Writing to Inspire: Author Interview

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It was such a pleasure to be interviewed by blogger and aspiring author, Naomi Downing.

To read the original interview, click here.

  • When did you start writing?

Since the moment I could grasp a pencil, I’ve been writing stories. Being an avid reader inspired me to write books of my own. I wanted to create something that would connect with readers as much as I connected with the works of other authors. Writing, for me, was a poignantly personal form of expression and self-discovery. In middle school, I wrote two novels and posted over sixty short-stories on a teen writing website. It was during this time that I set the goal of being published by sixteen. The Prime Way Program: Be the Victor was released twenty-five days before my sixteenth birthday.

  • Of your two books, which do you do you like better? Which did you have more fun writing?

Asking me which book I like most is like asking a mom which of her children is her favorite.

I love both equally because they reflect different times in my life and progress as a writer. Be the Victor was the first of my books to be published; it’ll always have a special place in my heart. I was deeply connected to my characters when writing Just Strength and absolutely adore the book’s setting. Both novels were fun to write! They each explore new worlds, situations, and variations of characters.

  • What made you decide to self publish? Do you have any advice for anyone who is thinking about self publishing?

As a fifteen-year-old wanting to publish her debut novel, self-publishing offered me the chance to have control over the released content of my book, the cover, and a large percentage of profit from sales. Originally, I had hoped to take the more traditional publishing route; but after several setbacks, it became clear that self-publishing was the route God wanted me to take.

For those of you who are considering self-publishing, I do have a few tidbits of advice. First, be aware that self-publishing requires you to be the author, publisher, agent, cover-shoot coordinator, and publicist. You are in control of every aspect of your publication, which is both a gift and a burden. Second, always aim for quality. As a self-published author, you will be constantly trying to prove that your book is worth reading. There won’t be an agent or a publishing house vouching for you, so you must do everything possible to create a product of topnotch quality. Invest the money! Find a great editor! Pick an original cover! Do not give anyone a reason to criticize the format and presentation of your book. Lastly, don’t be discouraged. It’s easy to feel defeated during and after the publishing process. Keep working! Stay strong! Never give up!

  • Do you have any advice for a new writer?

Write for the right reasons.

I know from personal experience that the idea of being an author seems spectacular. Write a book, publish, become rich and famous—that is the three-step plan many people find themselves drawn towards. I’m sorry to say that the life of an author does not usually fit that plan and if you spend your time writing to achieve that plan, you’re going to be disappointed. Write because you love to write. If you are connected with your characters and believe in the story you are creating, it doesn’t matter if you are the next J.K. Rowling. You’ll love your book because it is your book. Later success is but a bonus.

  • What were a couple of things you were most excited about when you published your books?

Readers!

Until publishing, my books were my secrets. They belonged solely to me until the day I released them to the public and then, they belonged to everyone. I was thrilled to develop a fan-base, receive reviews and fan-made art. My secrets had become alive. Kyle and Cora, my main characters, were as real in the minds of readers as they were in my own. To know that other people were able to experience the relationships and story that I’d spent years creating was truly exciting, but also terrifying. When writing a book, an author must be completely and utterly transparent. So I knew that since my novels were available to the public’s scrutiny, I’d be vulnerable to scrutiny as well. I tell people often that it was like allowing someone to look into my underwear drawer; I felt exposed.

To hear my own words…

I almost started crying when I heard the robotic Kindle voice read my book aloud. It was exciting to hear my words and know that they meant something to someone other than me.

  • What kind of book covers capture your attention?

As disappointing as it is, people do judge books by their covers. I am one of those people. Since my favorite genres are YA dystopian, SciFi, and speculative, I am attracted to covers that are well composed and properly reflect/illustrate their story. Originality is important!

When brainstorming ideas for the covers of my novels, I decided that I wanted each cover to be inspired by a pinnacle moment in the book, reflect a sense of desperation and grit. I write thematic stories. My readers should see that element visualized in the book covers.

  • Can you name a few books that are similar to yours? (you can use your imagination if you need too. 😉 )

I have a tendency to write books that cannot be placed in any one genre. The Prime Way Trilogy is a mixture of YA medical SciFi and dystopian. To find a similar story, you would have to fuse together books and movies such as Divergent, The Hunger Games, Captain America, X-Men, and I Am Number Four. Even then, the book formed wouldn’t be exactly the same as mine.

  • What is one thing you want your readers to come away with after reading your books?

Authors have an amazing power. Their words are lenses; they allow readers to see the world differently, from a new perspective, discover more about themselves and humanity as a whole. I want my readers to finish my books and be motivated to overcome the obstacles to their lives, think deeply about the world’s situation and possible future, and also be inspired to pursue whatever God has called them to do. The Prime Way Trilogy was written during a time in my life when I had the choice to either give up my dream, succumb to what other people titled as normality, or fight for what I believed was my calling. My personal struggle is reflected in my books; but of course, I wasn’t conflicted with programming and a misanthropic villain determined to destroy humankind.

  • Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing at my desk, but coffeehouses are also a favorite place.

  • Do you have a writing schedule? (and if you do, would you like to share it with us?)

I do not have a formal writing schedule. In the past, I worked on my books for at least five hours every day. This semester has been different, due to my college courses. I haven’t been able to write as much as I’d like, but I plan to spend all of December and January writing my current stand-alone novel. Remember, life is constantly changing. Your writing schedule must adjust to fit your lifestyle. It’s not easy to make those adjustments; but if you prioritize your writing, you’ll find the time to do it.

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The Moon And Arrow Book Tour

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For those who don’t already know, I am currently on a book-tour with author Tessa Emily Hall (“Purple Moon”). We are going to bookstores, coffeehouses, schools, and youth groups to promote our novels, share our journey, and inspire young people to pursue their dreams NOW. To celebrate our tour, officially titled “The Moon and Arrow Book Tour”, we have started a YouTube channel! We’ll be posting exclusive interviews, writing tips, and hilarious author videos. Subscribe! https://www.youtube.com/user/moonandarrowauthors

Book Tour
To request tour locations or receive more information, contact us!

Believing in the Impossible

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“I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.”

–          Philippians 4:13

Children say impossible things. When asked what they want to be when they grow-up, they usually respond by saying “princess” or “president”. They don’t understand the concept of impossible. In their minds, they can be and do anything.

Adults rarely discourage the big, naïve dreams of children. Sooner or later, the kid will realize what he/she can or cannot be/do. My story has the same beginning. I was a child who, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew-up, said that I wanted to be a published author by my sixteenth birthday.

My dream lasted through elementary and middle school. I was an avid reader, writer, and a homeschooler. Simply put, I wasn’t considered “cool” by other kids. I had a huge dream and a wild imagination; and no matter what other people said about me, I knew who I was and what I wanted.

By the end of eighth-grade, I had written two novels based on The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, published sixty-eight short-stories on a teen-writing website, and had over 60,000 readers. My Literature teacher encouraged me to write an original novel and that summer, The Prime Way Program was born.

June of 2011, my father took me to see Tim Tebow at a conference in Atlanta. What Tebow said radically transformed my perspective regarding my dream and God’s plan for me. He talked about using a secular platform (such as football) to glorify God. I decided then and there that I would use my writing to glorify my Creator.

After six-months, I finished what I thought would be the first installment in The Prime Way Trilogy. It was horrible, but I needed that time to build my characters and a back-story. I started on book 2, finished it exactly six-months later, and my Literature teacher thought it was so good, she told me to publish it as the first in the series.

I submitted the unedited version of my manuscript to several agents and publishers. All said it was a great story and if I were a few years older, they’d publish me in a heartbeat. By this point, I was six months away from my deadline of being published by sixteen. I talked with my Lit teacher and she recommended self-publishing, which is becoming popular worldwide. Thinking it could be my only chance to achieve my goal, I prayed and began editing and formatting my book.

I spent hundreds of hours perfecting the story. I forced my parents, my principal, another teacher, and a friend to edit my novel. They gave me feedback, both painful and encouraging, and I kept working. February 1st of 2013, twenty-five days before my sixteenth birthday, “The Prime Way Program: Be the Victor” was published as an eBook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

So I encourage you to believe in the impossible. We only have one life to be something worth remembering.