Today’s Featured Author: Sarah Buchynski

Today I welcome fantasy author Sarah Buchynski to my blog. Be sure to check out an excerpt of Before True Light: The Awakening after the interview.

Interview

Please tell us about your current release.

Before True Light: The Awakening is mostly told through the eyes of the heroine, Izanami.  She is an orphaned girl who lives among a secret society, the Red Mages, who are in hiding until they are needed once more to protect mankind.  All of Izanami’s life she has questioned her upbringing, not knowing the purpose of her existence in such a world.  However, when a sadistic madman emerges and threatens the very existence of life itself, Izanami gains insight to her purpose, but in ways she could have never imagined.

I would also like to add one thing.  A lot of readers have said that they wished there was a more up front relationship with Izanami and Zane.  However, this is not a romance so I did not want that to be up front for that reason.  Also, most people in their teens act awkward towards others that they like.  I found that to be a more realistic interaction between the characters.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

Originally, Izanami and Zane were enemies on a student rivalry level.   They did not like each other at all.  However, I changed it to the complete opposite.  This change made the story flow smoothly.  I felt this change was necessary so that the story was not completely dark but Zane was the light that helped Izanami persevere.

The story as a whole had a huge change.  Originally, The Awakening was the first book of the series but now it isn’t.  There will be a book that takes place before The Awakening’s timeline.  I suppose it’s a similar scenario as The Chronicles of Narnia.  As well as it was originally just called Before True Light, but later that became the name of the series.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes I have started my next project.  In fact, I have started two new books.  Both are from the Before True Light series.  One is a prequel to the events of The Awakening and the other continues the story.  All I will say about them is depending on which one you read first, the reader will get a different perception of the overall story.

How did you come up with the title?

I think it was really subconscious.  I was just getting into Japanese music at the time and a song I had stumbled upon was Before True Light by Shadow.  It was a few months after  (more like 6) that that name came into my head when thinking for a title.  It just fit so well.  I had not listened to that song for awhile when it dawned on me that that was a name of a song…a really good song I might add if you like something heavier.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The ending was the most difficult to write.  This was mostly because it was challenging to determine how far to go with it or if I did not go far enough to set up for the next installment.  It took quite a few of rewrites to get the perfect balance with a good blend of drama.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My best ideas come to me when I am severally sleep-deprived.  Also, I picture them playing out in my mind as if I am watching a movie.  I suppose that is why a lot of readers have said my book reads like a movie.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

No I do not write full-time.  My full-time profession is an audio engineer currently at a recording studio, Pulsworks Audio Arts and a freelance composer for book trailers.  I usually do my writing when I have some spare time in the evenings.

What book are you reading right now?

Fruits Basket (it’s a manga comprised of several volumes).

Excerpt

The crimson sky bled out across the horizon. The land that was once fruitful and stunning began to wither in an abyss of darkness. That very same darkness that was born on that grave day would spread like a rabid plague across the great land. Light, peace, hope… all such beliefs would begin to slip away from the commoners. Even the bravest men and women would succumb to such a dire state of mind. Fear can be more deadly than that, itself, which disturbs the harmony.

Upon the peak of a mountain there perched a young woman. The black cloak she was wearing shielded any distinct features of her face from being seen. Standing in stillness, her eyes stared coldly at the dying land. A faint, icy mountain breeze wisped across her face but she did not shudder. The more she stared into the distance, the more her very soul seemed to split apart. She slumped onto the rocks and, for many hours, sat there in deep thought. Perhaps, she was more in a state of shock. Her eyes continued to scan the horizon. The only image she saw was one of death and destruction. While the destruction continued to move on, she remained on the mountain, alone.

In time, the cloaked woman could hear the murmur of voices coming from behind her, but she did not betray her stillness.

“Hey, a survivor is over here!” one of the men yelled to his companion. “Are you alright?” he questioned, cautiously, as he approached her. The young woman did not reply. She did not even turn around to signify that she still had life flowing within her. The man’s companion, a young soldier, approached him and the cloaked woman. His golden eyes and hair glistened against the setting, blood red sun. The young soldier motioned for his companion to step away from the woman. He crouched down next to the cloaked woman and gently put his hand on her shoulder.

Book Description

SB coverThe fate of the world is uncertain…A secret society, historical protectors of mankind and thought to have been lost for centuries, re-emerges in dire times. When a sinister madman emerges and threatens the balance of harmony, a young girl realizes her quest for purpose.

About the Author

Sarah Buchynski is a young author that primarily writes Young Adult Fantasy using powerful imagery to captivate her readers. Her latest work, Before True Light: The Awakening has begun to captivate readers across the globe.

In her early teens, Sarah began to dabble in poetry due to her fascination with Edgar Allen Poe. At sixteen, she had her first poem, The Gift, professionally published through an anthology. Since then Sarah has had a few more of her works of poetry published but on a much smaller scale. Today she continues to write poetry, but not for publication.

When Sarah is not focusing on her writing career, she focuses on her audio engineering career and sometimes fusing the two together. Sarah independently composes scores for book trailers and designs all audio aspects needed and takes on other audio-based projects when she can.

You can follow Sara on Twitter or Facebook or check out her Goodreads Author page.

You can buy Before True Lights: The Awakening on Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, the Kobo Store and from Sony.

Top 7 things I am thankful for this season

thanksEvery November, you see it on Facebook and on blogs…people listing the reasons they are thankful. Well, since today is Thanksgiving, I thought I would create my own list…

1.) My family – I have to start out with the biggest one…I am so thankful to have my husband and my two children, Lexie and Jase, in my life. I am glad we have each other even though I know we don’t say it often enough. I am glad to have my brother, his wife and her son are here this Thanksgiving. I don’t see them enough and certainly miss having my older brother around. I am also thankful for my parents and in-laws and that both live close and can be part of their grandkids lives.

2.) Being healthy – After having a friend go through chemotherapy for most of the year (cancer free now) and having my mom in and out of the hospital for the past four months, I am certainly glad that I am healthy as well as my kids and husband.

3.) Having the option to be a stay-at-home mom – I love that I can stay home and raise my kids. I love being able to volunteer at their schools and be involved in their activities. I am thankful for having this opportunity since I know so many who don’t have the same option.

4.) My husband – I know, he is part of the family but I wanted to list him separately and just because I put him fourth on the list, I don’t want you (or him) to think he is that far down on any list. I am thankful for having a husband who has supported me in being both a mother and a self-published author. He is my sounding board for story ideas and the first person I go to for a critique of my work-in-progress. Without him, I don’t think I would have had the courage to embark on this journey into the world of self-publishing.

5.) My friends – I have so many friends that help and support me. From the moms I meet with monthly for breakfast to the neighbors who pick up my kids from school when I need them to, I appreciate all of them. I don’t know what I would do without you all.

6.) My fellow authors/bloggers – To everyone who has tweeted or commented on my blog and to those that have hosted me on their blog, I just want to say thank you. I appreciate every one of you and the time you have taken to help me in my self-publishing career. You are simply the best!

7.) My readers – And last, but not least, I want to thank everyone who has read any of my novels or my short story, I want to give a big THANK YOU for taking the time and spending your money on something that I have worked so hard to write. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I have loved writing them.

Ok – the obligatory list is done…now back to enjoying Thanksgiving with the family.

Thanksgiving with the family…and I am thankful for that

thanksgivingLast year, I wrote about trying to divide up the holidays. (My in-laws had moved near us and we had traditionally been spending both holidays with my parents who already lived near by.) This year for a while I thought we might have trouble figuring out what to do on Thanksgiving. Both my family and my husband’s family have relatives in town this week.

My brother, his wife and her son have been planning their trip since August. They are driving in from Albuquerque after school gets out on Wednesday. They will be here through Saturday.

Then at the end of October, we found out my husband’s cousin, husband, and son would be in town for her older son’s graduation from Air Force basic training at Lackland AFB. This also means her parents (my husband’s aunt and uncle) will be coming into town. Luckily for us, they all have other relatives to stay with. And as it turns out, none of them expect to spend Thanksgiving with us.

And that is a good thing as I already had plans to be at my parents’ house as we have been for the past 10 years. This year will be slightly different. Instead of cooking a big dinner, my parents are picking up a pre-cooked turkey dinner from the local grocery store. As I post this, my mom will have been out of the hospital probably less than two weeks after having spent 20 days in ICU/PCU followed by about 21 days in rehabilitation after having complications from a tumor being removed from her skull back in August.  (Yes, it has been an interesting and stressful four months for all of us – particularly my mom, but she is doing awesome.)

So this year, I am just thankful to have my family around me. I am glad my mom is doing better and am glad I could witness the amount of strength she has to overcome everything that has happened. I am proud of my dad for always being there and supporting her. I am happy that my brother will finally be here for a visit and is bringing his wife and her son who I am still getting to know.

And how can I not be thankful for my wonderful kids – Lexie and Jase. They bring such joy, excitement and yes, even frustration into my life. I am thankful that we have the means to have some great animals as part of our family. I am especially happy that we added puppy Sadie Rose to our family in October, though I am still not sure the cats like that decision.

And before he thinks I left him out – I am thankful for my husband. He had the courage to start his own business recently and through the ups and downs of that new business, he has always provided for his family. I love that he is willing to work so hard so I can stay at home and raise our two kids. I also am grateful that he puts up with all my obsessing and planning – especially in regards to our upcoming trip to Disney World. Thank you, dear!

Today’s Featured Authors: Christine Cacciatore and Jennifer Starkman

Today I have the sister writing duo of Christine Cacciatore and Jennifer Starkman on my blog. The second book in their Whitfield Witch series, Cat,Charmed, is set to be released next month.

Interview

Do either of you write full time?

Not according to the typical 8-5 work schedule.  Neither of us write full time instead of a traditional full time job, but our time is filled with writing!  Between us, we have two husbands, six children, one grandbaby and two nutty dogs.

But this we both agree on:  Writing is our passion.  Whether it is Jen getting up at 5:00 a.m. to work on her section or Chris giving up lunch or gym time to write, we are making no excuses as to why it can’t be done.  We consider ourselves full time writers, much as we consider ourselves full time Moms even though we work outside the home.  We both carry tablets with us all the time, writing notes, questions, etc as needed.  We communicate through phone calls, emails and texts daily.

What’s the best/worst advice you’ve ever received?

Chris:  Best advice, hands down, was write fast and write bad.  Nora Roberts said, “You can’t edit a blank page.”  Even if it is a page of junk, you might find that one line that ties it all together.  Write, write and write some more!

Jenny:  The best advice I received was from a teacher back in the day.  She was so encouraging with her praise.  I had written a short story for class, which she stickered a big gold medallion on and hung, alone, in the middle of her bulletin board.  She told me that I could be anything I wanted to be but that I was clearly a writer.  She encouraged me to view myself as a writer and to tackle life as one.  I think of her, and her message, often.

Do you outline your books or just write?

This is an interesting question, as we both have different philosophies on writing.  Working together, we use a structured outline to help us both stay on track.

Chris:  I dislike outlines.  I dislike them greatly.  Jen loves them, and when we are writing our stories together, she keeps me on a short leash.  My copy of our agreed upon outline is tattered, written on and looked at daily.  When I write my own material, I do not outline.  I love seeing where the characters take me.

Jenny:  I love and need outlines.  In order to write, I need to know where my characters are, where I want them to go and how they’re going to get there.  I like outlining each character and setting, so I can visualize it in my head.  Chris pushes me to think outside the box as the story develops, though, so our outline is not stagnant but changes as needed.  I have approximately 70 outlines of future books.  (I think I may have a little of a control issue, I think Chris would agree 🙂

Please tell us about your current release:

Baylyn, Bewitched is a whimsical story about Baylyn Travers, a witch who would love to meet that special man.  However, most of her first dates are also last dates because her magic interferes in hilarious ways.  She meets Declan Hughes and although her magic flares up when he’s around, the passion and love she finds with him make it necessary to figure out a way to be together.

Next month, we’ll celebrate the release of Cat, Charmed, which is a story about a tightly wound control freak who is suddenly gifted with magical powers she did not ask for.  It’s the second book in the Whitfield Witch series.  Cat not only deals with new magical powers, but also with a man who, despite his playboy ways, is working his way into her heart…a heart she didn’t know could love, or trust, again.

What inspired you to write this book?

Both:  We loved Cat’s character in Baylyn, Bewitched.  She was so interesting with such a unique background.  Working on her transformation as a witch, and as a woman, is exciting.  Who wouldn’t want to suddenly have magic powers?  We have some mischief taking place, and she has some fun exploring a new side of her personality.    We could see her clearly and couldn’t wait for our readers to see her, too.  She simply needed to have her story told.

How did you come up with the title?

Both:  As part of the Whitfield Witch series, we wanted the titles to coordinate and complement each other.  Baylyn, Bewitched was the first book.  We liked the simplicity of the title, followed by this upcoming release of Cat, Charmed.  We both are such fans of magic, and having something that indicates that in the title helps people like us who scan titles for future reads.  Future books in this series will follow the same title format.

If this book is part of a series, what is next book?  Any details you can share?

The next book is entitled Elise, Enchanted.  It is the story of Baylyn’s mother, also a very powerful witch, whose husband Charles–her true love–has been missing and presumed dead for decades.  Elise discovers new information regarding the time travel spell Charles was working on at the time of his disappearance and realizes it could be possible to find him again

All time favorite book?  

Chris:  My all time favorite book is Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux.  It cemented my desire to write fanciful books that someone else would love as much as I loved hers.  It inspired me to no end.  It was funny, well written, and featured time travel; three of my favorite things!

Jenny: I am a librarian and therefore cannot choose a favorite book.  Just when I think I found a new favorite, I find another author, a new voice, a surprise ending.  I love finding books that change me as a reader, that inspire me, or that allow me to dream about things that will never *well unless I win the lottery* happen.

What fuels you as authors to continue to write?

The wonder of thinking “what if?”  The fact that we both are always writing stories in our heads and have notebooks full of ideas.  Writers see stories in every day life.  Most of us live such basic, ordinary lives, but through books, readers are able to explore and experience things they never will never be able to, otherwise.  What would it be like to have magic?  Would it change your life?  What would it be like if your cat could talk?  What about time travel?  What if you could say yes to a situation that you said no to in the past?  Life is fascinating.  We provide an outlet for those women and men of all ages to explore.

Book Description

Baylyn-Bewitched-Baylyn, Bewitched is a whimsical story about Baylyn Travers, a witch who would love to meet that special man.  However, most of her first dates are also last dates because her magic interferes in hilarious ways.  She meets Declan Hughes and although her magic flares up when he’s around, the passion and love she finds with him make it necessary to figure out a way to be together.

 

Cat-Charmed_-_B&NIn December, we’ll celebrate the release of Cat, Charmed, which is a story about a tightly wound control freak who is suddenly gifted with magical powers she did not ask for.  It’s the second book in the Whitfield Witch series.  Cat not only deals with new magical powers, but also with a man who, despite his playboy ways, is working his way into her heart…a heart she didn’t know could love, or trust, again.

About the Authors

christineChristine Collins Cacciatore and Jennifer Collins Starkman started reading anything they could get their hands on at a very early age, seeking out pigs who could talk, little people who borrow or cats in the hat. It only makes sense, then, that their love of reading would flow into a love of writing.

Baylyn, Bewitched is their first novel in the Whitfield Witch series. The second book in the series, Cat, Charmed, will come out before the end of this year.

Chris and Jenny are both married to scrumptious men and have three marvelous children each, along with a preposterous dog to share in the chaos.

Jenny also never misses an opportunity to point out that Chris is the much older sister, being a full three and a half years older. Chris is fine with that because rocking her new granddaughter makes her feel all better.

Chris Cacciatore also blogs on humor at the Life and Times of Poopwa Foley.  She has had stories in three Not Your Mother’s Book anthologies and also writes as the Rockford Writing Examiner on Examiner.com.

You can find out more about the sisters on their blog, author website and Facebook page.

Baylyn, Bewitched is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Picking stronger words

Today’s blog topic comes from helping my son do his homework last week. One of the assignments was to replace the verbs with stronger ones.

Here is an example from his homework.

Ben got a bag of chips from the shelf.

Stronger word choice:

Ben grabbed a bag of chips from the shelf.

Yes, both sentences are very similar. But the key is that in the second example you learn how Ben got the bag. The word “grab” means to “seize something quickly.” So when I used the word “grabbed,” you know that not only did Ben get a bag of chips, but you understand how he did it.

So when picking stronger words, you are trying to choose words that give the reader more information. Instead of talking loudly, you shout. Instead of hitting hard, you wallop and instead of smile smugly, you smirk.

Take a look at this example:

Seething with anger, Sarah took the book from him. She walked out the door, closing it loudly as she left.

Stronger word choices:

Sarah snatched the book out of his hand. She stomped out the door, slamming it behind her.

The second example gives a clearer picture of what happened. You know by her actions that Sarah is either angry or annoyed.

In the second half of the first example, instead of picking a strong verb, an adverb were used. As a writer, using the occasional adverb is fine but in reality, you should aim to use strong verbs (as in the second example.) The use of a lot of adverbs shows lazy writing.

Quick grammar refresher: An adverb modifies a verb, adjective or other adverbs. They answer the question where, when, how and to what extent. You don’t have to eliminate all adverbs but if an adverb can easily be eliminated without change the meaning of the passage, then it should be removed.

Of course, though sometimes a stronger verb will work better, there are times when a simple word is fine. Characters can walk. They don’t always have to stomp, dash, hurry, shuffle, scurry or whatever.

You want to pick the best word for the scene. This doesn’t mean you need a big, fancy or unusual word. It means picking the right word to say the right thing in just the right way. It doesn’t mean rushing to a thesaurus to sprinkle your book with synonyms when a simpler word will do.

As you revise your draft, examine your word choices. You might ask yourself, “Is this really what I mean?” or “Is there a better word to convey this so my readers will understand what is happening?”  Finding words that capture your meaning and convey it to your readers is challenging. But you can tighten up your writing by making sure you are picking strong words.