Saturday, August 27, 2016

Today, we're delighted to welcome author Sarai Henderson to the Guestopia slot!

Here's a little about Sarai and a short excerpt from her book before we get going with the questions!

Sarai Henderson is a retired ballerina from Oregon City, Oregon, where she spends most her time chasing down her three rambunctious boys and writing on her lunch break at work. 

She enjoys DIY projects, Photography and writing on her blog about life as a mother of an autistic son. 

I pulled my hood up over my head as the rain began to pour from the skies and bounce off the sidewalk in a serene rhythm. My hands were shaking from the adrenaline that surged through my body. The hunt never got old. “All right, Bear. I’m in pursuit of the mark. Get ready.”

“About time, slow poke.” He chuckled to himself, but I wasn’t amused. Dawn had put me in a bad mood and it would take a while for it to wear off. If only he was close enough to punch, maybe I would feel better.

The sidewalk turned a corner sending me into a crowded marketplace where the people bumped shoulders more often than not. The smell of fish hit me like a ton of bricks making me crinkle my nose in disgust. There was nothing I hated more than seafood. Well, maybe large cities with all the loud voices in my head, but fish was a close second.

I dug my hands deep into my jeans pockets to keep them from shaking. Anxiety from listening to the varied streams of consciousness coursed through my body. I had to concentrate.

Dawn’s presence was moving closer through the crowd, I could feel it. Her thoughts told me that she didn’t like fish much either but this was where her contact had told her to meet him. My heart skipped a beat with the mention of another person around, possibly a telepath. Great, we didn’t have much time.

“Bear,” I shouted into the com. “She’s here to meet someone and it sounds like they’re going to send her into hiding. I need you close by. This is happening now.”

And off we go!

Is this your first published book?


What’s it called?


Which genre?

Urban fantasy/Paranormal

Which age group?

Young Adult

Is it a series or standalone?

I'm planning on a series

Are you an agented author?


Which publisher snapped up your book?

Evernight Teen

How involved have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?

I had input on my cover and the editing process, but the rest has been all up to the publisher.

Do you have another job?

Yes, I work at a bank and I'm a mother (The most important job)

Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?

Actually, Evernight was the second publisher I submitted to. I got lucky.

What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?

I was watching KillJoys on Syfy. I love that show. It was my inspiration for HUNTER.

How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?

I'm not much of a plotter, I pretty much write by the seat of my pants. I kind of knew where I wanted to go, but didn't know how I was going to get there.

Once you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into submission?

This book flowed nicely. Not like a lot of other books I've tried to write over the years.

How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?

I wrote three drafts before I let my husband read it.

Did you employ an editor/proofreader or did you have a critique partner/beta readers before you started querying?

I had a beta reader. It was my first experience with one and it really helped work out the kinks.

Roughly how many drafts did it take before you sent the manuscript off into the real world?

Five Drafts. Five long and dangerous drafts.

How many drafts until it was published?

We went through three more drafts before it was ready to publish.

Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?

Yes, very much. The characters have evolved and the story is more colorful. Its better now.

Are there any parts you’d like to change even now?

I'm pleased with it.

What part of writing do you find the easiest?

Character creation. I love coming up with interesting and relatable characters for my books.

What part do you find hardest?

Plotting, sometimes my books start out with one plot and end with another. It all gets worked out in the editing stage though.

Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?

I usually walk away for a few hours. Watch a movie or listen to music. That helps me with the thinking process.

How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?

I set my mind on one project at a time, but always have several rolling around in my head.

Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?

I think it comes easier for some people but with enough practice, anything can be learned.

How many future novels do you have planned?

Two more in this series and several that I want to start in other series.

Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?

I write a blog Confessions of an Ex-ballerina where I share my web series and reviews.

What’s the highlight of being published so far? T

he excitement of people finally reading my creation. I've waited for this moment for years and it's even better than I imagined.

Give me one writing tip that work for you.

Don't let rejection get you down. It's al part of the plan.

And one that doesn't.

Planning and spread sheets don't work for me so I don't do them.

Can you give us a clue or secret about the next book?

The next book is going to have some of the main characters old friends show up along with some new telepath abilities. It's going to be intense.

What question have you always wanted to be asked but never have? What would the answer be?

What character do you relate with best? The answer is HUNTER with a little bit of TROLL. They are both very sarcastic and loyal which fits me to a T.

Absolutely fantastic! Thank you so much for joining us today, Sarai, and we wish you the best of luck with Hunter and any future books that come along in the future!

If you want to follow Sarai and most importantly buy this fantastic book, here are some links that might help!

Social Media:

Twitter: @Shendersonbooks

Buy links:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why No One Should Ever Read YA

Another day, another think piece about how Young Adult literature is a heaping garbage fire destroying our country one teen and/or adult at a time -- from someone who's read approximately one half of one modern YA book, of course. As a YA writer and reader, I don't even feel angry anymore. I just feel sad for the writer and anyone they may have influence over.

So here's my list of 9 Reasons Why No One Should Ever Read YA

1. All of it is total crap

I mean, we all agree that writers like John Updike, Lewis Carroll, Philip Pullman, CS Lewis, SE Hinton, Maurice Sendak, J.D. Salinger, Charles Dickens, Madeleine L'Engle, William Golding, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Anne McCaffrey are the absolute worst, right? Talentless hacks, the lot of them.

2. Shaming people for what they read is a great idea

In a country where 60 percent of America's prison inmates are illiterate, the cost of illiteracy is $20 billion per year44% of American adults do not read a book in a year, and some states actually base their future need for prison beds on how well current elementary students are performing on reading tests, we should definitely be discouraging people from reading what they like.

3. Teens have terrible taste

They made The Beatles and Rolling Stones famous, after all. They're pretty much at the forefront of almost every cultural phenomenon. Maybe it's the fact that they're at the height of mental capacity with the most gray matter available compared to any other stage of life. Obviously, so tawdry.

4. Nothing can be learned from YA books

Just because they discuss social inequity, life & death, gender issues, racism, sexuality, self-confidence, suicide, consequences of choices, self-acceptance, the importance of one person, bravery, and/or the value of friendship and strong family relationships, doesn't mean they have any actual value to the reader.

5. They're totally fun, which is definitely the worst thing reading can be

Research has shown that "reading centered on reading books for fun creates kids who love to read." Who wants that? They might as well be watching reality TV, amirite? Forcing people to read books that make them feel like they're being punished, because you like it or because they're "important" is obviously the best way to make someone a reader.

6. YA books are unrealistically hopeful

Even in the darkest of dark moments, there is still hope, the feeling that everything is going to be okay. The endings are satisfying, if not necessarily happy. And if there's anything that destroys people's lives, it's closure.

7. The main characters are usually likable (even when they're flawed or even actual psychopaths)

And literally no one wants to spend hours on end with someone they actually like. Kindness, optimism, and good intentions are the absolute worst things a character could have. If you don't finish a book with the feeling that humanity doesn't deserve to continue surviving, the author has misled you.

8. YA books change lives (and change is bad?)

People have reported that YA books have helped them overcome depression, gain self confidence, be more open-minded, make real-life friends, empowered them to stand up for themselves, cope with tragedy, inspired them to pursue a hobby, and even *gasp* read more. But change is bad, so that's terrifying.

9. Accessibility is for plebes

Books that entertain, keep your interest, and can be understood upon the first read might as well be printed on the backs of cereal boxes*. If they can't read at a PhD level, they shouldn't be reading at all! If you have to read a book less than four times to fully understand what the author was trying to say, it's not real literature.

*Actually, can we make this happen? Oh man, could I do with a fab short story on the back of my Cheerios. And they have the money to pay the writers!

*sigh* That was exhausting. Here's another idea: How about we just let people read what they want to read and not shame them for it? That could be fun.

Sarah Nicolas is a recovering mechanical engineer, library event planner, and author. She lives in Orlando with a 60-lb mutt who thinks he’s a chihuahua. Sarah writes YA novels as Sarah Nicolas and romance under the name Aria Kane. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing volleyball or drinking wine. Find her on Twitter @sarah_nicolas.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Book Birthday: KEEPING HER SECRET, an LGBT summercamp romance

Happy Book Birthday to Keeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicolas!

All’s fair in love and summertime prank wars

The last person Riya Johnson expected to run into at her new summer camp is Courtney Chastain—her childhood best friend and the girl who broke her heart after a secret, mind-blowing, life-altering kiss. She definitely didn’t expect to be sharing a bunk bed with her for four long weeks.

Courtney has what every girl wants—she’s beautiful, rich, and the object of every boy’s desire at Camp Pine Ridge. Too bad none of them make her feel an iota of what Riya’s kiss did all those years ago. But Courtney needs to uphold appearances at all costs—even if it means instigating an all-out prank war with Riya as her main target.

Neither girl can stop thinking about the other…but that doesn’t mean they can give up past hurts and take a chance on a future together.

Read the first chapter at the Entangled Teen website!

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

What readers are saying

★★★★★"This book deserves all the praise and then some, one of my favorite reads of this year, and maybe even my life. So many parts inspired me, moved me and just made me want more." –Olivia Channel,

★★★★★"Keeping Her Secret is one of those magical books that keeps you turning pages long after you should have gone to bed. I recommend the book completely, and if I were a teacher I would place it on my required summer reading list." –Bonajean McAneney, Goodreads Reviewer

★★★★★"I really loved this book. It was such an honest look at young women learning to accept their sexuality and being comfortable enough to express it." –Bette Hansen, Goodreads Reviewer

About the Author

Sarah Nicolas is a recovering mechanical engineer, library event planner, and author. She lives in Orlando with a 60-lb mutt who thinks he’s a chihuahua. Sarah writes YA novels as Sarah Nicolas and romance under the name Aria Kane. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing volleyball or drinking wine. She is a contributor for Book Riot and at YAtopia.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Writing Advice

Here's the thing, there's a lot of writing advice out there. Tons. Do a simple Google search and millions of results will ring right up. However, here's the question: how do you know which advice is worth following? For me, this is so subjective, but I do have a way that helps me narrow down which advice to follow, so I thought I'd share it with you.

1) Is the advice from a credible source (publisher, editor, agent, published/agented author, intern, literary critic, master craftsman, teacher, etc, etc, etc.)? This will help weed out a lot of the well meaning but inexperienced people offering advice. Yes, they might have great advice, but better to start off with credible, reliable sources.

2) Reference books on craft by established writers/authors. Will they all agree? No. But are they a good place to start? Yes. I like Donald Maass's books, and Stephen King's. The head of my agency (Carole Blake of Blake Friedmann Agency UK) has a great craft book, too. Read around and see what appeals to you.

3) Do you like what the person writes? If they're published, check out their work. If they're a friend...check out their work. Most authors are more than happy to share a snippet of their own work if you're interested in seeing it, and it can help you decide whether their techniques and craft skills will be something that will benefit you.

4) Follow your gut but be mindful. Don't confuse your gut instinct with inexperienced resistance. If you're sure it's not for you, let the advice go. If you're not sure, get the opinions of other people you trust.

So that's it. Pretty simple but it works for me. Hope it helps you in some way, too!

Happy writing!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

How to Succeed at a Writers Conference

This month I’m attending the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference. This will be my fifth time in six years—my ninth (or tenth?) conference overall—and I’m always excited. I’ll connect with writer friends I may have never met in person, meet writers I admire (if I get up the nerve to actually speak to them!), sit at the feet of my mentors, and soak up amazing writing lessons and advice.
But all the awesomeness comes with exhaustion, pressure, and stress. Pitching to editors (or agents), constantly being in social situations (and feeling like the friendless one at the cool kids party), and having to find a place to sit at every. Single. Meal.
Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t stress out anyone but me. I think camp when I was eleven scarred me for life. I dreaded every meal during that week out of fear that I’d accidentally put my elbows on the table and be sentenced to walking around the dining hall holding hands with a BOY! Terrifying. In my nightmares, I can still hear the little song that accompanied the punishment.
But I digress.
Writers conferences are great opportunities for learning and networking and connecting with people who get you and your imaginary friends. But they can also be overwhelming, even for seasoned, repeat-attenders. Here are my top three tips for successful survival:
  1. Pick your top 2 or 3 workshops or sessions, and give yourself permission to skip any others. The conferences I’ve attended record the sessions, so if I want to “attend” a session that conflicts with another or that session doesn’t hit my top two or three and I really need some downtime because my brain is too overloaded to absorb anything else, I can buy the sessions and listen at my leisure. Because at some point, you will probably feel done in. Which leads me to . . .
  2. Don’t feel guilty because you need an afternoon napping in your room or an escape to a cafe alone to read or reflect. I spent most of the last writers conference in my cabin working on edits. I attended my top workshops and the keynote speaker sessions, but mostly, I took advantage of being on a vacation from real life and in a place where someone else cooked my meals. That was the best use of my time at the conference, and my extensive rewrites were completed and turned in on time. At other conferences I’ve ended up sleeping an afternoon away because of a combination of jet lag, overstimulation, and too much people time. The first few conferences, I felt guilty for skipping class until I realized that guilt left me even more exhausted! Now I get more out of conferences because I plan for downtime.
  3. Remember everyone you meet is just a person. Like you. And probably just as nervous and awkward about meeting strangers. That goes for the famous writers and teachers and for the editors and agents. They’re people, eating the same meals as you, staying in the same hotel as you, subjected to the same exhausting schedule. Don’t be afraid to gush admiration at a fellow author. Don’t be scared to say hi to an editor or agent. Don’t throw up before a pitching appointment. Just don’t do any of those things in the bathroom! Unless you can’t avoid that last one, then please, do that in the bathroom. But seriously, who doesn’t want to hear how awesome their books are? And the editors and agents don’t bite. Take a deep breath, put on a smile, and relax. I know, easier said than done. Just remember, everyone is as freaked out as you! And since they’re all busy freaking out, they won’t even notice that you are too.
At a writers conference, the schedule and the interaction wear me out, but by choosing two or three can’t miss sessions, giving myself permission—and not feeling guilty about!—skipping other events, and remembering to relax have helped me have a more enjoyable experience.

What are your favorite writers conference? Any tips you’ve found for getting more out of a conference?