Discussing Other Breakable Things With Kelley York & Rowan Altwood

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelley York & Rowan Altwood, authors of Other Breakable Things from Entangled Teen. This is a rather emotional novel, but one with an incredible premise.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of Other Breakable Things:

According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing.

Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her.

Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life—via someone else’s transplanted heart—he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again.

And now it is.

Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal—is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn.

And she’s not giving up so easily.

A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn’s fallen, and Luc’s heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn’s betting her heart, her life, that it can be.

Right down to the thousandth paper crane.

Q1: Where did the inspiration for Other Breakable Things come from? It’s a rather heavy hearted tale.

Kelley: I think a lot of my books have that heavy quality; even Dirty London, which is overall more light-hearted and optimistic, has some heavy themes, like addiction, tucked beneath the surface. When I talked Rowan into writing something with me, she had the idea for Luc and his ailments, and we decided a book on euthanasia and the Death with Dignity act would be a good one subject to tackle.

Q2: Given the subject matter of the book, did you ever have to take a break to gather your thoughts?

Rowan: Not really. We both thrive on this kind of stuff.

Kelley: For me, it’s therapeutic. It gets emotional at times and you really feel the “character bleed,” but some of my best writing (I think) comes when it gets emotional.

Q3: What made you tie in the Japanese legend behind folding paper cranes?

20657470Kelley: I read a book as a kid called Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. It’s a historical fiction about a little girl (who actually existed) in Japan who contracts leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima. She starts folding cranes in order to be granted a wish. I first read this book in grade school, and the idea of this legend has stuck with me so strongly ever since. It’s a great kid’s book and I suggest everyone check it out.

 

Q4: What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

Rowan: Nothing is black and white; the hardest decisions in life are made in shades of grey.

Q5: What do you admire most about the characters you created?

Rowan: I like Luc’s sass. I know people think he comes off as a douche a lot of the time, but honestly if you think about how much time he’s spent being sick and in hospitals in his life, he hasn’t had a normal upbringing or socialization. He’s awkward and doesn’t like to admit it. I like his sarcasm probably because a bit of that comes from me.

Kelley: Evelyn’s loyalty, I think, and the growth she displays throughout the story. She starts off pretty meek and go-with- the-flow, and gradually learns to stop letting everyone else’s needs come before her own.

Q6: Describe Other Breakable Things in three words.

Kelley: Painful, hopeful, emotional.

Q7: Where is one place you’d like to go on a road trip to and why?

Rowan: If I only had one stop? Point Reyes National Seashore.

Kelley: Same. It’s our go-to vacation spot.

Q8: What’s your writing process like?

Rowan: I throw words at a page and hope Kelley can make sense of them.

Kelley: I arrange words, throw more words at a page, and hope my editor can make sense of them.

Q9: Do you have any projects in mind for the future?

Kelley: I have a few books in the works, and no idea which I’ll finish first. I have one my editor really wants to see from me, an LGBT dark contemporary, another road trip-esque kind of book (very, very different from OBT), and the beginning to a fantasy series.

Author Bio:

Kelley York and Rowan Altwood are a wife and wife writing team living in central California with their daughter and way too many cats. Kelley is the author of Hushed, Made of Stars, and Modern Monsters, and Other Breakable Things is Rowan’s debut.

Social Media: 

 

Once again, a big thank you to Kelley and Rowan for joining me today. To see more book related posts on my end, keep an eye on the blog.

Xx

Megan

Writer Chat With Amber Mitchell

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber Mitchell, debut author of the novel Garden of Thorns, published by Entangled Teen.  I will have a review of this book up soon, but man, it hooks your attention from the opening scene and I was lucky enough to dive into Amber’s head on the project.

Before I get to the interview, here is the synopsis of Garden of Thorns which is out today! Make sure you grab your copy.

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.
 

Q1: Did you always like to write or was it something you grew into?

Amber: The first time I knew I wanted to be a writer was in 3rd grade. We had to do this presentation on space and I wrote up an entire play for the class to perform. I loved the joy creation brought and I’ve been writing ever since. However, I wasn’t actually serious about writing until my junior year of high school.

Q2: What is your favorite thing about writing?

Amber: The feeling of having written. I always complain when I’m writing, but I love the feeling I get afterwards, of knowing that I put the time in and created something. This is followed closely by the editing process. I’m not a big fan on first drafts but I love getting my hands dirty and improving books during the editing process!

Q3: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Amber: Strict plotter. I think there is a lot of fun in pantsing something, but I’ve found that if I don’t write out paragraph synopsizes for every chapter, I’ll use the excuse “I don’t know what is going to happen next” to not write for the day.

Q4: From what I’ve read so far, Garden of Thorns is one crazy ride. The opening scene alone is intense – let alone sucked me in as a reader. What inspired the story?

Amber: Every time I’d see a movie and there would be a ballroom scene, I’d watch the girls dancing in their big dresses and think about how they looked like flowers as the twirled around the dance floor. I’d always thought that a fantasy novel about a girl who was forced to dance would be a cool idea and the image of flowers kept popping up in my head. I ended up writing Garden of Thorns on accident though. I was editing another book and kept hearing Rose’s voice in my head. I opened up a new word document and wrote what would become the first five pages of the book in less than an hour. The concept of the Flowers and the Garden seemed to jump from the page and I had to figure out where it was going to take me.

Q5: What reactions are you hoping for as readers dive into your book? Are there moments you want them to scream or rave about?

Amber: Of course, I want readers to love it. I guess the biggest thing for me is that the world feels real and the book feels authentic. My biggest pet peeve when reading a book or watching a movie is when I feel like the author or creator is holding their punches. I never like “fake deaths” where you think a character died only to have them come back completely unscathed later. I’ve been getting a lot of comments that Garden of Thorns is brutal and I love it!

Q6: Who’s your favorite character from Garden of Thorns?

Amber: This question isn’t fair! Of course I love Rose and Rayce since they are my two main characters. I’m also really fond of Arlo and Marin. They’re two secondary characters in the rebellion and I love them dearly. I think Arlo adds a good bit of humor to the book and is a great contrast to Rayce and Marin is the breath of fresh air. She’s a girl who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to fight for it.

Q7: How does it feel to say you have a book out there in the world? I can imagine it’s a bit nerve-wracking.

Amber: It’s definitely an overwhelming feeling. I fluctuate from not believing it’s real to being so excited I could burst. There are also a fair amount of nerves involved. What’s really strange is having people talk to me about my own characters. They’ve been real to me for so long and it’s strange now that other people know them too!

Q8: If you’re not writing, what are some things you love doing?

Amber: My husband and I run a paper-cut shadowbox business that allows us to travel the US. I enjoy crafting things out of paper. I’m also big into escape rooms, I like to read and sometimes I like to pretend I’m a baker. I say pretend because the last three cakes I’ve attempted have turned out lopsided!

Q9: What’s your favorite book and genre to read?

Amber: This question should be illegal! I love so many books! One of the series that will always be a favorite for me though is Harry Potter by JK Rowling. I can read it anytime! In general, I read a lot of YA. I used to stick to YA fantasy and historical, and while they are still my favorite, I read pretty much everything YA now!

Q10: Describe Garden of Thorns in three words.

Amber: Intense. Romantic. Brutal.

Biography:

Amber Mitchell graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Creative author-picWriting. She likes crazy hair styles, reading, D&D, k-dramas, good puns and great food.

When she isn’t putting words on paper, she is using cardstock to craft 3D artwork or exploring new places with her husband Brian. They live a small town in Florida with their four cats where she is still waiting for a madman in a blue box to show up on her doorstep.

Garden of Thorns is her debut novel from Entangled Teen.

If this book sounds like something you would read, and if you’d like to keep up with what Amber is doing, follow her here.

If you’d like to see my review of this book, check back soon.
Xx
Megan

From the Editor’s Desk

Being an editor is weird.

I never thought I would find myself in the field until I entered college and my interests moved more and more towards said line of work. Satisfaction filled me every time I corrected a misplaced punctuation mark or noted an error in tense. I was soon being asked by my friends to help them out with their upcoming essays. My passion grew once I entered the publishing world.

There is a particular attitude you need as an editor, that being you want to make a story the best it can be. When someone sends in a manuscript or is getting a book published, you must remember that not only are they a person, but this is something they poured time and creativity into. There must be a balance between critique and respect. Being a writer myself, I understand the bond authors not only have with their story but with their characters. It makes my job both easier and harder. I know how important their story is to them while simultaneously understanding that no manuscript is perfect. The key is to make sure your comments are helping the story and are not outright statements with no background or drawn from personal feelings.

An editor-author bond is a delicate one. It involves placing something important into the hands of someone you may not always know. A bad editor can ruin an author’s experience, making them hesitant to submit their work again as well as wary of any comments made down the line. That is the last thing I want to happen. I want to be able to give critique that is in the best interest of the story as well as open a dialogue between me and the author. Editing does not need to be a battle, though scrambling to finish edits by a deadline or for an entire manuscript can be overwhelming and make you down thirty cups of coffee.

One of the other things I keep in mind is what document I am working on. I edit both academic and creative texts, each requiring a different eye. For academic texts, I have to make sure the thesis aligns with the overall content of the paper, if the task prompts are being followed, if the sentences add to the message or are fillers. For creative texts, I’m paying attention to content, if rules of a magical word make sense, if characters are doing what their personalities support. The task comes down to: what is expected from each text and does it get there? If not, how can I help?

Books rely on editors to catch mistakes and plot holes the author cannot. It is what transforms one’s story from the first draft to the copy that ends up on shelves. This is never something to be taken lightly and it’s definitely something I remind myself of. When reading over a text, a couple of hundred different files open up in my head paying attention to grammar rules, the plot of the story, sentence structure. It’s like standing on one of those exercise balls while juggling a set of knives. Okay, maybe not so much knives, but you get the picture. The author-editor bond requires a mutual amount of effort and teamwork. I am always willing to put in my part as long as the author is too. Critique can be scary and it is a hundred percent okay to take a breather in order to look over everything. Even coming to me to talk it out is a big factor of said relationship.

At the end of the day, my job as an editor is to help the authors involved and get one’s story where it needs to be.

Xx

Megan

Short Stories & Editing Tips

Hey Readers & Writers,

Today I’m taking Monday blogging seriously for I have two posts to shove at you. Okay, I’m not really going to shove them at you. I’m going to politely ask you to check them out if you’d like.

The first post is a guest post on Kate Foster’s blog where I discuss how I write short stories, where the ideas come from, as well as why I sometimes prefer writing them over full fledged novels. Since this is a well debated topic in the writing world, I figured I would offer my perspective. That post can be found here.

The second matter of business I am sharing today is the third completed manuscript analysis on The Inkwell Council. Justine and Ismael tackle large issues such as the message of one’s story and how to convey said message, while I tackle how to convey a character’s thoughts without your grammar suffering in the process. That post can be found here.

I hope you enjoy them both and they help offer some insight in the writing and editing world.

Xx

Megan

Gilded Cage: A Review

Hello Reader & Writers,

I was lucky to win an ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James from VDBookVogi. Feel free to check out their site here. This YA book is due for release on February 14th, 2017. I will keep this review mostly spoiler free, so you don’t need to close the tab.

The plot centers around two kinds of people in the world: Equals and commoners. The Equals are humans who possess magical gifts called Skill. The families that have Skill are aristocrats, who also have money, power, and seats of government. The political and social strata of the world are set up like an alternative Victorian England.

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From my instagram, Written-Infinities

In this society, the Equals are free, but commoners have to do slave years, where they work for ten years and only then are they given full benefits of society. Commoners are deemed citizens before this time, but completing slave years opens up further doors for them. My main problem with this set up was it didn’t make sense for Equals to have slaves or this set up in society when they have powers that can complete all these tasks not only quickly, but without having to exert much effort on their own behalf. In a way, it has made them lazy, some choosing to not use their Skill often at all. The Equals claim it is so they can govern, but it’s clear they can do both with how powerful the majority of them are. If anything, it makes more sense that they want to keep this divide because they feel they are better than commoners.

My other issue with the book was a lot of history  was thrown into the early chapters, making it a bit difficult to muddle through and pin down when it happened. I did complete the book, and wound up enjoying it, but that was because a lot of the history gets teased out more efficiently in the later chapters.

I was hesitant at first when I saw this book had multiple POVs. These can either work really well or wind up giving away too much or complicating the book. Vic James did a great job of balancing what she was giving away and what you as the reader were going to find out. You are able to get a glance into not only the life of commoners, but the aristocrats as well, each holding notable and different personalities. It is through these POVs that the history of the world comes together, each character having their bits of the puzzle to share.

The view points that hold most of the story are Luke’s and Abi’s, a commoner brother and sister who undergo two very separate experiences. I loved Luke for he grappled with the complications of morality versus following his family. He finds it in himself to question how things are. Abi, on the other hand, tries to use the system in order to benefit her and her family. She is the leader who tries to keep things in order, but she realizes how the picture is not always black and white. The other POVs shift between members, or those involved with, the noble Jardine family. I found myself intrigued in all of these tales too for the Jardine siblings clash with their own agendas and you have a family navigating a politically charged climate. They’re not all good people, but it is worth diving into their heads and experiences.

Once I got past the early chapters, I was hooked into the book. I wanted to learn more about the politics, what secrets the aristocratic society had, how Abi and Luke were going to make it in a world that was geared against them. By the end, I was freaking out because Vic James throws some dark stuff in there that made my jaw drop. The book makes up for the majority of its complications in the beginning through its characters and in depth glances at this unfair world. It is heavily political and deals without a lot of questions involving human worth, class divide, and corruption.

Overall, this gets 4/5 stars from me and I’m looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.

Xx

Megan

When The Moon Was Ours: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I decided quite recently that I would start doing book reviews on my blog. The first will be dedicated to When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. This review will be spoiler free so if you haven’t read it yet, there is no need to click away.

I chose this book because it was the first book I read in 2017 that really hooked me. I nearly forgot to get off the train.

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Taken from my instagram, Written Infinites.

My biggest disclaimer about the book is it may not be for everyone. Anna-Marie McLemore has a unique style of prose, one that feels like poetry and fairytale wrapped into one. There is a lot of description dedicated to nature, colors, and spices. Instead of prose that is
straight to the point, she guides the reader through beautiful images. I found myself unable to put the book down. I was in a trance, seeing picture after picture in mind. It brought me to life, almost like a story ripped from a painting. She connects a lot of emotions to nature and different shades of color. You will feel everything, not just in your heart, but through your senses.

The story follows best friends Miel and Sam. A water tower collapses in a small town and Miel comes out of it. At first the town is horrified; they see Miel as a feral creature that has breached the safety of their town. Sam, who is a child equally as young as Miel, approaches her and tells her that it will be okay. From there, the two grow into teenagers and that is when the majority of the story takes place.

This book is rather odd, keep that in mind. It is rooted in fantasy. Miel has the ability to grow roses from her wrists. She has secrets that she has yet to tell and face herself. Sam creates and draws moon in order to comfort Miel. He too is hiding something, that Miel and his mother know, but it takes a personal journey to truly come to terms with it. Aracely, who is Miel’s guardian, is able to cast lovesickness away from broken hearts. The Bonner sisters, a well known family in this town, are able to make boys fall in love with them as they please. They don’t know what the word ‘no’ means. There is also the antagonism that comes from small town setting. Everyone knows everyone so gossip runs wild as to prejudices.

Anna-Marie McLemore takes you far away from reality, which I loved, but also keeps bits and pieces of reality too. She captures intimate feelings of love, self-identity, family, revenge, friendship, and bravery. From the Author’s Note she leaves in the book, you learn she has a close relationship with one of the main plots in the book. I will not say what, but read the Author’s Note, and learn her closeness to some of the characters she created. Me, as a reader, I felt the sincerity. I felt the rawness. I felt what it’s like to not be what you want to be or struggle with who you are. Anna-Marie McLemore does not shy away from diving into the depths of her characters – a brutal honesty that I admire and I believe other readers will as well.

If you want to try something different, leave normalcy behind, read this book. It entrances you. The characters are beautifully diverse and strong. You will root for Miel and Sam through every page.

Let me know, if you have read this book, your thoughts below. I would love to discuss this book further. If not, consider picking it up.

It gets 5/5 roses from me. 7279c94b53437c1ecb78f56d7fe4bf2b

Xx

Megan

A Little Change Can Go A Long Way

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to 2017! I am wishing everyone a happy and healthy year. I hope all of your writing, reading, and personal goals become a reality or you get closer to obtaining them. I have a few to reach myself, my biggest one being to finish my book that I started in April of last year.

Instead of making a post about resolutions or a look back on my year, I thought I would add on to my young adult series by sharing a personal story. It’s a positive one and I figured we all couldn’t go wrong with some inspiration and good vibes.

Anyone who has gone to college or experienced education in any form knows a teacher can be a big influence as to whether a class is enjoyable or miserable, despite the material. One also knows how rigid a set curriculum can be, especially when it has been repeated time and time again or contains subject matter that doesn’t feel relevant to contemporary culture. I found myself thinking that a lot as I went through an education in humanities – reading books in the romantic and medieval era. I always managed to find one or two per lecture that I liked, but I also yearned to read something current. They could be equally discussed and valued as literature from previous centuries.

It was why I was intrigued when I was signing up for classes and I saw a seminar in Young Adult and Children’s literature. With a handful of praying and violent clicking, I secured myself a spot in the class. There were only twenty spots so you could say I Hunger Gamed it out.

I didn’t know what to expect when I entered the class. I knew some freshman were assigned to read The Hunger Games or Perks of Being A Wallflower (books I highly recommend). I had no idea what upperclassmen would be assigned. It turned out that when I saw the syllabus, my hopes were instantly ignited. Some of the books on the list were Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and Alice in Wonderland by  Lewis Carroll. The class experimented with picture books, graphic novels, long works, short works. My teacher did her best to not only demonstrate her love for books geared towards younger audiences, but also the different kinds of outlets that existed other than full fledged novels. She even had a guest speaker come to our class to push for diversity in literature since the numbers were not looking good.

Going to that class was always something I looked forward to because I knew the book would be worth reading and the class discussion would be alive. The class also became a therapy session, some of my peers and myself, venting issues and personal stories that remained in the classroom. It became a space that was inviting and comforting. We learned a lot about each other, but also about the variety of texts that were out there.

I was exposed to young adult books for quite a while, but for others in my class, it was their first time. They were blown away by how much creativity went into these books. I’ll use the example of Wonderstruck which was told with both full fledged illustrations and texts, the storytelling intersecting to create a cohesive children’s tale. I will also mention A Monster Calls that though had text accompanying photos would not be the same without the illustrations. The illustrations gave the story even more of a pulse. These books became the medium of which we were able to learn about the publishing world and ourselves.

My teacher had a firm belief that if children and teens were given the right books, it could make a difference in their lives and how they developed as adults. She fought for this class to be possible because she believed there needed to be more offered than standard literature classes. And my writer friends, she won, because of her passion and drive. But not only that, she made a hell of a lot of friends along the way. She was more than a teacher. She was someone who inspired, someone who challenged one’s thoughts and opened their eyes to literature.

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The reason for sharing this memory of my seminar was because just because a book is geared towards a younger audience doesn’t mean its worth suddenly goes out the window. Sometimes, we need to reawaken the kid in ourselves or maybe find something that needs maturing that we didn’t even know about. Sometimes, we need one person to show us something even if we protest or are uncertain.

Not to mention for children and teens who are struggling, a book could be the key to easing a burden, solving a problem.

So when I say I love young adult books, I think back to all the books I’ve read, but I also look back at this class that I took in college, where my mind was broadened even further and I found a teacher who understood exactly how I felt.

Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep creating.

Xx

Megan