Mercedes Fox ~ Author

My Writing Blog

Tag: teen paranormal

Meet Author Katie Jaros

Howdy my lovelies! Welcome again to Interview FoxSeat featuring author Katie Jaros

Katie Jaros is an author with an obsession for the mysterious and beautiful. When she’s not writing, she’s busy chasing after one of her Valkyrie-like children or secret-eating all the Redvines. She lives in Seattle with her family. Lost Souls is her first novel.

Book Blurb:  Title: Lost Souls: Book 1 of the Lost Souls Trilogy

Genre: Paranormal fiction, YA

Blurb: As a hard partying senior at Sacred Heart High School, Christa Nichols was used to people telling her she was bad at making choices. But when a car accident awakens her to the secret world of Angels and Demons, she realizes for the first time the weight her decisions truly have. Now caught in the middle of a life-long rivalry between a classic-rock lovingLost-Souls_CoverDraft Guardian Angel and a Demonic club promoter, Christa won’t just need to use her wits to survive… she’ll need them to save her mother’s soul. Lost Souls takes you on a journey through a world where Guardian Angels masquerade as the homeless and business-savvy Demons trade souls like they’re on the NYSE. Full of romance, horror, and food trucks; Lost Souls is fun at its most Divine.

If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it?  N/A… “Katie Jaros” would be the worst pen name ever!

Why do you write?  To get the voices out of my head! Ha…kidding…kind of. Writing has been something I’ve done my whole life. I can remember the first word I ever wrote by myself with a pencil, (Hot), and it just sort of took off from there. It’s always felt very natural to express myself on the page, either through dialogue and fiction, or in essay form. I suppose that goes with the territory when you have a big mouth— feeding the need to share, communicate, create. And while I’m not wild about the idea of fame, the impulse to have other people read my work has always been prevalent. My stories were never going to stay hidden in a diary somewhere for my grandchildren to find cleaning out an old trunk or whatever…not my style!  I write because I have to—to not would be death and I pride myself on being a survivor.

When did you decide to become a writer?  I decided to pursue writing professionally right before my thirtieth birthday…I had just had my third baby and I knew it was something I needed to do for myself. Deciding to become a writer wasn’t the hard part…writing the first draft took that prize. But it was a good choice, one I’m glad I was brave enough to make.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  Depends… writing a reader-ready version of Lost Souls took 2 years and 3 drafts, but it’s follow up, Hellbound took 6 months. I read through a list of writer tips by Stephen King a while back, and he said it should never take you longer than 1 season, (Autumn, Winter, etc.), to complete a first draft. While that may work for him, I find the idea of completing a first draft in 3 months very daunting and will just say “it takes whatever it takes”…time…blood…a bottle of whiskey and a couple fish hooks…do what you gotta do! We’re not making doughnuts here.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  Me coming home one day and crying over my beautiful newborn while she nursed…and not crying tears of joy. What should have been a very special time in my life had been overshadowed by this raw need to make something of myself…beyond my home, family….which was a truly beautiful life that I never wanted to take for granted again. Writing gave me that balance that I needed. I bought myself a new laptop that day, (I had never bought myself a computer before), and started working. 3 years later, I haven’t stopped.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  I try to write every day…(I will take a weekend or vacation every now and again)…I’m at my best when I can sit down in the morning and really hammer it out for a couple hours. If I don’t get that though, I have no problem parking it in the afternoon or evening and getting down to it. I have 3 young children at home!—and for those of you who know what that’s like, you quickly learn to not squander whatever quiet time you can find. I am not someone who needs perfect circumstances to create— my laptop and a cup of coffee do nicely.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I think I am more open to taking risks with my manuscript pages than I was in the beginning. You know, right after you finish that first draft of your first novel ever, you CLING to that thing like a piece of driftwood out in open water. The thought of changing it, in any capacity, is horrifying. Forget moving chapters or cutting characters, the mere suggestion of altering a single line of dialogue is sacrilege! And I get it…you worked so hard on just getting to that point, of having a complete beginning, middle, and end, (God willing)… it’s your baby. But if you’re smart, you have a great group of beta readers, aka, your best friends in the history of the world, who can give it to you straight and give you that feedback all writers desperately need. And maybe you cry a little after that first round of feedback; but you want to be a great writer so here we go. Take the note, leave the note, BE RESPECTFUL and tell your readers thank you!—and at least think about making changes. That’s a tough step for a lot of writers, but one I’ve grown to enjoy. I love feedback now.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  Only to the echo of Sesame Street wafting from the living room to the kitchen where I’ve set up shop. Otherwise, no. I prefer not to have other sound going.

What have you written?  I have written 2 of the 3 books in my Lost Souls trilogy. The first has been published, the second is on its way. I have written many a short story and essay in my time, and keep a regular blog at katiejaros.com.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  I didn’t always outline, but now I do it obsessively! A lot of times, a book will start off as a series of scenes in my head, like watching a movie. But I have to take those few seconds of mental pictures to a 200-400+ page novel. So yes, I outline. I do it for you, readers! No one likes a rambly plot…like listening to your girlfriend talk about the dream she had last night…ugh. You love her, but Snoresville! Save everyone, yourself especially, sometime and type up some notes.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  I am not a graphic designer— the only program I know how to use on my computer is Word!—so I found a design firm I am in love with. Damon Za…fantastic work. (damonza.com). Getting the mock ups may be more fun than actually writing the book itself.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?  I know a lot of authors hate even muttering the word “marketing”, but I’ve really come around to it. You have to— no matter who your publisher is. I’ve found the best way to boost sales is similar to making friends. Get out there, meet new people, and be open. Don’t lead with your book,  if someone is truly interested in getting to know you, it’ll come up on it’s own. And then don’t insist they buy it- yuck! I’ve found most people like to read and are very curious the minute you tell them you’re an author and will probably pick up a copy on their own. I like this approach because it’s casual and low pressure, and I usually make a new friend as well which is awesome. I would be okay if all my readers were people I knew personally…maybe that makes me weird but this world is full of kind, interesting individuals and I love talking and getting to know them. Whether they buy my book or not I feel fortunate to have connected with another human being.

Any advice for aspiring authors?  Write every day. I’m not the first person to say it. But that’s what separates the wanna-do-somethings from the do-somethings. Be a do-something. It’s not glamourous. And it’s hard. And we need to come up with a better phrase than “a do-something”. Editor!!

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?  When creating Christa, I wanted to make someone that everyone could relate to. Particularly in my genre, (paranormal, YA), I feel there is a tendency for female leads to be a bit bookish… pretty, but chaste…unless it’s a post-apocalyptic story and then replace “bookish” with “superhero badass”. I wanted a girl like me— one who’s high school record was less than pristine, does stupid stuff because, oh my God, SHE’S 18 and that’s what you do when you’re 18…and very often you’re smacking your head going “what the Hell, Christa??!!” while reading—but you root for her just the same. She’s still a hero, in a sort of punk rock way. We all make mistakes, and seeing that imperfection in a main character like Christa is endearing.

Where do your ideas come from?  All over— other books, songs on the radio, movies, street signs, hiking trips…I’ll hear a funny laugh or see something weird on the news…inspiration is everywhere.

What is the hardest thing about writing?  Putting it out there. Feeling enough self-confidence that even if it’s shredded by the public, it’s still yours and you made it and you’re proud of it. Follow the wise words of Willie Nelson and just play for yourself. You always win that way.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?  Getting it all out on the page. Hellbound (book 2 in the series) is such a BIG story. I knew exactly how I wanted to have it all go down, and the actual writing went very quickly, but I kept wanting to get to the next part—I couldn’t type fast enough! Had to hold back from rushing it and just enjoy the process.

What is your favorite movie or TV show?  I don’t watch a lot of TV, (I’m a big fan of World News on BBC), but my two favorite movies are Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and The Big Lebowski. Both are pure gold!

What is the current book you are promoting? Lost Souls is currently out on the shelves and Hellbound: Book 2 in the Lost Souls Trilogy will be released on Nov. 1st, 2016.

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? Have to check out my website in the coming months- one is on it’s way! MF: Take note Lovelies!!

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? Toss-up between Daniel and Alden…depends if I’m in a Betty or Veronica kind of mood.

Who is your least favorite character and why? Mama loves all her children equally!

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? People that would be entirely age inappropriate at this time…because I’m old!:) I have K-Stew as Christa, because I’m a major Twihard- (haters gonna hate, but I wear my badge proudly), or someone else in that dark haired, light eyed sexy/surly vein. Daniel is forever Aaron Tveit (Les Miserables, Graceland, Braindead) in my mind, and I picture Thomas Dekker, whom some of you may remember from a little show called The Secret Circle (which should have NEVER been cancelled after 1 season!!!) as Alden, sporting an Irish accent, natch.

What is your next project? Ascension: Book 3 in the Lost Souls Trilogy…third and final! I’m also working on a little side project right now tentatively titled Silence on the Sound: An Emerald City Mystery #1.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Of all time? Tough…Rabo Karabekian from Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard. I found a copy of this book at a garage sale in college and it has been in my top 5 ever since. Rabo is a 71 year old grumpy abstract expressionist, who finally, has decided to let people into his life. It’s a funny and poignant story with great characters, Rabo eating scenery left and right. I’m a huge Vonnegut fan and this book is tops, for sure.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? This question will make or break my cool factor, I can feel it…hm. My go-to for this was John Lennon for a couple decades, but I don’t know. Still love him, still love the Beatles…but I don’t think there is anyone “famous” from history that I want to meet anymore. I don’t feel the need to meet my dead ancestors, so I’m going to go with the guy who made the best tuna sandwich in the history of ever, and he/she invites me to lunch. That would be great.

Do you have any fur babies to brag about? Ha! I have a sweet little reformed stray tortoiseshell cat named Phoebe Van Halen who took up residence about 9 years ago and, except for a jaunt into the outside world for 3 days last Summer, has been by my side ever since. She has a clipped ear, broken teeth, and is an excellent (silent) writing partner, keeping me company on the kitchen table every day while I work. She’s here now and has requested not to be photographed. Very elusive.

Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like? I haven’t read the whole thing through front to back…but the day my hard copy version of Lost Souls showed up was very cool. I still occasionally pick it up and flip to a random page, read a couple paragraphs and put it back smugly…feeling quite proud of myself.

What book are you currently reading or just finished? I am backed up on book club books, (typical), but right now I’m reading Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs…also stuck in the first half of Outlander, and enjoying Rhonda Rousey’s autobiography. I like to have a couple books going at any given time.

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others? Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me with Apples…it came out in 2001 so it’s not new by any stretch— but I am really into cookbooks that also tell a story. I love Anthony Bourdain’s work— his writing is so funny and peppered with colorful tidbits from his life in the restaurant business- (see what I did there? Alliteration!)—always a fun, quick read. I’m primarily a fiction writer who loves to read non-fiction. I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but it’s just me. And I also love to cook…and eat. So- check these guys out.

Tell us something unique about you. While I have published books and raised a family and climbed mountains in my spare time, my life’s goal is to grow pumpkins— like- in a patch in my garden. Several seasons in, and I have yet to achieve that goal. I don’t know if our climate is right for it- kind of an uphill battle. Had a lot of luck with strawberries this year, so I should probably just give up the ghost and stick with what I know…but- I really, REALLY want like, 20 big gorgeous pumpkins for Halloween, every year, and I always end up having to go to Safeway and raiding their stock. Sad.:)

How can readers discover more about you and you work?  You can check out my website, katiejaros.com for news and updates on my upcoming books; all of which are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks. We’ve got links!

Many many thanks Katie! For more about the fabulous Katie and her work, follow the links below:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / BarnesandNoble

Meet Author Chani Lynn Feener aka Tempest C. Avery

Howdy lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Chani Lynn Feener aka Tempest C. Avery

Chani Lynn Feener has wanted to be a writer since the age of ten during fifth grade story time. She majored in Creative Writing at Johnson State College in Vermont, and graduated in 2012. To pay her bills, she has worked many odd jobs, including, but not limited to, telemarketing, order picking in a warehouse, and filling ink cartridges. When she isn’t writing, she’s binging TV shows, drawing, or frequenting zoos/aquariums. Chani is also the author of self-published teen paranormal series, The Underworld Saga, originally written under the penname Tempest C. Avery. She currently resides in Connecticut, but lives on Goodreads.com.

Book blurb: Unhinged is a teen paranormal.

Spencer Perry lost everything the day her boyfriend died. Even when he came back as a ghost, she was never able to return to her old self. Determined to find a way to bring both of them back–him from the dead and her from her depression–Spencer hops a ride with a Reaper across the river to the Underworld where she meets the god of the dead. Hadrian isn’t what she expected Hades to be like, but when he agrees to a deal that can get her Micah back, she puts all caution aside and accepts. Too bad she didn’t realize that she’d also just accepted a lot more then one gorgeous yet frustrating god. Bad things are happening all around her, and now she not only has to worry about keeping Micah’s ghost status a secret from their friends, but also figure out who’s behind all of the accidents. All signs point towards Hadrian, but something about that just doesn’t feel right to her. Something that she hopes has nothing to do with her growing attraction towards him.

If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it? I only recently switched over to my real name because I’m going to be traditionally published. I’ve been using a pen name up until this point to make it easier to focus on my writing, and writing what I want to without having to worry about, say, a boss seeing and thinking it ridiculous. Basically, until I could make it my actual career, I didn’t want use my real name. I chose Tempest because that’s what it felt like was in me, and writing was my way of getting it out. Avery I decided on because I’ve always loved the name. And the middle initial C. was to help me transition to my actual name if/when I finally got picked up by a publishing house.

Why do you write? I love being able to tell stories, and put some of the made up places and things in my head down on paper. It’s a great outlet whenever I feel overwhelmed by anything; it helps ground me. I also remember what it was like when I was younger and needed an escape, and how books were the greatest form of getting out of my own head for a while. I’ve always hoped that I could do that for someone else, help them just step out of their life and their troubles for even twenty minutes.

When did you decide to become a writer? I decided I wanted to become a writer when I was nine. It was the middle of story time and my fifth grade teacher was reading BFG to us and suddenly it just clicked for me that someone had to have written it. Someone wrote it, and now thousands of people all over the world read it. I loved that idea that so many people could read the same thing and have different reactions and feelings for it.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? Not long. The first draft always comes really quickly, especially if I’m excited about it. A few I’ve finished within two weeks, others take me about a month or so. But it’s usually not longer than that. Again, that’s if I’m really into what I’m writing. There have been times where a story got away from me and I was no longer excited. I’ve got at least six unfinished projects that I may never touch again.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen. It was awful. Seriously, the worst. But after knowing that it was something I wanted since I was nine, I woke up one day and figured I might as well get started. Practice makes perfect, after all, and I realized that I’d probably write a lot of crap before I wrote something decent. Since then I’ve written over twenty books, not all of them good.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I write when I feel like writing. When the story starts distracting me so that I can’t focus on anything but writing, that’s when I do it. I try not to ever force it, or over think it. I’m lucky that I’ve gotten to a place where I’m comfortable doing that, and I know that I don’t have to beat myself up over writers block—which happens.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I went to college and studied Creative Writing, which helped immensely. Having the correct tools and surrounding myself with likeminded people all reaching for the same goal helped me to focus and evolve as a writer. In comparison to that first book written when I was fifteen, my newer stuff is gold. That’s not to say it’s necessarily good, but my craft is definitely better than it was.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I’ll sometimes listen to music, depending on if there’s anyone else in the house, just so I don’t get distracted. Usually I’ll pick one song that mirrors the mood of the book I’m writing and I put it on repeat. When I’m burned out/hit one of those writer blocks, I’ll watch TV and or a movie to sort of recharge creatively. Watching other people’s stories—or reading them—helps inspire me to get back to working on my own.

What have you written? Currently, I’ve got a teen paranormal saga available, the first book of which is titled Unhinged. I’ve also got a book that’s going to be published by Swoon Reads next summer that’s in the editing process. The title of that has been changed, but it was originally Prisoner of Glass. There are also two more books available on Swoonreads.com right now that can be read for free for the time being.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I like to have a basic concept, like, this is going to be about aliens, or werewolves, or Norse mythology. Then I like to get a couple of the characters down, just their names really. The main character I flesh out a bit more, maybe decide on hair and eye color and whatnot. Other than that, I just go for it. Most of the time I have no idea what’s going to happen next. Sometimes a twist will just happen and I’ll have to sit back and be like, “Oh, so that’s why this person said/did that four chapters back!” I think those are the best, the books that just pour out of you.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? Up until this point I was designing them myself. My next book I won’t be because for books that are traditionally published covers are usually handled by the publishing house.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? For Unhinged I did a lot of self promotion using sites like Goodreads, and I offered up a lot of giveaways where people had the chance to win the book. I also posted certain books for free up on sites like Wattpad, just to help build a small following.

Any advice for aspiring authors? Just keep writing, and don’t make excuses. Everyone feels like they’re too busy to write, I know I do half the time as well, but you can only lean on that for so long. Sometimes, even if I only have five minutes, I’ll make sure I type a thought down or a line or two. Half the notes on my phone are snippets of books I’m currently working on. Even if it’s just a sentence a day, that’s still more than you had before, and you can’t go anywhere if you’re doing nothing.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? The main character in Unhinged is a girl named Spencer Perry, whose boyfriend recently died in an accident. She decides that she’s done grieving, and that there has to be a way to bring him back. This leads her to the Underworld, and has her making a bargain with Hades. I think the fact that she’s willing to risk everything is what makes her special, though, I’m pretty biased.

Where do your ideas come from? All sorts of things. Sometimes I’ll read a book and think, what if this happened instead? And then an entirely different story will steam from that. Other times I’ll see a fight scene on TV and think, I’d love to write a really badass character who knows martial arts, and another story will come of that. I’ve looked at a starling before and thought, huh, how can I make a book out of that.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Pushing yourself to just do it. Like I said earlier, I’m lucky that now I’m comfortable sitting back and going a day or two without writing because I know I’ll eventually have that spark again, but I think for most people merely sitting down and committing is hard. Even if it turns out to be crap in the end, writing a book is writing a book. I think everyone who wants to do it, should. After actually finding the time to write it, editing is probably the next hardest. Personally, I hate rewrites.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? I put a lot of myself and my own experiences/thoughts in my latest book, which isn’t usually something that I do. At least, not to that extent. Writing it, because of that, was extremely hard and I had to keep stopping and asking myself if I was writing more crap or if it was somewhat decent. It’s hard to put so much of yourself into something that you know other people are eventually—hopefully—going to read and judge. I have to keep telling myself that if even one person likes it, it was worth it.

What is your favorite movie or TV show? My favorite movie is Four Brothers, and my favorite TV show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. MF: I love Buffy! And Four Brothers is a movie I can watch over and over and never get tired of it.

Which writers inspire you? All of them. Anytime in the past when I felt like giving up, I just took a breath and thought back on all of the books in the library or books store. If they could do it, surely I could to. I think that alone, the fact that they worked hard and achieved their dream, is inspiration enough.

What is the current book you are promoting? I guess technically I’m supposed to be promoting the book that’s getting published, but…I don’t think I can release the new title yet, and because it’s still undergoing edits there’s really not much I can say. It’s about aliens and a girl who gets mistake for one.

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? The story I just finished is about a girl who travels between this shadow world that she doesn’t believe is real. After her best friend’s death, she basically think she’s hallucinating and doesn’t care because it helps her to cope. Then she finds out the world is actually real, and that there are dark things lurking within. The book is titled Ulalume, and the shadow world is vaguely described as the setting in that poem.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? I guess I’ll go back to Unhinged for this question, because it’s so readily available. I think my favorite character in that is Hadrian, aka Hades, because he’s so clever yet so easily distracted by the heroine, Spencer.

Who is your least favorite character and why? That would probably have to be Micah, Spencer’s deceased boyfriend, because even as I was writing him I realized how wrong for her he was. But the heart wants what the heart wants. Even fake hearts.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Gansey from Maggie Stiefvater’s the Raven Cycle. I just love his character.

Do you have any fur babies to brag about? I have two cats, Sylar and Mystik. They’re the best. Sylar plays fetch, and they both come when I call them. Sometimes they think they’re dogs, clearly. MF: Adorable!

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? Yes! I felt less so when I had a pen name, but now that I know all of my books are going to be under my actually name…yes. It’ll be pretty awkward if any of my friends or family reads my work.

What are some of your favorite books and why? I have a bunch of favorites, but my all time would probably be The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. All of these books focus on different aspects of what it means to be human, and how people react and deal with the hand that they’re dealt. I love books with characters who seem like real people, and who handle conflict in realistic ways.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? I love them both. For me, self-publishing was as way to get my name out there (or at least my work, seeing as how I used a pen name initially) and acted as a first step towards getting traditionally published. I mean, let’s face it, we all want to see our books on shelves at Barnes and Noble or the like. That being said, while, for me anyway, getting traditionally published has always been the goal, self-publishing is a great way to discover new authors and stories that I might not have gotten the chance to otherwise. There are a ton of indie books that I’ve read over the years and immediately wondered why they hadn’t gotten picked up by a publishing house.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? I think when you initially tell someone that you self-publish there isn’t a lot of reaction, good or otherwise. Usually it’s met with, “Oh, that’s nice”. This is probably because of how easy it’s been made over the past few years. Literally anyone can self publish their book, whether it’s good or bad. Unfortunately, you’ve got to shift through to find the gems, and a lot of people don’t have the patience for that so they avoid indie books altogether.

What book are you currently reading or just finished? I’m currently reading The Rose and the Dagger, by Renee Ahdieh.

What do your fans mean to you? I absolutely love hearing from people who’ve read one of my books. It makes my day when they go out of their way to post a comment, or even just ask a question. It definitely helps me want to keep writing.

Tell us something unique about you. I love collecting things. I have almost 400 Funko Pop, over 30 book inspired candles, a couple thousand books, and about 107 shot glasses from around the world. I also have 12 tattoos, and I guess they’re sort of a collection. In a way. MF: Wow! I have over 400 TY Beanie Babies and 6 tattoos.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? The best way is through my blog which is: http://tempestchani.blogspot.com/

Or my instagram account which is @TempestChani . I post a lot of pictures of books and my cats though, fair warning.

There ya have it folks! For more about the fabulous Chani follow the links below:

Website / Twitter / Goodreads / Smashwords / Instagram

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