! I didn’t even mention that I was signed up for a scavenger hunt and placed around 17 out of 120 participants. There were close to 200 tasks, ranging from easy to hard to embarrassing:

  • Easy: “Pose with a Deadpool cosplayer!” (This is actually kind of hard once you start looking for them… otherwise they’re everywhere.)
  • Slightly harder: “Get arrested by a Stormtrooper.”
  • Hard: “Kill Jon Snow.” (He actually wasn’t that big of a cosplay this year!)
  • Embarrassing: “Start a rousing sing-a-long of the “500 Miles” song.” “Take an awkward prom photo in front of the convention center!”
  • Impossible: “Spot a celebrity in a hotel elevator. Take a selfie with them.”

Would do the hunt again, hands-down!

This isn’t the rest of the photos, but I think this assortment summarizes SDCC 2018 quite nicely. Until next year!

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The Hummingbird v. 2.0: Cover Reveal #3!

Hey friends!

I’ll cut right to the fun stuff: You’ve already seen the first two covers for the new and improved Carver Trilogy, and all week long I’ve been itching to release the third and final cover! I’m just going to drop it right here for ya:

Here we have a glimpse of Neverland, pirate ships, a dragon, some of the towers from Avoria’s Citadel, and perhaps my favorite element of this cover: We finally have a look at Enzo himself!

The books themselves are in formatting, and once that step is complete, I’ll be working to hard to get these live and ready for your hands. I have a feeling they’re going to look pretty awesome in person, especially when you put them all together!

This week to celebrate the release of all three covers, I’m giving away a $5 Amazon credit to one random winner. Entry is simple:

  1. Follow my Facebook page.
  2. Add ROSES IN THE DRAGON’S DEN, my upcoming February release, to your Goodreads list.
  3. Comment on this blog post and tell me what your favorite fairy tale retelling is, or any fairy tale/myth that you would like to see retold in the future! Or, just tell me what you think of these covers!!

I will choose a winner in a week!

Happy reading!

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The Unseen v. 2.0: Cover #2!

I had an exciting challenge writing THE UNSEEN.

In addition to the fact that I’d never written a sequel before and needed to raise the stakes, my biggest challenge had to do with the setting and tone of the book. While the first book takes place in an original town filled with familiar characters, book two is set primarily in a place we’ve all heard of: Wonderland!

Playing with a familiar territory is even scarier than playing in uncharted waters. The struggle an author faces is: How do I do something brand new while also being faithful to what Wonderland represents? Whimsy, madness, a little darkness, wonder . . .

So it makes me so happy to see that this new cover captures all of that beautifully!

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I think this one, like the first cover, really does a great job of capturing the soul of this series. I look at this and I can clearly imagine Enzo and Rosana’s arrival in Wondertown, the epic struggle in the plains, and for the first time on a cover, we’re getting a symbol for Clocher de Pierre, the bell tower itself!

And how ’bout that little silhouette of the King of Hearts staring out at us from underneath? Yikes . . . that guy’s trouble.

As promised, I’m going to give out the first set of character cards to someone who shared the first cover, and this time I need to congratulate Jeanette Neff! Congrats Jeanette!

I’ll give you all another shot this week if you didn’t win! This time all you have to do is enter THIS RAFFLECOPTER, and Lady Fortune will do the rest!

What do you think of the cover?! What do you think we’ll see on the third and final reveal next Tuesday for THE HUMMINGBIRD?

Happy reading, book lovers!

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The Carver v. 2.0: Cover Reveal #1!

Good morning, friends!

I know I’ve been promising you all an update on the new branding and re-release of THE CARVER for a couple months now, and I was going to hold off until I closed the sales for the old cover and made my Make A Wish donation, but well, I just couldn’t hold it any longer! How ’bout now?

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Things I love about this cover:

  • The way the New York skyline bleeds into The Woodlands, signifying that we’re in our own backyard and an uncharted one at the same time, that this story spans entire worlds near and far.
  • That tiny silhouette against the Empire State Building.
  • The strange dark blue pattern, signaling that this is not an everyday story and that something dark and epic is about to go down…
  • The new font, dark enough to be mysterious; whimsical enough to say, “But don’t take this too seriously 😉
  • The everything though.

This was done by the amazing Kim G and is only the first of three! I’ll be revealing one new cover every Tuesday in the month of June, so come back on the 19th for THE UNSEEN!

Still waiting on an official timeline for the re-release, but I am going to make every effort to have this out by September for you to hold in your hands! I promise to keep you posted!

In the meantime, I’m giving you an opportunity to win one of three sets of eight character trading cards for my next book, ROSES IN THE DRAGON’S DEN! I’ll post a new challenge with every reveal, though most of them will involve sharing and following 🙂 This week, all you have to do for a chance to win is:

  1. Be following me on Facebook and/or Instagram!
  2. Comment on the cover reveal post on Facebook or Instagram!
  3. Share the cover on your own Facebook or Instagram, and
  4. Tag me in your post!

Pretty easy, right? Every week, in June, one person will win a set of trading cards, which contain a clue about one surviving character from THE CARVER TRILOGY who will make an appearance in ROSES. Yes, these books share a universe! Here’s one of the new characters!

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Carlos “Charlie” Rosas is one of the main protagonists in ROSES IN THE DRAGON’S DEN. He’s twelve years old, lives in Tucson, AZ, and might have been having a much better summer if he weren’t stuck having to rescue his Uncle Diego from a dangerous fire-breathing monster. It’s safe to say his summer is anything but boring, though. Right?

What do you all think of the new cover, and of this new character reveal? Feel free to sound off in the comments! Happy Reading!

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The Carver’s Last Hurrah!

Howdy chums!

I hope everybody had a nice weekend and had the opportunity to do something nice on Memorial Day. Shout-out to our heroes and veterans out there! We thank you for your service!

I have so much I want to tell you today, especially about Phoenix Comic Fest! If I get into a full recap, I’ll be sitting here writing for days and you’ll likely get super bored, so here’s the quick version:

  1. I sold a lot of books and ate a lot of Mexican food, oh and a little bit of Thai cuisine, too. Katie Salidas and Jenna Johnson are the most excellent con crew I can think of off the top of my head!
  2. Michael Rooker walked into our booth just because he can do that and he’s awesome. It happened so fast that I didn’t get a picture with him, although I DID offer him a slice of pizza . . .
  3. Dr. Strange, Star-Lord, and Bob Ross Deadpool seem to be the most popular cosplay right now, finally edging out Ledger Joker, Leto Joker, and Jon Snow. But only by a little! Although, I have to say I think this Hogwarts crew was my personal favorite . . . Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing

And with the end of Comic Fest, it’s also the end of a wonderful era: The original print run for The Carver is at an end. I am now actively phasing out the mirror covers, and I recently got my first preview of the new look. I promise you it’s phenomenal–it’s very different and very new, while also holding true to the thematic mood and overall feel of the book. A VERY worthy and replacement for the original branding I loved so much!

For now though, I need to phase out the rest of my stock and get the original books into good hands: yours! As a last hurrah for the stock, I am offering signed and personalized copies, and even some annotated copies for readers who want a glimpse into my thought process and some additional commentary. These will make great gifts and summer reading, and for every order placed on or before June 15, I am pledging to donate half the proceeds (after the cost of shipping) to Make A Wish ArizonaSo, every order supports an indie writer, a child who could use a wish right now, and gives you a fun beach read for the summer. It’s like having a triple chocolate cake all to yourself, with none of the guilt and all of the yum!

You can order HERE while supplies last. Orders are first-come-first-served, and I should tell you that at the time I am writing this, there are only three copies of The Hummingbird left! So if you’re looking for a full set or the finale on its own, order fast! I’ll be following up with PayPal invoices a day or two later 🙂

Lastly, my newsletter subscribers will be the first to see the new cover VERY SOON, so if you’re not on the official newsletter (it’s different from this blog and just a little more exclusive!), you can subscribe here!

Happy Reading!

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Phoenix Comic Fest!

Hello Friends!

It’s SUMMER! (At least, I’m calling it summer because graduations are happening. If you’re a part of one of them, congrats!) And for me, that means three things:

  1. I need to have my annual viewing of 500 Days of Summer soon. It’s tradition.
  2. An exciting rebranding of THE CARVER is around the corner…
  3. It’s COMIC CON SEASON!

Let’s break down this magical 3rd item really quick: Next week, Arizona nerds like me are invading Phoenix for 4 days of cosplay, fanboy/girling, and camaraderie. This will be my first year actually participating as an author, and I’m very excited to share the table with two great friends of mine. I hope if you’re in Arizona, that you’ll stop by booth #696 and see us next week. I’m bringing three HUGE boxes of books with me, and I’d love to go home with zero 🙂

Until then, meet my booth mates!

First is the jovial Jenna E Johnson!

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Q: Where are you from?

A: The Central Coast of California (where my Otherworld Series is set, as well as the inspiration for the geography of my Oescienne series).

Q: What do you write?

A: Fantasy.  More specifically, young adult (and adult) paranormal romance and epic fantasy.  I currently have two series published.  The first is the Legend of Oescienne series, which tells the story of Jahrra, a human infant found and raised by dragons in a world where her kind no longer exist.  The Oescienne books are for middle grade readers but have been enjoyed by fans of Eragon, The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. Besides the Legend of Oescienne, I’ve also written the Otherworld series.  This series begins with Faelorehn and tells the story of Meghan Elam, a high school junior who has always seen and heard strange things while growing up.  In Faelorehn she meets a mysterious young man who informs her she is from the Celtic Otherworld.  The Otherworld series is perfect for fans of Twilight, The Mortal Instruments, and A Court of Thorns and Roses.  If you haven’t read Faelorehn or The Finding (the first book of the Oescienne series), you can get those for FREE where ebooks are sold.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: All kinds of writing projects!  I’m working on a sequel trilogy to follow the original Otherworld Trilogy (this one will be told from Cade’s perspective and will pick up where Luathara left off), the fifth and final book in my Oescienne series (that one’s done and is currently with my Beta Readers and editor, so look for it this summer), a BRAND NEW fantasy trilogy (keeping hush-hush about this because I’m going to seek traditional publication for this one – fingers crossed!), the sequel to Robyn’s book (to follow Lorehnin and Caelihn), the sequels to my new Draghans of Firiehn series (follow ups to Flame and Form), AND a handful of short stories for future anthology collections.  It seems like I’m not getting much done, but really, I am ;).

Q: Why do you write?

A: Because I would go insane if I didn’t.  Imagine walking around every day with all these characters in your head chatting and going on adventures.  It’s my job to tell their story and I have so much fun doing so.

Q: Tell us some of your favorite things …

A: Cold, rainy days, British-style tea (made strong with milk and honey), spending time outside just observing nature or being among the trees (they have souls, I know it).  I love the critters most people despise (crows and ravens, spiders, snakes, scorpions, bats etc.).  I’m an introvert and prefer lots of alone time, but LOVE interacting with my readers at events (you guys are my kind of people!).  When people call me ‘weird’, I take it as a compliment.  I’m a big Sherlock fan and will put on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – Extended Edition when I’m working on non-writing stuff (formatting, creating graphics etc.).  I have a degree in Art Practice with a minor in Celtic Studies (hence the heavy Celtic influence in my books ;)).  I try to schedule a camping trip to Yosemite National Park (in the valley) every year if I can manage it – that’s where I go to recharge my soul.  If I could live anywhere else other than California, I’d probably move to Ireland or Scotland.

Jacob here: Take me with you to Ireland! Or Scotland. Have always wanted to see the area and hang out with people with cool accents!

Follow me Online

www.jennaelizabethjohnson.com
www.facebook.com/authorjejohnson
www.goodreads.com/authorjejohnson
www.twitter.com/authorjejohnson
www.amazon.com/author/jennaelizabethjohnson
http://www.pinterest.com/authorjejohnson/
http://instagram.com/authorjejohnson
https://www.wattpad.com/user/AuthorJEJohnson

In addition, I’m excited to share the table with Kick-Ass Katie Salidas!

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1.) Where are you from?

Las Vegas

2.) What do you write?

Paranormal & Urban Fantasy

3.) What are you working on right now?

Super Secret project that will be revealed at Phoenix Comic Fest….

Jacob here with an interjection: this is an AWESOME project. I got to beta and loved it!

4.) Why do you write?

Because I have to tell a story.

5.) Tell us some of your favorite things …

Raindrops on roses

And whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things…..

FOLLOW KATIE ONLINE

Website:

http://www.katiesalidas.com

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Katie-Salidas-Author/214780936916

Twitter:

http://twitter.com/QuixoticKatie

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Katie-Salidas/e/B003APXXWO

 

So, stop by and see us! I can’t wait to geek out with you and take pictures of all your cool cosplay!

Until then,

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SOKY 2018

If a couple years in Virginia didn’t convince me that I love southern hospitality, Nashville and Bowling Green have certainly done the job! It’s Monday, and I’m still riding the euphoria of being surrounded by so many wonderful people in the state of Kentucky this past weekend! The Southern Kentucky Book Fest really was “one for the books!”

From Tucson to Phoenix to Houston to Nashville to Bowling Green, it was a long day of travel (a whopping 12 hours each way!) This also was my third time stepping on Nashville ground, if only for a moment, and it was refreshing taking in all that creative energy again before it was time to get in the shuttle and ride to Bowling Green. Cat Jordan was an excellent shuttle mate, and I’m proud to call her the first friend I made during the festival!

I have to say getting a tour of Corsair Distillery was such an interesting experience! I’ve never been to any distillery before, and Corsair takes pride in being one of the “weird” ones. Checking a distillery tour off the bucket list! Oh, and also checking off “smell a bottle of fish-flavored bourbon.” P-U! Following that tour, I had the chance to meet a ton of other authors and illustrators and chat over drinks and appetizers, and it was an awesome evening! But after about 20 hours operating on fragmented sleep and pure adrenaline, it was time to crash out! *cannonballs into hulking king-sized hotel bed at beautiful hotel*

The festival itself was phenomenal! Hundreds of kids and teens on Friday, followed by another couple hundred Kentuckians filing in and out on Saturday, and I can hardly believe I was signing books for 11 total hours. I had to spend a little time walking around the festival myself and meeting the authors, and I can tell you this about our interactions:

  • One is an Italian travelphile like me, and a former professor who knows some of my former professors.
  • One won The Gong Show last year, and I totally remember watching the episode where her group performed last summer.
  • One found his love of writing by sitting at home and filling up a floppy disk with X-Men fan-fiction, which is eerily similar to how I used to pass the time in the third grade . . .
  • Two have a Netflix deal for their co-authored series, and are both so entirely sweet and humble about their success.
  • One wrote the first chapter book I ever read when I was a 1st grader, and every other book in a series of fifty that I devoured for the next 3-4 years.
  • One gave me a homemade, perfectly shaped and delectably textured cookie, and I was so thrilled to learn that she has ideas for a baking cookbook.
  • One turned the entire convention center into a cozy mystery, doling out stick-on mustaches that filled the room with tiny incognito detectives.
  • One has a second life as a MMA fighter/instructor and I never ever want to mess with her. Ever.
  • One came to Tucson last year and I was still too shy to approach her at TFOB because she is larger than life. She then became my table buddy at SOKY and I spent two days laughing with her, learning from her, and drinking up her encouraging words and amazing ideas. Oh, and I super-appreciated her signing a paperback for me, which became a very effective distraction during a rocky flight home!
  • I probably missed a few, but I should say ALL were amazing and gracious people I’m proud to call friends!

The festival marked a bittersweet transition for me as it also signaled the end of my trilogy’s production under Blaze Publishing. The greatest thanks goes to them for opening these amazing doors for me, even as they close their own doors and prepare for bright new futures. But don’t worry! If you don’t own a copy of THE CARVER or its sequels yet, come see me in Phoenix next month. I’ll be selling the last remaining copies as they currently exist, and later this summer, look for some updates from me! This isn’t the end of Enzo’s story, and after SOKY this weekend, I’ve never been more optimistic about what’s to come!

Make a wish,

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YA Scavenger Hunt Spring 2018

Hello my friends!

And welcome to the Spring 2018 edition of the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt! You’re hunting for TEAM BLUE, which happens to be my favorite color ever. I’m Jacob Devlin, your humble host for this round of the search, and I’m here to guide you to the coveted book prize (and a couple fun ones I threw in myself)! Here are two fun facts about me:

  1. When I was a tiny little kid I tried to eat a Christmas ornament because I thought it might taste like fruit. (I mean, it was on a tree…)
  2. I enjoy singing along to Italian pop rock in my car.

Deep within this hunt–in a land/blog post far far away–I have hidden an exclusive deleted scene from my most recent book, THE HUMMINGBIRD! Find it to uncover a story of what could have been and a twist on an old story you may know. I’ve also hidden a secret number on this very post. Your main task is to collect ALL the secret numbers on Team Blue, then plug ’em in on this page for a chance to win big. But of course, have fun along the way, and enjoy your chance to connect with all these great writers!

This season, I’m psyched for you all to meet Tobie Easton!

BIO:

Award-winning author Tobie Easton was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she’s grown from a little girl who dreamed about magic to a twenty-something who writes about it. Her debut novel, Emerge, is a Gold Medal Winner (Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy) of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and is Book 1 in the acclaimed Mer Chronicles series. The trilogy follows the descendants of the Little Mermaid and offers fans a peek into a world where Mermaids aren’t just real, but live secretly among us on land.

She and her very kissable husband enjoy traveling the globe and fostering packs of rescue puppies. Tobie loves chocolate chip cookies and Oxford commas. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California, Tobie splits her time between Los Angeles and Boston.

Here’s what Tobie has to share with you all!

 

Hi, all!  I’m Tobie, author of the Mer Chronicles series, which follows the descendants of the Little Mermaid and offers a peek into a world where mermaids aren’t just real but live secretly among us on land.  The first two books in the trilogy—Emerge and Submerge—are out now, and the third book, Immerse, comes out this year!  I’ve received a bunch of messages from you guys requesting more about the Mermaid everyone loves to hate: Melusine.  So for YASH, I’ve created a Melusine mood board to share with you, and I can’t wait for you to check it out!

https://www.pinterest.com/tobieeaston/  

You can also explore the Clay, Caspian, and Ondine mood boards I created for YASH last year 😉  Is this how you picture the characters from the Mer Chronicles?  I’d love to hear what you think, so give me a shout!

xo Tobie

Get a look at these covers:

TobieEaston-Emerge_1800x2700_1

SUBMERGECover

Tobie sounds like a great author to follow if you’re up for a dive into a world of fantasy and mermaids. If you’d like to keep up with her, give her a follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. I’m no math whiz, but completing each of those tasks just might increase your odds of winning THIS RAFFLECOPTER by a little over 21%. Just a rough estimate, though.

To continue on your hunt, please go visit the great ELIZA TILTON!

Happy reading and happy hunting!

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Updates!

Hello World,

Checking in with some updates! I’ve been keeping busy in about seven different ways since THE HUMMINGBIRD came out last month. Whew! In some ways, releasing the end of a trilogy felt like Christmas to me . . . spending months at a time prepping, wrapping, eating, jamming to whatever it is you like to jam to during the holidays, and all of a sudden it’s over and the following days are a bit of a letdown. But just around the corner: something new and equally promising!

I’m happy to say that the Tucson Festival of Books on March 10-11 was amazing. For me, the true highlight was speaking to the Upward Bound group who came to the festival as part of a larger event their coordinator organized. They had thoughtful questions and infectious enthusiasm. I also loved sharing panel time with Zoraida Cordova and Daniel Jose Older. Our talk really fueled an intentional drive for me to write hard-hitting, exhilarating fantasy stories with strong, diverse characters.

festival

Nearly related: The movie “LOVE SIMON” has been in theaters for a week now, and I can’t talk it up enough! In the world of Young Adult movie adaptations and the movement for representation and inclusion, it’s a major win, and I want it to get all kinds of hype! Check it out sometime–not only will you laugh hysterically, but you’ll probably leave with a better understanding of someone you know. There’s also a good chance you might feel a little more understood in return. Personally, I felt quite a bit of both. 🙂

Oh! I’ll be at two more events these next couple months:

  • April 19-21: SOKY Book Fest in Bowling Green, KY
  • May 24-27: Phoenix Comic Fest in Phoenix, AZ

I hope you’ll come see me at one of these! April will be my first time in Kentucky! This is pretty exciting for bucket list purposes. Kentuckians, is there anything I have to do when I’m there? Specifically, a place I should eat in Bowling Green? (Because if you don’t tell me, I’ll just go to KFC, and that’s not blog-worthy at all. I want all my KFC runs to be kinda boring and non-memorable, unless Chris Pratt is ordering there at the same time.)

As for Phoenix, this will be my first time as a vendor at any Comic Con, and I can’t wait to share the week with Katie Salidas and Jenna Elizabeth Johnson! I’m also hoping I’ll see Ming-Na this year, but I’m even more hopeful I’ll see YOU!

Following these two events, The Carver and its sequels will likely experience some changes. I’m not going to share details quite yet, but I can say that if you want to grab copies of the books as they currently exist, this is an excellent time to do so!

In the meantime, I’m shifting most of my attention to a new adventure in the middle grade world: The cursed and terrifying wonderful and exciting process of submitting query letters! It’s been a few years since I’ve done this part, and it’s every bit as nerve-curdling as I remember it, but twice as exciting after all I’ve gained in the past few years. For now though, I could use a lot of good vibes from my friendly readership! With me luck!

Finally, a heads up that #YASH Spring 2018 is around the corner! Keep an eye on my blog in about two weeks for a chance to win TONS of prizes and discover new writers.

Until then!

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