Category Archives: Guest Posts

All Author Blog Blitz

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Today is the blog blitz, organised by author Y. Correa, mod of the Indie Author Support Group on Goodreads – you can find out more about the group and Y here. For my piece on the blitz I’m featuring young adult writer and excellent all-round writing buddy – Tony Talbot! You may have seen my review of his latest book Eight Mile Island earlier this year. Tony is a regular blogger on my other blog Aside from Writing, and I’m excited to have him here as my guest today!

PS. If you’d like to see my feature, author Stephanie Hurt is hosting me at her blog here.

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Mary Tanaka is an all American Girl until the attack on Pearl Harbor makes her something terrible: Japanese. And when the US Government decides all the Japanese within a hundred miles of the west coast should be moved inland to prison camps, she has no choice but to go.

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 Gimme 10 – Mini-Interview

Please answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun! :)

Where do you find your inspiration? My wife and my dreams

What is your favourite aspect of American GirlThe research into Japanese culture was a lot of fun

Who is your favourite character from American Girl and why? Ganaha-san; so dignified and reserved, and so tragic.

What do you love about most about writing? Creating whole worlds and people from nothing. 

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About the Author: Tony Talbot was born in the 1970s and started writing in 2008 after a dream he had and couldn’t shake. American Girl was his third book, and he’s currently editing his next book and planning the book after, tentatively called, ‘Dome’.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Website: http://www.tony-talbot.co.uk

Twitter: @authortony

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonytalbotwriter

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/tony-talbot

Who am I? (January 2012)

http://cusick-jones.com/blog.php?post=14 1/29/2012 10:08:20 PM Recent post I did for Forever Lost in Books

http://foreverlostinbooks.blogspot.com/2012/01/melanie-cusick-jones-guest-post.html

“Are you animal — vegetable — or mineral?” the lion asked Alice.

Who am I? It probably sounds like a weird question, but as soon as you start doing interviews or telling people about yourself and why you wrote a book, it definitely needs some thought. And it’s not that easy to answer.

I’m sure potential readers don’t want to know that I prefer dogs to cats, drink tea not coffee, can tidy but not clean…or maybe they do? Perhaps it would give some perfect insight into my writing. Then I have to decide on whether to go with *serious face* professional author interview or something lighter…am I funny, or is that only in my own head?

You can see from the number of questions I have – I’m really not sure who I am when it comes to writing about myself. I think everyone has so many personality facets it’s hard to decide which ones are relevant when you’re asked to write about yourself. It gets even harder when you’re used to focusing on what characters do and how they behave, rather than yourself. I’m sure of my characters, less so of myself it seems.

So maybe I’ll move away from who I am – which is obviously rather confused – and focus on what I do. If you haven’t already guessed, I write  and at the start of 2012 I released my debut novel Hope’s Daughter, a lightly sci-fi YA story. I’ve been writing for a long while now (not including the awful mock Agatha Christie-style play I wrote at school, A Dirty Deed, which is certainly worth forgetting) and it definitely hasn’t been as easy a process as I thought it would. Ideas come easily and quickly…it’s everything else that takes time and hard work.

When I look back at my very early attempts at writing (which are seriously cringe-worthy to read now) you realise that it takes time to get into your stride. It can be very clunky when you begin with lots of repetition and lack of depth in your scenes (sights, sound, smells). Probably one of the hardest things is ensuring that the internal world of the book makes sense, especially once you start describing places and people: I remember in my first book the main character was four different ages within the story at different points, simply because my various references to him didn’t tally correctly. Continuity fail

I originally began writing really to see if I could do it. After finishing uni I’d read so many books – some great, some not so great – that I wondered if I had what it took to write my own. I had a rough idea of a story and a character and just started tinkering away. Like I said, the first stuff is pretty bad when I look at it now, but it was a first step and I can see how just ‘doing it’ helped me to get better.

Over the last few years, the more I’ve written, the easier it has become: my first attempts flow better, there’s less repetition and I find myself always thinking about the ‘world’ the characters are in, trying to give it texture. Completing your first book is also a big step in itself: it means you’ve created something with a start, middle and ending, that makes sense and ties together. I love writing one-shots for characters and they’re a great way of putting scenes together, but they don’t give you the same challenge as building an entire book does. I suppose its two different skills: one to look at the overall picture and the intricacies of the story to ensure that all the threads run properly through the narrative; the other being able to ‘zoom in for a close-up’ and write the detail of dialogue, thoughts and scenery.

So…here it is…my first novel. Obviously I like it  I just have to wait and see if anyone else does!

Once Upon a Time… (January 2012)

http://cusick-jones.com/blog.php?post=13 1/21/2012 11:17:42 AM

Guest post for Just Another Book Nerd blog – 18th January 2012


Once Upon a Time…

…there was a boy named Balik and a girl named Cassie and they lived on board the Space Station Hope. But where did they come from?

People will always look for autobiographical elements to someone’s writing, perhaps in the belief that you can only “write what you know”. I’m sure for every writer there are elements of them in each book they write – it might simply be a single phrase you use or a description of how you feel about something, which you then put in the mouth of one of your characters. But I think writers must appear in their own books somewhere.

I can tell you honestly that I am not Cassie, but we have similarities… I don’t like silence when you’re with people: I’m definitely a nervous waffler; but with people I’m comfortable with and care about, I’ll happily be quiet. We both have sarcastic tendencies and similar taste in guys J We like the same school subjects and she probably got her mildly argumentative streak from me. But I don’t live on a space station (surprise, surprise), or rock climb in my spare time (I am clumsy to a point that would make Bella Swan appear graceful and coordinated), and my medical expertise is limited to a basic first aid qualification.

Balik is – unfortunately – not someone I’ve met personally. But some of his strongest personality traits are familiar. The “have to know how it works” thing is another little piece of me – not necessarily in the practical sense as my lack of co-ordination inhibits me there J – but I love learning about new things. His strength and protective nature, putting someone else before himself, is something I have seen in loved ones close to me and is perhaps the most desirable quality anyone could possess. Who wouldn’t want the warrior with a heart on their side?

So where did the rest of the story come from?

Before I began Hope’s Daughter I was stuck in a rut with another novel I’d been working on (I probably hadn’t done any real writing in six months or so) and knew that I wanted to start something new, just to get myself going again. I had also been through a bit of a sci-fi phase in my reading (lots of Philip K Dick and HG Wells among others) and so I decided to do a very short piece for myself in this genre, just to see what it was like. At first it was just the Married Quarter, Balik and Cassie – but once I was writing it the story kept growing: I would drive to work listening to music and would see scenes pulling themselves together in my head, like a mini-montage and the outline of a deeper story began to come together.

I’m not a sci-fi specialist by any stretch of the imagination and so when I started building the world Cassie lives in, although I knew what it looked like, I had to refer to other people’s versions of space stations and outer space colonies to understand where technology we have now, might genuinely take us in the not too distant future. Although some of this detail was edited out of Hope’s Daughter, some things remain like the body scanners (which are real today) and waste recycling systems – naturally The Rainbow Maker’s Tale, which is Balik’s story shows much more of these things J You know how he is!

Similarly – and quite scarily – Cassie’s answer to the exam question posed at the beginning of the novel is based entirely on newspaper articles I have read. Often I would grab a copy of the free paper on my way into work and each day there are odd little science snippets alongside the more prominent articles on which celebrity is doing what or bizarre news stories. These tiny, single sentence items usually reference research being done or scientific predictions being made, which if they prove accurate could well affect the whole world…and they are hidden in a small text box alongside a page of celebrity fluff, which says a lot about what people think of as important. I cut out and kept the one that first made me think about this:

Metro – August 5, 2009

GLOBAL WARMING WILL SEE ‘BILLIONS AT WAR’

Billions of people will go to war as they are forced to leave areas made uninhabitable by global warming, climate change expert Lord Stern has warned. Much of the world’s population will be put into ‘severe conflict’ unless temperature rises are tackled, he added.

Billions of people…Billions… That’s the whole world isn’t it? As dystopian views of the future go (zombies, global plagues, giant monsters from outer space) for me, this is the one I could actually imagine happening. I could imagine us sleepwalking into a devastating situation like this, brought about mainly through a lack of interest and co-ordination. Today’s science fiction being tomorrow’s science fact…? A terrifying thought.

There was obviously more to the creation of Hope’s Daughter, most of which I can’t share because of the spoilers! But it is surprising, even to me, when I go back to my notes and research from the beginning and see how a single idea became an entire book. It is interesting to see what changed – a lot – and what remains from the original concept.

Bookaholics Book Group – Guest Post (January 2012)

http://cusick-jones.com/blog.php?post=12 1/21/2012 11:15:29 AM Recent guest post I wrote for Bookaholics Book Group – 16th January 2012


Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.  ~Sharon O’Brien

 

When you tell people you know that you’ve written a book, it’s interesting how many of them say “I always thought I’d write a book one day.”

If I were being honest, I think when I first started writing it was just to see if I could do it. I had graduated uni with an English degree – that’s a lot of reading J  – and was doing temp work to pay the bills, leaving a lot of free space in my brain. That’s when I thought: “I’ll write a book.” That was the easy part.

My original book idea – a first stab at writing – is still sitting neatly in the bottom of my half-finished drafts pile decidedly ignored. (I actually cringe to read it now). The character and plot I still like and may go back to – I just need to be a lot better than I was! The hardest thing isn’t the idea – there are fantastic concepts for novels I believe most people would come up with – it is the actual creation of a person…a world…a story that is so much harder than I ever thought it would be.

Practice. It might not make you perfect, but it definitely helps you get better. Although Hope’s Daughter is my first published novel, I’ve completed four others prior to that, a couple of which I would consider releasing after a lot of revision. Hope’s Daughter is the first piece that I felt comfortable putting out for review, ridicule and whatever else may come – lol. But writing the other full novels really helped me.

Questions. When you’re writing – especially editing – you answer a lot of questions: would the character do that? How would they react to this? Should we see more of this person, less of another? If you have some twists or mystery the most difficult thing is ‘drip feeding’ the clues in exactly the right way to let a reader understand where things might go, without giving the game away. I definitely didn’t have that skill down when I first tried writing – I was trying to get every piece of the story down in chapter one, just because I knew where things would end up going. J Hopefully I’m better at that now.

Support. Taking a creative writing course definitely helped me. You develop techniques for making you look more creatively at the world than I think I did originally. Feedback is undoubtedly the best way to improve, but you need to be able to take it for what it is. No one should have something they’ve lovingly crafted ripped apart, but if you can find helpful, constructive reviewers, friends and beta readers (the last is absolutely vital I have discovered) then they will help you write what you want to.

Reading. I imagine most writers are bookaholics at heart. Reading widely and what you like cannot be beaten. Although Hope’s Daughter is my story, it has probably been influenced by every book I’ve ever read and draws in elements from those that I love and stayed with me after I closed the cover (or switched off the kindle!) and steers clear of those I don’t!

Just do it. If you love to read and want to write, then do it! J There may be natural writing geniuses out there, although I doubt it. Writing is a skill – some parts you can make better with practice, other parts will be absolutely individual to you because of what you love, what you read and how you look at the world. If it’s something you want to do, then you should. I love my characters – I like seeing how they grow and change from who I thought they were when I first met them. I love the giddy little rush I feel when I solve a problem in the narrative to get me from one scene to another – or more so when I think of a sneaky twist to hopefully make everything more interesting. For me writing and reading go hand-in-hand now, sometimes I have to drag myself away from one to do the other, but I love both.