Interview with Author Kate Brauning

KateBrauning:

Today Ashleigh Galvin is interviewing me– read on to hear about the very first piece of fiction I wrote, my advice for new writers, and how much I love my cover!

Originally posted on Ashleigh Galvin:

YA Author Kate Brauning is my companion this week as we sit back and have a chat about her upcoming novel How We Fall.

How long have you been a writer?

I’ve been writing fiction since I was a teen, but I wrote the first novel I queried to agents the year after college. I was quite dedicated in high school, but other things (Grades! Jobs! Dating!) took over in college. I got back to it after that and have been seriously writing again for about five years now.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My debut novel, How We Fall, was percolating for a long time before I realized it, I think. I love the show Arrested Development (an odd family with a cousins romance element), and I think that was part of my inspiration, but I also love dark edgy YA (which is nothing like

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#YALaunch- Get Ready, and Save the Date!

Dear friends,

I’m so happy to be writing this post, and I’m even happier to be inviting you to my launch party. It’s a bit unusual, and a lot wonderful, and comes from a pretty awesome chain of events.

Back in 2012, Nikki Urang and I were both querying our first manuscripts and had shared work, and decided to become critique partners. We didn’t have agents, didn’t have any publishing credentials, and were terrified that no agent was going to want us and not entirely sure we could do this publishing thing. We queried, and revised, and

Welcome to The Hit List: a game of sexual conquest. We won't judge you, but your girlfriend might.  Spencer Hill Press, Nov. 11 2014

Welcome to The Hit List: a game of sexual conquest. We won’t judge you, but your girlfriend might.

shared chapters of a new book we were each writing, and kept at it. We both shelved the manuscripts we were querying, and finished the books we were working on. We drew up lists of questions to ask agents if “the call” ever happened. We analyzed feedback in those coveted personal responses to queries. In March of 2013, a few months into me querying my new novel, Nikki signed with her agent, Nicole Resciniti. I was thrilled for her, because she’d worked hard and THE HIT LIST was awesome. We celebrated, and Nikki encouraged me to keep going. I kept querying, got a bunch of requests from agents, and started working on an R&R through the summer. Nikki’s book deal with Spencer Hill Press for THE HIT LIST was announced, and I signed with my agent, Carlie Webber.

This whole time, we went back and forth with panic attacks, worries, and all the nerves. All of them. But it was crazy fun, too, working through all this with someone who was going through it, too. I went on submission with my agent in January, and Nikki whipped me back into shape during several melt-downs. Nikki got her release date, and we celebrated again, because a fall release date is a wonderful thing. In March of 2014, my agent told me I had an offer. I panicked. Nikki helped me research, weigh the pros and cons, and supported me when I decided Merit Press was exactly what I wanted. The deal was announced, I was told it would be a fall release date, and we celebrated again. I dove right into edits since it would be a fast timeline, and then I was told my firm release date.

Both THE HIT LIST and HOW WE FALL are releasing on the same day. November 11, Nikki and I become published authors, and we are thrilled to have been able to go through all the rejections and questions and celebrations of querying and our debut year together. She’s been a huge support and encouragement for me, and I’ve tried my best for her. Our first signings were even on the same day, May 30 in New York City, at Book Expo America.

Because of all this, we’ve decided we want to have our launch parties together, and you are invited! There’s nothing quite like the writer friendships you make along the way to publication, and we want you there. Watching our families and friends all over the U.S. and even all over the world come through for us with support and

He kissed her on a dare.  She told him to do it again. Their secret could tear their family apart.

He kissed her on a dare.
She told him to do it again.
Their secret might tear the family apart.

encouragement and pre-orders and all those things every one of you has done has meant the world to us, and so we want you, there, too. We know many of you can’t travel to the Midwest for our launch party, but since this day is important to us, and you being there is important to us, we have created the most wickedly awesome launch party.

November 8-11, our critique partners and closest writing friends are getting together for a writing retreat in Omaha. Writers write, right? We’re taking a break from the hectic before-release-day demands and writing all weekend with wine, chocolate, and friends. You’ll see us tweeting about it, doing word sprints online, and having fun on the #YAlaunch hashtag, and updating the event’s Facebook page with fun news. The last night of the retreat is our launch party.

Jesse, my husband and a professional videographer, is going to film and live-stream the event. All you’ll have to do is click a link to join the party. We have games to play (Book Title Scramble, Name That Cover, a make-a-bad title/bad cover competition, and more) with you on Facebook and Twitter, Q&As, and through all of it we’ll be interacting with you live. Of course, launch parties have wine and chocolate, and we’re giving that away, too!

We’re also giving away over 100 books. Yes. 100. One hundred. You’ll want to come even if you’ve never heard of us just to win awesome books! We’re giving away prize packs of our critique partners’ books, books written by our agency/publishing house friends, books that inspired our writing, and books we would just love you to read. We’re going to be releasing a list of the books we’re giving away, so keep checking in to see!

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, we’re also going to be introducing you to the awesome authors who will be on the retreat with us, and you can ask them questions and get to hear about their work! Aside from Nikki and myself, we’re thrilled to be welcoming:

Critically acclaimed Atria author Nicole Baart (THE BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS, SLEEPING IN EDEN, & more)

Quirk Books editor and author Blair Thornburgh

YA author multipublished in poetry/literary journals, Alex Yuschik

Faith writer and blogger Kelly Youngblood

YA author Delia Moran,

Entangled author Tonya Kuper (ANOMALY),

MG and YA author Kiersi Burkhart,

YA author, Month9Books editor, and sports writer Bethany Robison,

and

New York Times bestseller, Tosca Lee (THE LEGEND OF SHEBA & more from Howard Books, & the Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker).

We’re so thrilled to have such a wonderful group of authors with us for the launch party, and we’re so grateful to all of them for their support and time and effort in coming to help us celebrate. You’ll definitely want to hear them talk about their work and get the chance to interact and have a great evening with them.

So when and how do you attend?

When: Monday, November 10, from 6-10pm central time.

Why: books, wine, chocolate, celebrating with Kate and Nikki

Where: Join the Facebook event here and watch the Twitter hashtag #YAlaunch to interact, and watch the live-stream (link to be announced).

Nikki and I would love to see you there! Our friends, families, and fellow writers have kept us going, and we would be thrilled to celebrate with you. We want this to be as much a giant book party as our launch party, so even if you don’t know us, please feel free to come and meet awesome authors and win amazing books.

Please do tell your friends, share this post, and invite others to come! The event is open to the public and we’d love your help supporting awesome authors, fantastic books, and the writing community.

See you soon!

Much love,

Kate Brauning and Nikki Urang

Tweet: Want to win 100 books? Join @KateBrauning and @NikkiUrang’s #YAlaunch party! http://ctt.ec/d3p9a+

Tweet: Want to hang out with YA authors, win books, wine, & chocolate? Join @KateBrauning & @NikkiUrang’s #YAlaunch party! http://ctt.ec/91XNf+

Tweet: Excited for YA contemps HOW WE FALL & THE HIT LIST? Join @KateBrauning & @NikkiUrang’s #YAlaunch party! http://ctt.ec/RJd9n+

The Catharsis of Dark YA

I’ve sometimes used books as an escape, as a way to explore something new, as a way to be someone else for a while. I’ve used them as entertainment, as inspiration, as a challenge to my writing.

But something has always not quite encapsulated it for me when people talk about the power of words and why we read and why we must keep reading. We say we use books to escape our lives, for entertainment, for learning empathy, for all those things I just mentioned. And that’s true. But as I’ve been sorting through why I write the stories I do, and what draws me to the books that I really, really love, something occurred to me.

Everyone is grieving something. Life leaves us with scars, and wounds that don’t heal properly, and it’s almost impossible to learn how to grieve when you’re in the middle of it. As a child, I didn’t even realize the things I was grieving. But the books I read pulled at it– the support I was missing, the friends I needed to have, the simple fact that life hurts. As an adult, I can see now that I was choosing books that helped me sort through and process all these things. And what I read now often does similar things. It pulls out a fragment of something, and helps me process it, and brings me back to a place where I can see more than the damage. Prejudice, loneliness, poverty, alienation, loss– we carry these things around with us, and they get heavy, and we often don’t know what to do with them. One piece at a time, books can help us grieve and process and show us how to put things back together.

This is why I read and write dark YA. “Dark” doesn’t mean “depressing.” It just means it’s a story that tackles serious issues, and most of them tilt the characters toward healing. Books bring us catharsis, and we all need that. In feeling for a character, and through watching their own struggle, in many ways we’re sorting through pain of our own. And it’s a hopeful, wonderful, positive thing.

Author Interview: Ashleigh Galvin

I’m very excited to welcome Ashleigh Galvin to the blog today for an interview. Ashleigh Galvin Author

Ashleigh Galvin was born in Toowoomba, Australia in 1990 and grew up in Wyreema, located in Queensland, Australia. She attempted to write her first novel in primary school and hasn’t stopped since. She enjoyed reading Fantasy series as a young girl, which fuelled her to start writing as a hobby. Her first published novel, Birth By Fire’s Embrace, was released in May 2013 from Spectacle Publishing Media Group. Many people ask Ashleigh where she gets her ideas from and her answer is simple: daydreaming. She likes to call them epic daydreams because some can last for a week or longer. Interestingly enough, she gets most of her story ideas this way. Now she has combined her great imagination and her love of fantasy to create exciting and fresh novels featuring strong characters and lots of action to keep even the most imaginative mind fully enticed.

Can you tell us a bit about your book? Why did you pick this idea to go with?

Birth By Fire’s Embrace  is a YA Fantasy centered around Sharrlette Moore. She starts the book as an everyday average girl but is soon to learn there are forces at play that she’s only ever dreamed of. When a stranger comes to town, Shar’s simple life is torn apart as she fights to stay alive. She must accept help from an enemy and learn to fight back if they are to escape.

This novel started as a daydream for me. This was years ago and the original story was very different from what it is now. Fantasy and magic is one of my favorite genres. I always wondered how people would react if suddenly they found out there was magic in this world. I just couldn’t get this concept out of my head and knew I had to write about it. Shar is one of the dreamers who earnestly accepts it but then finds out the hard way that not all magic is good.

I’m a huge fantasy fan, too, especially YA fantasy. What draws you to the genres you write? What do you love about them?

I mostly write in YA Fantasy/Urban Fantasy. I love the freedom within the genre. Magic allows me a whole other dimension to write in. I have people walking on the ground, but I can also have them fighting in the sky, riding mythical beasts in the oceans and generally being pretty awesome. But not everything is possible. I’ve spent an immense amount of time creating the Amethyst universe and its rules. I use this to decide what characters can and can’t do based on their skills and what’s realistic in this world.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about writing and publishing that you’ve learned that you can share with us?
Probably one of the most important lessons is to take your time when planning out your book. I’m a planner. I like to have a synopsis of my book plus a chapter by chapter break down before I even start writing it. I find this an invaluable tool to have when writing. The chapter by chapter breakdown lets me know where my book is going. It allows me to control suspense and tension through the chapters as well as counteracting writer’s block. I rarely get writer’s block anymore because I know exactly where my characters are going. It’s just the case of figuring out how they get there. I’ve tried to write books without planning them like this in the past and it hasn’t turned out nearly as well. My writing is slower and messier because my brain is trying to figure out too much at once. Of course once I plan my novel, that doesn’t mean I don’t change it. Birth By Fire’s Embrace changed a lot from its original planning. The plan is more a suggestion. If a inspiration burst hits me, I go with it. Even if it means throwing the plan for that chapter in the bin.
That sounds like a great balance. Tell us a bit about your publishing experience. How did you get where you are now?

The Amethyst Series is currently being published by Spectacle Publishing Media Group. It was picked up by SPMG after their CEO saw some of my work online and liked it. He approached me to submit my manuscript and well, the rest is history. I don’t have an agent although I am actively seeking one. I’d like an agent I can build a relationship up with and someone I can trust to give me good and honest advice.

Since this is a series, are you working on anything new?Birth By Fire's Embrace Cover

Standing In The Wind’s Shadow, Book two of the Amethyst Series is currently in editing with publication for later this year. My current project is the third installment of this series. I’ve many other book ideas as well that are dying to be written so after book three is finished I may try something new before continuing with book four.

You sound like you’re quite busy with writing. What do you like to do besides writing?
Writing takes up a lot of my spare time. I’m also trying to organize a wedding as well. So those two tasks are dominating my time at the moment.

Thank you so much for your time, Ashleigh, and thanks for telling us about your book! Readers, check out Ashleigh’s website, and check out Birth by Fire’s Embrace on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+

 

 

Review: No One Needs To Know by Amanda Grace

NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW

Amanda Grace

Paperback, 240 pages
Expected publication: September 8th 2014 by Flux

ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

20605405Sometimes, the cost of love is too steep

Olivia’s twin brother, Liam, has been her best friend her whole life. But when he starts dating, Olivia is left feeling alone, so she tries to drive away Liam’s girlfriends in an effort to get her best friend back.

But she meets her match in Zoey, Liam’s latest fling. A call-it-like-she-sees-it kind of girl, Zoey sees right through Olivia’s tricks. What starts as verbal sparring between the two changes into something different, however, as they share their deepest insecurities and learn they have a lot in common. Olivia falls for Zoey, believing her brother could never get serious with her. But when Liam confesses that he’s in love with Zoey, Olivia has to decide who deserves happiness more: her brother or herself?

 

As soon as I read the blurb for this, I had to read it. Loving the conflict of taboo relationships myself, I’m always interested when another writer takes it on. Amanda Grace handles the orientation issue deftly, with the issue focused on this particular relationship and not on what it means for the girls more broadly. It’s not an issue book.

Zoey in particular was a refreshing character. Her honest personality often meant issues were called out and dealt with, rather than letting misunderstandings and slights build up toward a conflict, which was fun to see. The attraction between the girls was sweet and believable and the right blend of friendship and romance.

I did wish the book was a bit darker, but that may be a personal preference. I wanted this book to be a harder struggle and a darker take on the concept. It’s a very sweet story with a neat ending, and entirely enjoyable– just not the direction I was expecting it to take.

Overall, it’s a lovely story about friendship and love, and the lines between. Sweet, thought-provoking, and utterly charming. Definitely recommended!

National Cousins’ Day ARC Giveaway

Hello, friends! It is National Cousins’ Day. I was thrilled to wake up to see that YALSA had blogged about my novel, How We Fall, today (and it was super awesome to be mentioned in a post with We Were Liars and How I Live Now).

In honor of National Cousins’ Day, I’m giving away a signed ARC of How We Fall in the U.S. or an e-arc for international winners.

Comment on this post and share it on Twitter or Facebook to enter. Giveaway closes at midnight Friday (25th).

Want to know why I wrote a first cousins romance? I blogged about it here.

coverEver since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting way too much–and with her own cousin, Marcus.

Her friendship with him has turned into something she can’t control, and he’s the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for…no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn’t right about this stranger, and Jackie’s suspicions about the new girl’s secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus–and deepens Jackie’s despair.

Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else’s lies as the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

 

Add on Goodreads

Pre-order from Barnes and Noble

Pre-order from Powell’s

Pre-order from Amazon

 

You can follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook author page for more updates on How We Fall.

 

 

 

Something I Wish I’d Known As A Teen

One of the blogs I write for is UncommonYA. They have several rotating post topics that bloggers write on, and a few weeks ago it was my turn for the “what I wish I knew as a teen” topic. There are a lot of things I wish I’d known as a teen– a few things about boys, several things about myself, the dramatic unlikelihood of publishing a novel at sixteen– but I decided to go with something a bit more sensitive but definitely more true to my life. Since it’s personal, and because I’m hoping it will be helpful to some of you, I thought I’d post it here on my blog, too.

What I Wish I’d Known As A Teen

I did not have the happiest childhood. It was hard, and I spent a lot of nights crying, having lost something or someone I loved, or watched someone hurt them or me, or having felt for the thousandth time that I was lesser than someone else. Lesser because I hadn’t had the chance to learn to play an instrument or sing, or be in debate or 4H or the Girl Scouts, or have shoes that fit or even access to the internet for a social life. I spent most of my years after I turned eleven working, and I didn’t feel safe, and I wasn’t particularly happy, and I really didn’t have friends. And it felt like it would never change. I couldn’t imagine a future, even as an adult, where this wasn’t the case. I knew, knew, that the way my life was turning out wasn’t under my control.

That left me feeling more powerless than anything else ever will. I was on a ride that was going somewhere I didn’t want to be, and there was no getting off the track. No one was going to walk up to me and give me back my life, my choices, or care enough to change it. That was the life I’d been handed, and it wasn’t going to magically become something different. An object in motion stays in motion, right? I’d tried to change it, but that only made it worse, and I couldn’t handle things getting much worse.

Here’s what I wish I’d known, as that teenage girl: that my life would be mine one day. That day by day, I was getting closer to the point where I could take it back. That the limitations and fear and disadvantages I’d been given could be balanced out, and that it could happen to ME. Not to a friend of a friend or the girl down the block, but to me. That I had choices and rights and resources and opportunities.

I thought I didn’t. I couldn’t see them, I didn’t think they’d make a difference, I figured it could happen to everyone else but not to me. Because I’d tried. I tried until I couldn’t try anymore, and it didn’t work. All those nights and months and years, I simply never imagined a future where I could change my life. I’d been shown otherwise too many times.

If someone had told sixteen-year-old me that I would be a published author, that I would be in a relationship with someone who respected me and cared about what I wanted, that I would do something I was passionate about and have a life full of so many good things and so many people who genuinely cared about me, I wouldn’t have believed it.

I’m telling you this because power, the ability to make your life yours and whether or not you have it, is such a defining thing. The loss and rediscovery of it shows up all over my books. Growing up without it had a huge impact on who I became, and gaining it back changed me in more ways than I can count. The knowledge that you are safe and your siblings are alright. The ability to buy your family Christmas gifts. A choice in what you eat or wear. The confidence and time and ability to make friends.

That can’t help but become a layer in my storytelling. So, when I write, I often end up exploring that loss. It can happen through poverty or poor health or natural disasters or war or discrimination or abuse or any number of ways, and it can change the moment or it can change your life.

What I wish I’d known as a teen, and what I wish every person at a point of change and vulnerability knew, was that your life and identity belongs to you, and you can take it back if someone takes it away. Maybe you’re trying and maybe you just don’t think it’s going to happen, but hang in there. It is possible, and it can happen to you. One day, the opportunity will come. For me, it was college. I’d gotten good grades and I could go to a good college and it changed my life. Maybe your chance will look different. Find your resources, and believe it’s your right to change your life. Work toward it each day, keep trying, and take the opportunity when it comes. It’s worth it; it’s worth it so many times over.

You have value, and the life you live matters, and you can contribute to my life and your family’s life and to the world around you. Keep trying and take the opportunities when they come. And any time you can, give the power back, in whatever amount you can, to the people who’ve had it taken away. It makes a bigger difference than you might ever know.

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