Free Friday!

It’s that time of year again, time to start back at my day job.

 

For me, it’s a love/hate kind of thing.

I love the kids I work with, but I hate giving up my writing, thinking, walking, just existing time.

It’s kind of like being immersed in a daydream, and having someone snap you back to reality.

The reality is that I’ve got to work. But the dream is that one day I will be able to just write.

Just write.

That sounds good, doesn’t it? But the thing is, we don’t ever get to just write, do we?

There’s the researching and the brainstorming. There’s the outlining and creating. There’s seeing the problems you have in a manuscript, and figuring out how to make it work anyway. And that’s just the writing part.

What about the rest? There’s marketing. There’s making connections with readers. There are appearances to plan and workshops to write.

But the key for me is time management. Because how do I make it all work? It’s a challenge, for sure. But then as an author it’s all part of what we get to do. It’s a privilege to write for kids. It’s a pleasure to meet with them. It’s the reason we do this writing thing to begin with. To have an opportunity to reach as many people as we possibly can and to have an impact on their lives.

So while I’m setting my clock for 5:30 AM and trying to work in bits and pieces of an artist’s life around my day job demands, I still dream of a day when I’ll get to create full time. Or at least Netflix binge, walk, market, plan and then write full time. Life. Is. Full. Especially when you’re an author, and I don’t want to miss a thing.

Themed Thursday: Our recommended beach reads

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I just finished The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies. This isn’t a book I’d normally pick up to read (the synopsis made it seem like a historical romance), but a dear friend of mine recommended it, so I gave it a try. I didn’t want to put it down!

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: My beach read is: A Gentleman in Moscow by A. Towles. This book unfolds shortly after the Russian Revolution in a period of violent upheaval. A striking count named Alexander Rostov has been summoned and accused of writing a counter-revolutionary poem. His trial offers an indication of the count’s casual resistance to the spirit of the times. Asked to state his occupation, he answers, “It is not the business of a gentleman to have occupations.” Friends in high places keep him from being shot on the spot. He’s declared a “Former Person” and sentenced to life imprisonment in Moscow’s Hotel Metropol. The novel has more time for tea than high adventure, but it makes you appreciate what you’ve got, and those with which you can share it.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: To me, any book that I’m reading is a good beach read. I love reading by the pool or beach. Fresh air and seeing the water in the background puts you in another place, mentally. But, since we’re picking one, and I have a feeling that this will be on more than one person’s list, I’ll say Jaws. Jaws is a fun read, and what better place to read it than the beach? You’ll be peeking into the ocean every other paragraph and then be too scared to even go in! What’s more fun than that?

Faran Fagen

Faran: When I worked full-time at night in the Palm Beach Post sports department, I used to bike to Palm Beach almost every day (I didn’t report to work til 4 p.m.) Often, if I wasn’t making another lame attempt at surfing, I would take the latest Sports Illustrated magazine and read while I listened to the waves. A writer’s magazine, SI was full of colorful features, detailed profiles, and witty commentary. Some beautiful memories of reading those articles in the sand.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: A beach read for me needs to be a Janet Evanovich novel. Her Stephanie Plum series–funny mishaps of an ill-suited bounty hunter with a scintillating love triangle. Team Ranger.

Wrap-It-Up Wednesday: True Confession

Well, it’s my turn for Wrap-It-Up Wednesday, but I have a confession to make. I didn’t go to critique group this week, and not only that, I didn’t have have a real excuse other than, “I’m not in a good head space right now,” which was totally true. But it’s not like me to flake out on my obligations. (And since when is going to the Tuesdays an obligation? It’s not!)

So now I’m sitting here trying to figure out what made me not want to go to critique group this week. It’s not my writing. My book is progressing well. I think it’s because—even though I’m normally a very positive person—I’ve been feeling a little depressed, not in the clinical sense, but in the sense that, I turn 48 in a few days and today I spotted two gray hairs and I’ve been dealing with a lot of sickness and death lately.

So maybe it’s okay that I allow myself to miss a week of critique group. Or maybe I should have sucked it up and gone. Regardless, I think it’s important to realize that we all have days when we don’t feel like getting out of bed, and it’s okay. The trick (for me) is not to wallow in it for too long. I know this feeling will pass and I know in a few days I’ll be back to my positive self, plugging away on my book and feeling excited about meeting with the Tuesdays.

Writers, like the rest, need be dexterous and deft

By Faran Fagen

Tuesday Tips

“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
– From “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books of all time.
This time of year, as I set up my classroom, get my kids’ school supplies, and re-assess my writing goals, always tests my time management skills.
Every year, it all works out.
If you feel the same, you’ll enjoy these quotes about juggling and balance from writers, celebrities and other famous folks. See if you can guess who said what. A few of the authors are Benjamin Franklin, Ellen Degeneres and comedian Chris Rock. Enjoy!

“Life is a juggling act with your own emotions. The trick is to always keep something in your hand and something in the air.”

“Juggling and balancing effectively required that we make clear, legacy-driven choices about what we’re trying to keep in the air and how we sequence our movements down the beam. Because the ultimate grade in life is not based on how far and fast we’ve walked the beam or how many things we’ve juggled—it’s based on how much we’ve enjoyed the exercise.”

“Most of us have trouble juggling.
The woman who says she doesn’t is someone whom I admire but have never met.”

“Do three things well, not ten things badly.”

“I’m happy when I’m juggling, but I feel like I’ve gonefrom, like, 3 balls to 10 bowling balls. But, that’s a good problem. I don’t really have a complaint about that.”

“Juggling is sometimes called the art of controlling patterns, controlling patterns in time and space.”

“The fact of the matter is, when I’m on tour,
I’m juggling so hard to keep all the balls in the air that I don’t often get to really enjoy what I’m out there doing.”

“The world cannot be governed without juggling.”

“Some scenes you juggle two balls, some scenes you juggle three balls,
some scenes you can juggle five balls.
The key is always to speak in your own voice.”

“Speak the truth.
That’s Acting 101.
Then you start putting layers on top of that.”

“My grandmother was a Jewish juggler:
she used to worry about six things at once.”

“A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges.”

“Motherhood has relaxed me in many ways.
You learn to deal with crisis.
I’ve become a juggler, I suppose.”

“It’s all a big circus, and nobody who knows me believes I can manage, but sometimes I do.”

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.”

“The world cannot be governed without juggling”

“When I hear people talk about juggling, or the sacrifices they make for their children, I look at them like they’re crazy, because ‘sacrifice’ infers that there was something better to do than being with your children.”

“Juggling is an illusion. … In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession. … It is actually task switching.”

“You need not feel guilty about not being able to keep your life perfectly balanced.”

“Juggling everything is too difficult. All you really need to do is catch it before it hits the floor.”

“Writing is one of the few careers for which you essentially train yourself, the other two major ones being juggling and acting.”

“I like being busy and juggling a lot of things at the same time. I get bored easily, so I need to do a lot.”

“I need to recharge creatively, and get off the clock of having to be somewhere just because, and having to keep juggling all these things.”

I’ll leave you with this quote about learning from mistakes. One of my favorites:
“Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness”-Sasha Guitry

Interview with Melissa Roske, Debut Author of Kat Greene Comes Clean!

Hello Tuesdays!

Today, I’m thrilled to be joined by friend and fellow 2017 Debut Author, Melissa Roske, whose book, Kat Greene Comes Clean, is scheduled to come out TOMORROW from Charlesbridge!

JR: Hi, Melissa and thanks for joining us today.

MR: Hi to you, Jonathan!

 

JR: Before we begin, can you tell us a little bit about Kat Greene Comes Clean and the impetus behind writing it?

MR: Okay, here’s the plot: Kat Greene is an 11-year-old fifth grader at the super-progressive Village Humanity School, in New York’s Greenwich Village. Kat’s lucky to have great friends, a loving blended family—including a caring stepmom and an adorable three-year-old half-brother, Henry—and the excitement of New York City at her doorstep. She’s also got a big problem: Her mom’s got an out-of-control cleaning compulsion, fuelled by her worsening OCD. She’s also terrified of germs. To cope, Kat reaches out to her best friend, as well as to the hippie-dippy school psychologist, Olympia Rabinowitz—but things start to spiral out of control when Kat’s mom decides to be a contestant on Clean Sweep, a TV game show about—you guessed it—cleaning.

The impetus behind the book is based on my own experience with OCD—or, to be more accurate, my dad’s OCD. His compulsions are the polar opposite of Kat’s mom’s, though, because my dad is extremely messy and keeps everything. (I recently found a datebook in his apartment from 1973!) He’s also a checker, which means he must check the front-door locks, and the gas jets on the stove, multiple times a day. I too have obsessive-compulsions tendencies, including the need to have my window shades fixed at a certain level, but I wouldn’t say they impede my life. They’re just extremely distracting—to my family, and to myself.

 

JR: I read that you used to be a journalist in Europe. That sounds fascinating. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

MR: Before my daughter was born, I lived with my husband in Brussels, London, and Munich respectively. My first gig, in Brussels, was at a newsweekly called The Bulletin, where I interviewed Belgian politicians, wrote restaurant reviews, and profiled minor celebrities (with the focus on minor). I did pretty much the same thing in London, but the celebrities were a tiny bit more high profile and I was able to get around town without getting lost! I also had an advice column in Just Seventeen magazine, Britain’s then-leading magazine for teenage girls, where I answered hundreds of letters from readers each month.

 

 

JR: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing journey getting to this point? 

MR: How long have you got, Jonathan? Okay, here’s the short version: I started querying Kat—which was then called What’s the Problem, Ellie Gold?—in 2012. I got an agent after an R and R, and went on submission later that year. When the manuscript failed to garner interest from editors, my agent and I parted ways. I then reworked the book from top to bottom (and bottom to top, and top to bottom…) and started the querying process all over again. I found a great agent, who then sold the book to Julie Bliven at Charlesbridge. The deal was announced on September 29, 2015. I’ve since switched agents—I’m now represented by the awesome Patricia Nelson of MLLA—and working on my next book.

 

JR: What’s your writing process like?

MR: I try to write every day, although some days are more successful than others. On successful days (which outnumber the slacker days, thankfully), I like to do a little prewriting in my journal before I sit down to work. I test out ideas, explore plot points, and to ask myself plenty of “What if” questions. For instance, there’s a scene in my book where Kat goes trick-or-treating with her BFF, Halle, but Halle isn’t speaking to Kat.  I wasn’t sure how Kat should react at this point, so I asked myself: “What if Kat acted as if everything was fine?” From there, the scene developed naturally. Another thing I do is to write a synopsis before I tackle a project. I like to have a roadmap, even if I don’t follow it.

JR: What was your favorite childhood book and who’s your favorite author?

MR: This one is too easy! Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh. Published in 1964, it tells the tale of Harriet M. Welsch, an eleven-year-old New Yorker who spies on her neighbors and writes down her observations in a notebook. I actually wrote a whole article on why I love this book so much, but I won’t bore you with the details. Let’s just say I’ve read Harriet the Spy more times than I can count—at least once a year, every year, since the age of 11. Don’t ask me to do the math. I will refuse.

 

JR: What’s your favorite movie?

MR: As embarrassing as this sounds—and it is, admittedly—it’s Legally Blonde. How can you not love it? It’s about a whip-smart fashion-merchandising major who aces “The History of Polka Dots” and gets into Harvard Law School.

 

JR: Something people would be surprised to learn about you?

MR: I turned down the chance to be on the David Letterman show. I was a life coach at the time, and I’m pretty sure the producers wanted to poke fun at the coaching profession. Life coaches have a hard enough time being taken seriously, and I didn’t think David Letterman needed any encouragement. So I said no.

JR: I think your inclination was probably right. 

 

JR: Do you do a lot of research when you write?

MR: I actually had to do quite a lot for Kat Greene, because I wanted to make sure that the portrayal Kat’s mom’s OCD was fair and accurate. To that end, I read many books on the subject—including David Adam’s excellent memoir, The Man Who Couldn’t Stop—and interviewed several psychologists and psychiatrists. I also corresponded with people who suffer from OCD, and talked to members of their families as well.

My second book focuses on a girl whose stepdad is an ex-football player, so I’ve been learning more about football than I thought humanly possible. And there’s been a steep learning curve. I know nothing—and I mean nothing—about the game!

 

JR: Here at the Tuesdays, a big part of our success and the purpose of this site, has been being involved in a critique group. Are you involved in one and if so, how has it helped you?

MR: I used to be a member of a wonderful critique group, but it disbanded when a key member moved away. Now I exchange manuscripts with several writer friends, including the accomplished MG author, Nancy Butts. At some point I’d like to join a new group, but it would have to be the right fit. The sharing of one’s work is incredibly personal.

 

R: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and is there any advice you can give to writers looking to break in?

MR: The best piece of writing advice came from my mentor, the incredible life- and writing coach Sara Lewis Murre. She always says, “What you write is right.” That’s not to say what you write needs to be good, but it’s important that you let yourself write whatever you need to, at any given time. Self-criticism runs rife for writers, and it’s vital to keep it at bay.

 

JR: What are you working on next?

MR: I’m not sure if my agent wants me to blab, but I can say that it’s another middle-grade novel, this time about a sixth-grade girl whose family lands on a reality-TV show. Oh, and it’s set in New York. (Surprise, surprise!)

JR: That sounds very cool. Can’t wait to read it!

 

JR: Is there anything that else you want to share with our readers or perhaps tell them how they can follow you on social media?

MR: Well, I can give you my bio, if you want. If not, well… here it is anyway. Melissa Roske was a journalist in Europe, before landing a job as a teen-advice columnist for Britain’s Just Seventeen. Upon returning to her native New York, Melissa contributed to several books and magazines, selected jokes for Reader’s Digest, and got certified as a life coach. She lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with her husband, daughter, and the occasional dust bunny.

 

Links:

WebsiteFacebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram

 

Before we go, I always like to ask, who’s your favorite member of The Tuesdays, and I’m begging you, please don’t say Faran!

MR: Faran? Who’s Faran?

JR: And that’s why I like you so much! 

Thanks, again for joining us, Melissa, and here’s hoping for huge success for Kat Greene Comes Clean!

Fun Friday: The Joy of Writing

It’s been a long time since I felt this good about my writing. I’ve been working on my next book for going on three years, and only recently, in this, the third major rewrite, do I finally feel like the story is coming together. Plot pieces are falling into place. Character motivations are clear. Subtleties are coming out, and emotion is running high. As I type each scene, my fingers are deft on the keyboard. The words flow (mostly), and I find myself immersed in the world I’ve created.

I wish writing could always feel this good.

But it doesn’t—at least for me it doesn’t—not until I put in the hard work of writing and plotting and rewriting and re-plotting until finally, the story I want to tell emerges. I thought when I started this book that I knew what that story was, but I was wrong, and even though the story didn’t feel right when I was writing it, I still had to go through that process. I had to write crap in order to find out what the story was.

Unfortunately, this seems to be my M.O. With my first book, A Work of Art, I went through this same process. Outlining extensively, thinking I knew what the story was, only to totally re-outline and rewrite the entire book—not once, but twice. The third total rewrite ended up being the story I wanted to tell.

I’m following the same pattern with my work in progress.

I wish I were one of those writers who’s full of ideas. Maybe I am, but the ideas are lying dormant and I have to dig them out. Actually, as I write this, I realize that must be the case. Am I okay with that? I guess I have to be. Because even though I spent years painfully extracting words from my brain (knowing most of the time that they sucked), this feeling I have now—this feeling of the words flowing from my head to the page—that makes it all worth it.

E-reader or Book? What’s Your Preference?

Faran Fagen

Faran: I just love to sit in a comfortable chair and flip through the pages of a book. I love the smell of a book, the feel of the pages on my fingers, and the authentic look of the cover. Nothing’s better than rain patting the roof, a comfy chair, a cup of coffee in one hand, and a good book in the other. Not having to worry about charging the thing or other technical glitches is also a plus.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: My current favorite method is audiobooks. I download them from Broward County Library on Overdrive and listen in the car. I was in Dania for a workshop yesterday. It took me an hour to get home, but I didn’t mind. I had a great book! I also will read from an e reader on occasion, but normally, if I’m reading, it’s an actual book.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I started reading ebooks when I ran out of space on my bookshelves. Now I’m hooked. I usually read while I’m eating or drinking coffee, and with an ebook, you can just prop up the device (in my case, i use the Kindle app on my iPad) to easily turn the pages. I also read in bed at night–which means I can turn off all the lights and still see my book. That’s not to say I don’t love the feel and smell and look of paper books. I do! And I’ll still buy my favorite books in hard copy so I can display them on my shelf.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: I am definitely a book person. I don’t even own an e-reader. I love the texture of the cover in my hands, the smell of the pages, and the available reference should I want to revisit the book for a discussion. I keep most of my books in case I want to reread them, reference a writing technique, or share them with others. Some of my books have been passed down from my parents and grandparents who loved to read. I hope to pass along those favorites to my children and grandchildren.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: You’d think there’d finally be an easy question for our Themed Thursdays, but as always, it’s never that simple. There are times when I prefer reading via electronic device, but to me, there’s nothing better than holding a new book and flipping through the pages. It’s a thrill to open a book and get that feeling that an electronic device just can’t match.

Wrap it Up Wednesday for the Tuesday Writers

The Tuesdays met at Jonathan’s house shortly after the rain stopped in West Broward. Parker, Jonathan’s dog, trekked down the stairs to greet us all and spent an extra amount of time checking out Faran who is back after a hiatus at summer camp.

Faran read the climax of a Y/A baseball novel he’s been working on. The pacing and tension were amazing. We were on the edges of our chairs feeling a whole range of emotion for the main character, his best friend, his girlfriend and the entire baseball team.

Cathy has a new character that just showed up in her novel. He’s wreaking havoc all over the place. The Tuesdays love the chaos he’s creating.

Melody’s chapter had her main character grappling with issues about a boy she likes. It related concepts regarding money and morals. Melody reflected the morality beautifully with a slimy smile on a character’s face.

I read a scene that I added to the climax of my work in progress. The Tuesdays liked the addition, but suggested relocating it.  We discussed moving it forward and adding to an existing scene to maximize the ramping up of tension for the grand finale.

 

Jonathan is cranking out another hilarious middle grade novel. Even though he has a short deadline with his publisher, he manages to continue to ace the funny stuff. The Tuesdays were excited to find a small fix for Jonathan’s WIP. We know it was only because he’d had a busy week hosting his launch party.

Stacie didn’t join us this week. She’s spending quality time with her daughter before college starts. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone next Tuesday.

Strongest writer warriors: Patience, time

By Faran Fagen
Most Tuesday Tips, we bombard you with craft and publishing advice.
Thought I’d change it up this week and offer some famous words on patience.
In every facet of writing and publishing, our tribe has to rely on patience. Patience to find just the right word, or pacing in our work in progress. Patience to connect with the right agent or publisher.
In this spirit, I combed the internet for some well-known quotes on patience. Hope you find these helpful. You may even recognize some of them (there’s some Emerson, Ben Franklin, Tolstoy, even one from Winnie the Pooh). Have fun trying to think of the author of any of these words:

“A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves a thousand moments of regret.”
“The trees that grow slower bear the greatest fruit.”
“Don’t lose hope, just lose your ego with work and patience.”
“Good things come to those who wait, Better things come to those who try.”
“The hardest tests in life is the patience to wait for the right moment.”
“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”
“Patience and silence are two powerful energies. Patience makes you mentally strong, silence makes you emotionally strong.”
“Be patient. Good things come to those who wait.”
“It is very strange that the years teach us patience – that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.”
“Inner peace can be seen as the ultimate benefit of practicing patience.”
“Patience and self-restraint strengthen you. Impatience and self-indulgence weaken you.
Patience is learned through waiting.”
“Be positive, patient and persistent.”
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
Patience, grasshopper,” said Maia. “Good things come to those who wait.”
“I always thought that was ‘Good things come to those who do the wave,'” said Simon. “No wonder I’ve been so confused all my life.”
“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.”
“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.”
“There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.”
“He that can have patience can have what he will.”
“Patience is a conquering virtue.”
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
“Patience Is Not the Ability to Wait: Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.”
“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
“Why is patience so important? Because it makes us pay attention.”
“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
“There’s no advantage to hurrying through life.”
“Persistence. Perfection. Patience. Power. Prioritize your passion. It keeps you sane.”

Pagan Jones

Today we welcome author Nina Berry and the BONUS of our first RAFFLE! www.tuesdaywriters.com

CC: Since you work by day in TV, what’s your writing schedule like?

NB: I write a lot on the weekends, on my lunch hour, and at home at night. I don’t go into a calendar and block off time – although I probably should, but in my mind, I set aside specific hours or time to write. But I goof off online during that writing time more than I should. To help with distraction, writing sprints are useful. I set a timer or look at the clock and say to myself “thirty minutes of writing and nothing but writing starting now.” And then I work like crazy for that time, knowing I’ll get a break at the end of it. Life is a constant battle against my well-developed ability to procrastinate.

CC: We’re a critique group, so we’d love to know about your experience with them. What can you tell us?

NB: Very smart of you to find a group of people you trust to show your work to! I have a critique partner who is essential to my writing. Her name is Elisa Nader and you should check out her fabulous YA thriller ESCAPE FROM EDEN. I also often brainstorm or exchange reads with powerhouse YA and TV writer Jen Klein, who has several books out now. The most recent is a delightful romance called SUMMER UNSCRIPTED. They are both strong in areas where I am weak, and they call me on my crap. They are also supportive and will tell me what’s working – and that is as essential as telling me what doesn’t work. In my experience, YA writers in general are good at supporting each other. The community is close knit and full of smart, kind people.

I don’t know about you, but I go through a recognizable process when I get a really critical note. My first reaction is huge resistance and resentment. That’s my ego, bristling. Then as the note sinks in, I start to mull it over and see some value in it. That’s my desire to be a better writer wrestling with my ego. Finally, I get excited about how the note’s going to make my writing better and I incorporate it in my own way. At that point, I’m filled with gratitude toward the note-giver, completely opposite from where I started. The more this happens, the shorter the time of resistance and resentment lasts. But it’s still there! The ego is mighty, and you have to get past it to get better. Critique partners and groups are a great way to do that.

CC: Pagan Jones is historical fiction and Otherkin begins a paranormal trilogy. How does it work for you switching genres like that?

NB: It is super fun! The key is, if you’re going to write in a genre, read a lot in that genre. Get to know it. I’ve always been a big reader. I love everything from Jane Austen to George R. R. Martin, so all that reading makes it possible for me to write different genres.

But just as you’d expect, historical fiction requires more research than paranormal. Fortunately, I love research! Don’t get me wrong, I did a lot of research for Otherkin – everything from the biology of tigers to how particle accelerators work. But paranormal fiction requires you to change the real world, so you have more leeway with facts. You still need that world to be consistent, of course. But because the Pagan Jones books are historical, I spent more time on research. I read a lot of books on Berlin and the Cold War for The Notorious Pagan Jones, and books on Nazi hunting and Buenos Aires for City of Spies. I scoured old maps and photos of the locations, researched the real people involved, and on and on. Fortunately, I love history and I find that sort of thing fun. With historical fiction, it’s important to me to be respectful of real people’s real experiences. For example, Pagan helps hunt down a Nazi war criminal in her second book, so I was very conscious the whole time I wrote that book how important it was to try to get it right, while at the same time being true to Pagan’s character and entertaining the reader. The historical Hollywood parts of those books came more easily because I work in Hollywood by day and have a Masters degree in film and TV. I’ve loved movies and movie history since I was a kid. If you have a passion, it’s great to be able to incorporate it into your books that way.

CC: Of all your books, which one is your favorite?

NB: No fair! I love them all! Hmm. Okay. Trying not to give you too glib an answer. Each book is a different kind of favorite. Otherkin was the first time I ever talked to an editor who really understood what I was going for. That’s a magical feeling. Othermoon was the first time I killed off a character, and yes, I cried. Othersphere was the first time I had to end a series and say goodbye to characters, so it was fun to wrap it up and difficult to walk away.

Of the many characters I’ve created (and I love them all, even the villains) Pagan Jones is my favorite. I can see her starring in her own Netflix series, you know? She’s larger than life, and so complex I could easily write many more stories for her. But the publisher has no plans to do that as of now, so I’ve had to move on, and that’s been really hard. But you never know! I’d bring Pagan back in a heartbeat, given the chance.

The more I write, the better my writing gets, so my next one should be the best yet.

CC: What are you working on…that you can tell us about?

NB: I cannot say much, alas. But it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever done, and it scares me. In the best way. It’s pushing me to grow. I keep telling myself that’s a good thing as I fret and sweat over the words.

CC: What is your favorite part about being an author?

So much of it is awesome! I love the idea phase, when I’m putting the characters and story together in my head. It’s a great excuse to daydream. I love it when I write a passage that really works. But my absolute favorite is when a reader tells me that my story meant something to them. That’s the best thing ever.

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