You guys...I attended my first writer's conference this past weekend. FINALLY! NESCBWI to be exact.
(And this fella right here was my co-pilot. His name is Rufus. Yes, I named him. It's only right, being a writer and all.)
The organizers were amazing. The workshops were incredibly insightful. And the entire conference was run so smoothly that if any hitches arose no one noticed. I even volunteered, which was really helpful in meeting other writers, and I went out to dinner on Friday night with a few other @sweet16s/@swanky17s - MonicaTesler, Ruth Lehrer, Jen Petro-Roy, Ronni Arno, Lee Gjertsen Malone, & Melissa Schorr. You really must check out these fabulous MG & YA authors. Go follow them now.
So why was my stomach in knots when I returned home?
The biggest reason I've come up with is because I went alone. And with it being my first time that made finding any sense of calm a bit more challenging. I'm kind of a pack animal, so without a pack I felt exposed. Natural, I supposed though. Then there was all the crazy talent in attendance. Seriously folks, we have some uber creativity up here in the New England states. Talk about intimidating - which made me want to hide. But then there was the only element to surpass the elevated brightness and wit of these people - their kindness, which made me all warm and fuzzy.
You're asking yourself: so what's her insecurity? I guess it's kind of a seesawing of confidence and inferiority, how to balance that, and how to use it to fuel my writing.
Ever struggle with this? How have you handled it?
The purpose of the IWSG is to share and encourage, posting on the first Wednesday of each month. You'll find writer doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Support and a common understanding spread throughout the group as many fellow writers can relate. Feel free to JOIN in anytime.
YA in the Alleywayis my revised meme to give young adult literature the spotlight it deserves. It also gives YA authors the opportunity to share their signature with the world!
Feel free to join me any Wednesday.
I'd like to introduce you to another #WO2016 (Waiting On 2016) fellow author! She's a passionate writer of other-wordly adventures, a little excitable, and a little quirky. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, she jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused her powers on her YA debut There Once Were Stars, and her YA urban fantasy Summoner Rising.
She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Land of Living Skies.
Hi Melanie! Love chatting with you in our #WO2016 Facebook group, but I'm even more thrilled to have you visit me at my cyber home. Let's start with you as a child. Were you a reader?
I was a ferocious reader, thanks to my mother, but was also told totally made up tales, thanks to my father. My favorite childhood story is one called Little Blue Ben. Haha - I think I still have it around here somewhere.
Aw, very cool. Here's a fun question: You're in a grocery store checkout line. What catches your eye?
a) Gum! One can never have too much gum (plus it freshens your breath)!
b) Chapstick! I rarely wear lipstick, preferring the lovely moisturizing abilities of chapstick (Cherry Carmex is my fav).
c) Coffee Crisp - only the best chocolate bar ever!!
Any thoughts about author platforms or the ever-changing publishing world you'd like to share?
Keep learning and find things that play on your strengths. I LOVE visuals, so I've really been spending a lot of time with Instagram. Is that right or wrong, I don't know, but if you feel like your platform is taking up all your time you probably need to scale back and pick the parts you love, because you'll shine!
Such heartfelt advice! <3 (Gosh, you have me all mushy... #blushes) One valuable piece of writerly advice you want to offer to aspiring writers.
Patience. Patience. Patience. Everything takes time, from signing, to each round of edits, to cover reveals. Sometimes schedules change, people change, and even your release date can change. Just be patient. It's not you, it's just how the industry works.
Now for your beautiful book baby! What inspired you to write TOWS?
When I got the idea for There Once Were Stars, I had just finished an episode of The Walking Dead. The season had ended and I was thinking about how much I loved that the series was character based, rather than fully focused on the zombies or virus. I started thinking of the last series I read, Divergent (I didn’t start reading until after Allegiant released), and how much I enjoyed its unique take on dystopian. My two favorite things … zombies and dystopian … and then my mind exploded with this image of Nat—a girl in a dystopian world—who watches the stars glitter along the glass of her dome covered city … and the rest is history.
I love the image that "...along the glass of her dome covered city..." creates. You mention Nat. What two super heroes adequately describe her? And what two villains adequately describe your main antagonist?
Two - wow I don't know why that sounds so hard! How about part video game characters and part super heroes.
My main character, Nat, is best described as a cross between Lara Croft from Tomb Raider and Alice from Resident Evil. It's not because she's an orphan or a clone (she's one but not the other), but it's because she doesn't want to get involved in trouble, but ends up choosing what's right. She didn't ask or go looking for trouble...it came for her.
But my villian, (whose name I will leave out for spoiler reasons), is a definite Kingpin x 2 (Spiderman version, not Daredevil - before he became the family man).
Okay, so if that description doesn't get folks to rush out to buy the book and read I don't know what will. Wow! Speaking of which, let's show off your book.
THERE ONCE WERE STARS
by Melanie McFarlane
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Description: Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order
has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident
of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has
poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the
Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat
wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order
been hiding from everyone?