Today’s question is: How did you build your author platform? Was it by personal effort or did you have professional help?
Last week’s discussion answered this question: If you were given the opportunity to form a book club with your favorite authors of all time, which legends or contemporary writers would you want to become a part of the club?
This week’s discussion is a writer fantasy: If you were given the opportunity to form a book club with your favorite authors of all time, which legends or contemporary writers would you want to become a part of the club?
For my fantasy book club, I would choose Stephen King, Kate Morton, James Long, Felix de Palma, and J.K. Rowling. It is an eclectic group for sure but that’s how I read!
Let’s see who chooses who! Post your selection in the comments.
Last week’s question. Is today’s generation more aware of the literary art or less?How do you think concepts such as Kindle, and e-books have changed the present or future of reading? Feel free to comment on last weeks question on that post.
I am a “real book” (paper) only reader. As I don’t have an e-reader, I can’t judge the experience; I’m just not interested right now in giving up paper books. There’s something quite personal about lying in bed with a “real” book, not an electronic device. I guess I’m showing my age. Ecco la vita!
In my youth, my father filled my bookshelves with Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, Alexander, and Eddings. As I entered adulthood, he bought me Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books as they released.
My dad’s health declined. I began writing my own fantasy novel, transforming my useless anxiety into imaginative scribbling.
During this time, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with a disease similar to my father’s. They endured identical treatments, even taking part in a study for the same drug.
Jordan passed away before completing the series which was finished by Brandon Sanderson. My husband gave me those last three books because my father was gone too.
The sole connection between my dad and Jordan may appear tragic, but out of despair came Tranquility.
How did you come up with the title?
Tranquility is the name of a book within my novel. I wanted the title of that book to clearly represent peace, which was the intended purpose of the rules in that book.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
When I buy a fantasy book, I’m looking for a good story to curl up with and enjoy. I wrote a book I would want to read. Great books stick with me, and make me want to discuss them with other readers. A fictional story becomes the reader’s once the book is in their hands, and any message received is personal. I hope my book provides what good fiction should be: enjoyment; a story that remains in hearts and minds; and a reason for thoughtful discussion. That’s a tall order, I know.
How much of the book is realistic?
My hope is that the emotions, characters, and general circumstances connect to the real world enough for readers to identify with them. Some of the setting and characters were inspired by the Adirondacks, one of my favorite places. The messengers in the last chapter were inspired by a pair of Southern Ground Hornbills, who still reside at the Philadelphia Zoo. However, this is an absolute work of fiction.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are pieces of me, people I know, and experiences I have sprinkled throughout the story. Close family and friends tease me about certain characters, who remind them of me. The best fun is when people project themselves on characters, who are not at all inspired by them.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
My website is the best place to connect with me. I do not have a blog.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I have the first few chapters of a stand alone WIP written and sitting on the back burner. The sequel to Tranquility is taking precedence.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? I think Taelmai is high on my list of favorite characters. She struggles with hypochondria, but her nurturing personality drives her to care deeply for others, allowing an underlying bravery to well up. She’s a complicated, anxious, loving person, and I wonder about her reliability. She feels very human to me as I care for, worry about, and doubt her.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
Fantasy is my favorite genre. I do like to dabble. My short story Kat, The Jailer, and Jack is a retelling of an Indian folk tale The Tiger, The Brahmin, and the Jackal. This was fun to write because it was backwards for me. I took this old story filled with personification and reworked it into a modern all human cast of characters.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Seat of my pants, definitely! Reading an interview with Madeleine L’Engle was a huge inspiration to me. Until I read it, I knew I had a basic idea for a story, but I didn’t know where it would go or how it would end. I thought I needed to have this outline to be a REAL writer. Then I read “The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy” by Leonard S. Marcus. He asked L’Engle, “Did you know from the start how the story would end?” she responded, “No. I’ve never done that! It is more fun not to know. If you know exactly what is going to happen, it doesn’t work. But if you start to write the story and listen to it, see where it wants to go … well, I think that’s how God creates.”
Reading this from one of my most-admired authors freed me from self-imposed constraints. I began to write, and the story unfolded.
What is your best marketing tip?
I value personal, grass roots effort as a strong starting place. I have a small teen/young adult tribe who have agreed to help me promote my book. They will be involved in everything from sharing and creating social media posts to live-streaming my author events and overseeing craft tables to talking to group leaders at their schools. Their peers are my readers. There is no better way to reach a population than to have some enthusiastic members encouraging their peers to enjoy what they have enjoyed. Also, talk to people and listen well. I discovered three friends, who have connections to newspaper/magazine publications. All three of them have helped me secure feature articles about my book. Talking to my town’s librarian and comic book store owner have secured me two author events. When I was on vacation in the Adirondacks, I talked to bookstore owners and loon conservationists about my book and its being inspired by their part of the world and the creatures residing there. I’ve made some great connections. Get yourself out there!
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
I have mixed feelings about social media. Tending to it takes a lot of time away from my writing and the personal engagement I prefer. However, it is a convenient way to reach a lot of people.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I enjoy losing myself in the story as it develops. This feels very similar to why I love to read.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I usually read for pleasure, but now that I am a writer, I find myself reading differently, noticing technical writing choices. I try hard to put that away, and just enjoy, but sometimes I am struck by a point of view or how dialogue is handled and I become thoughtful about the craft instead of the story.
Where is your favorite writing space?
I dream of writing in a cafe, using WiFi, and sipping a cafe mocha. However, I am a homeschooling mom, who is thankful for the times that my kids are learning independently, taking a class, volunteering, at practice, or playing outside so that I can write by daylight. For me, it’s more about a favorite time to write. That would be by daylight, but out of necessity, most of my writing happens in the wee hours. As for where this happens, I mix it up between my kitchen table, dining room table, and sometimes, when the sun is still up, the desk in my bedroom. That makes me feel fancy!
CHRISTA CONKLIN is the author of several articles, and two short stories: Moontail and Kat, the Jailer, and Jack. Tranquility is her debut novel for which she received the 2016 Cascade Award for Unpublished Speculative Fiction. She teaches piano and woodwinds at a music school in her small New Jersey town. Her family hikes mountains, paddles lakes, strolls city streets, and picks their own everything at local farms and from their own gardens. She and her meteorologist husband home school their children and don’t train their Miniature Goldendoodle. Visit her at christaconklin.com.
Tranquility by Christa Conklin “Tranquility is a refreshing take on the fantasy genre. Filled with magic, prophecies, and plenty of mythical beings, Conklin weaves an intriguing, imaginative tale that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the last page. With a rich cast of characters, vivid world building, and a story you’ll be talking about long after you finish reading, Tranquility leaves readers both satisfied and yearning for the next adventure in the series.” —Kathryn Lee Martin, author, the Snow Spark Saga Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. March 20, 2019
Blurb: She must prove there’s more to life than peace and more to death than dying. The One People find guidance to peace and unity in the pages of TRANQUILITY. Drethene views the methods prescribed in the book as hurtful attempts to escape their diverse ancestry. Such pain is personal, as her parents aim to conceal how different she looks from the rest of their people. Even her job keeps Drethene quiet and secluded. While working in the Academy library, she secretly reads histories used only to teach future leaders to loathe the past. Drethene is inspired by these books filled with cultural variety. When she discovers another world as part of her people’s heritage, a well established enemy is revealed, and she rises to meet the truth and save both worlds. Now Drethene must convince the One People that their lives are not as tranquil as they seem. They are being hunted and must reunite with a sisterworld that has been erased from their past. If they choose to remain in the comfort of their rewritten history and false sense of peace. they will be dragged into a maelstrom they have forgotten to fear.
Usually writing energizes me. I absolutely love it. Even those moments when I’m exhausted from my day job, as soon as I force myself to dig in I’m so happy I did. I love to get lost in the worlds that I’ve created with characters that truly do surprise me.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
If you mean what can deter me from writing, it’s being so tired that I can’t properly focus or having a migraine, which I unfortunately get too often. Creatively, I’m lucky that I don’t really have anything, except on the rare occasion when I’ll get stuck on a plot point (usually unsure where to go next in the story), but it usually means that my character isn’t doing the right thing for the story. I usually talk it through with my amazing writer friends and my husband, who has quickly become the best person to talk through plot with (and he’s not even a writer).
How does having friends who are also authors help you become a better writer?
We keep each other accountable, talk through all of our issues on and off the page, and root for each other. No one else fully understands the highs and lows in this business, so it’s so comforting to have them. We critique each other’s work and have become our own little family over the years. We joke about starting a writing commune.
Do you want each book you write to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I have a few series on the go, but all my books share commonalities. I write gritty, dark stories that explore human motivation and how well you really know the people in your life. I have currently two books in The Pretty Wicked series published and I’m writing a YA witch urban fantasy that’s a ton of fun. The Wicked books can be read as stand-alone novels, though they do complement one another and the reader will get the full story arc if they read both. The YA series will be sequential and need to be read in order.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I recently read two books that I think people would love but don’t really know about. UNEARTHLY THINGS by Michelle Gagnon and THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY by Stephanie Oaks. They happen to both be YA books but they will be loved by all if given the chance. Unearthly Things is a modern reimagining of Jane Eyre complete with a creepy, haunted mansion, a misplaced orphan, a turbulent love story and dangerous liaisons. It’s great. The Scared Lies of Minnow Bly was so beautifully and hauntingly written that I was actually angry when it ended. I don’t even want to say anything more as to not ruin it. Go look them up.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have two finished but unpublished novels, one half-finished book, and I’m currently completely replotting and reworking another novel that was complete but I realized was all wrong.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I do a ton of research. I read articles and books as well as watch documentaries and movies on the subjects I’m interested in. I’ve even travel and tour places when I’m able. I interview experts in the different fields I’m looking into/studying. I usually do a lot of heavy research before the bulk of my writing starts, but it continues throughout the writing of the book as other things arise.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
Typically, I try and write or research 4-5 days a week anywhere from 1-4 hours per day. I work Mondays to Fridays so I cram in what I can in the evenings and on weekends. I’m also trying to get more reading in because I find it helps my own words flow a bit easier. It’s like a primer.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I often look at baby name websites, though sometimes I look up the meanings of names and their ancestry to make sure it fits the character. I will also jot interesting names down in the notes section on my phone when I hear them. I work at a school with 600 kids, so that also helps.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I’m drawn to certain genres to read and by extension I want to write my own stories and create my own worlds in those genres. For me it’s thriller, horror, and urban fantasy. I love reading and watching some historical but refuse to research that much or I might delve into that. I’d love to write a gothic or Victorian horror—for that I might fall into the research hole.
I balance them by writing one at a time. I have friends that can write anywhere from two to five different books at once. I prefer to get lost in one world from start to finish. I get very focused so the only time I’ll veer off is if I’m editing, then I can split time writing something else.
How long have you been writing?
I think this is year twelve or thirteen. Though I’ve had to take some huge breaks for various degrees I’ve gone back to school for. It’s difficult to keep up on school work and write for me.
Share a link to your author website.
I love to connect with readers and writers. Here’s where you can find me:
Pretty Wicked, is a mature YA novel that follows a fifteen-year-old girl named Ryann Wilkanson who has always known she’s a little different than most people. Early on she recognized that she had a darkness inside of her that she didn’t see in her friends or family members. She becomes obsessed with serial killers who she refers to as “The Greats” and decides that she wants to join their ranks. Lucky for Ryann, her father is a detective and she has made good use of her visits to the station, paying close attention so that she can get away with murder. In this series, Ryann is the protagonist while the detective hunting her, who also happens to be her father’s partner, is the antagonist.
14. What about the sequel, Wicked Fallout?
Wicked Fallout was a natural extension of the first book, though it takes place twelve years later and is classified as an adult novel. I didn’t feel ready to leave the characters and world behind and felt there was a lot more to the story that I wanted to explore including how possible it is for someone to change drastically as they mature, how well can you trust your own judgment and how all of your life’s experiences culminate to inform everything that you do. The book shares a point of view with Dr. Nancy Clafin, a forensic psychiatrist, who is hired by Ryann’s new and formidable defense team to evaluate her to determine if she should be released when new evidence comes to light.
Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. Kelly has a degree in English Literature as well as a Social Work degree. She has worked as a hairstylist, youth outreach worker and education assistant. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
There is no author interview this Friday, however I have a fantastic list already of writers & authors who have signed up! This is a wonderful way to get to know a plethora of authors.
Lisa de Nikolits
Jeannie JB Richards
Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Linda J Pedley
Phyllis H Moore
Obviously I am more than happy with the response but please feel free to contact me via the contact form if you would like to be included during 2018 or know an author/writer who would like to participate! There are a lot of Friday’s to fill.