I'm thrilled to have Amy Braun as my guest, to grill her with my 20 Questions and also to participate in the ongoing Blog Tour for her new release AMBER SKY. I'm no stranger to AMBER SKY. She had me at the cover! I've been devouring it by 8-10 line excerpts for months as part of the Weekend Writing Warriors Sunday snippets blog, and am so excited to finally get my hands on all of it! While you get to know Amy, I'll be busy reading . . .
Getting to Know You:
1. Party dress or blue jeans?
Blue jeans. As all my friends and family will confirm, getting me into a dress is a legitimate struggle.
2. Night owl or early bird?
Early bird. I’m very routine and schedule oriented, so once I settle into everything I need to do in the morning, I usually get into a writing mood that will carry me for another ten hours, if I’m having a good writing day.
3. Five words your friends use to describe you . . .
Loyal, funny, nerdy, loud, honest.
4. Five words you use to describe yourself . . .
Productive, diligent, creative, responsible, nerdy.
5. Things that make you want to go “EEEEEEK!”
Spiders, bugs, sharks, and heights. Terrified of all of those!
6. If I had a free afternoon, I’d ______
Read all day.
7. Favorite books from childhood . . .
I loved the R. L. Stein Choose Your Own Adventure Books. Even though I always met a horrible end, they were so much fun to read and interact with.
The Written Word:
8. What type of fiction heroine would you be? Jane Eyre or Lara Croft?
Hmm, this is hard. There are so many heroines I admire and that I would want to be, but I’m not sure I would react the same way they do. Let’s go with… Megan from Julie Kagawa’s IRON FAE books. She’s a great character with a lot of heart but who’s also shoved into a world she’s just starting to get familiar with, which is how I feel about writing and publishing some days. I’m still learning so much, and looking forward to learning more!
9. Favorite genre to read?
My go to genre is urban fantasy, which is my favourite to write, but lately I’ve been reading a lot of Young Adult fantasy, which is just as spectacular as regular fantasy. I also love high fantasy, dystopia, and horror, which I always find myself lurking towards in a book shop.
10. What would you love to write that you haven’t?
Right now, I haven’t written sci-fi or cyberpunk, but those are two genres I actually have plans to write in a few years.
11. Fiction hero you would run off with . . .
Hmm… It would be three way tie between Owen Grayson from Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series, Rowan from the THRONE OF GLASS series, or Rhys from the A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES books. They all powerful men and fierce warriors who would do anything for the women they love, and I couldn’t think of better companions.
12. What are you reading right now?
I’m reading EMPIRE OF STORMS by Sarah J. Maas, my new favourite author. Her writing is stellar, and I can’t remember the last time an author has captured my attention so completely.
13. Paperback or e-book?
Both. The last couple years I’ve been reading ebooks to save space and money, but now that I’m a published author with printed books, I want the feel of them in my hands. I love the feel and smell of paper, and a full bookshelf is a beautiful thing. That said, I do still have an ereader that I use. A lot of great books are ebook exclusive, and I won’t deny myself a great story just because I prefer paper to digital.
A Writer’s Life:
14. OCD plotter or free range pantser?
When it comes to planning, I’m an OCD plotter who needs every detail, but when I’m writing, I’m a panster. I find a lot of ideas come out when I just type and see what flows. I’ve built a lot of storylines just writing the first random thing that comes into my head. Though this usually means a truckload of editing later.
15. Which is easier, the synopsis or the book?
For me, it’s the book. The synopsis has to be condensed and I can never tell if I’m leaving out something interesting or crucial. It’s something I’m hoping to get better at as I learn.
16. Do you have a set writing schedule?
Yes. One of the things I learned early on is that to avoid panic, it’s important to plan things months in advance. That gives you time to think of other ways to promote yourself as an author and writer, and to be considerate of bloggers and reviewers you might reach out to.
17. First publishing rejection (and getting back on that horse) . . .
Before I started my career, I read the variations between traditional and self-publishing. What I read was that with traditional, you get a lot of rejections. It’s the way of the industry. So when I started getting them, I wasn’t totally shocked. It sucked, getting one email after the next saying “We don’t think this is right for our agency,” or “It just didn’t hold my interest,” and more, but no rejection I’ve gotten has been rude or cruel. Accepting that my book will be rejected eases the sting, because let’s face it–– agents and publishers rejected J.K. Rowling, who is now one of the most famous authors in the world. She didn’t give up, so what excuse do I have?
18. Biggest hurdle to getting words on the page and how you overcome it . . .
On busy days, I become overwhelmed with so many other projects and tasks that by the time I get to writing new words, I don’t feel as motivated as I used to, or the words aren’t as strong given how distracted I became earlier. That won’t stop me from writing, but I often won’t like what I put on the page. It will feel like a slog and I won’t be happy with it. But I know that the most important thing to writing a story is to make the journey to completing it. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it only has to be finished.
19. What’s on your desk?
My desk is organized chaos. I have souvenirs from Greece, a couple books, a candle (away from the books), my purse, and some plants. But I also have my writing tools: My laptop, hand-drawn maps for and notes for my various locations and settings, and a printed critique email that has helped me improve daily.
20. When can we get your next book and what’s it all about?
At the moment, I have a brand new release called AMBER SKY. It’s a prequel to my YA steampunk horror trilogy and centers on a side character named Nash, telling the story of how he met his captain. It’s free for all newsletter subscribers and can be read outside of the main series. In December, I’ll be releasing another novella in the same series called SMOKE SKY, told from another side character’s perspective. I had a lot of fun writing these two novellas and am excited to share them.
Press-ganged into servitude by a ruthless band of marauders who survived the devastating Storm, Nash has grown tired of his career– the young, undefeated champion of the Stray Dog fighting pits. All he longs for is a place to live where his family is not his enemy.
When his captain gives him an assignment to embed him deeper into the crew, Nash attempts to refuse, until the life of his friend is threatened. Determined to save her, Nash embarks on the mission to subjugate and control a supplier. But the supplier has other clients, one of which could be the son of the most feared pirate captain in all of Westraven.
And if Nash plays his cards right, the key to his deeply desired freedom, if he can live with the consequences of his choice…
Set two years before the events of CRIMSON SKY, this prequel novella tells the story of how Nash and Sawyer crossed paths– and fists. While best enjoyed before reading CRIMSON SKY, this bonus story can be read at any time or enjoyed as a standalone.
Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery,” and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.
Her short stories published by independent houses like Mocha Memoirs Press and April Moon Books, and she has independently published a collection of standalone and series novels including Storm Born, Path of the Horseman, and the Cursed and Dark Sky series. Many of her short stories have been featured in anthologies such as Amok!, Avast, Ye Airships!, and That Hoodoo, Voodoo, That You Do, and Stomping Grounds.
More from Amy:
I’m a huge fan of novellas that take place in between or before the events of full length novels. I like reading new perspectives from characters who are fan favorites, but not necessarily key to the story or the plot. I love the Dark Sky world and wanted to tell more about it, but I didn’t want to write a story between Midnight Sky and the final Dark Sky novel, scheduled for February 2017. After the finale of Midnight Sky, I knew I couldn’t just leave readers hanging, so I decided to tell the stories of two side characters– Nash and Gemma.
In Midnight Sky, there are events that hint at Nash’s past. The more I wrote it, the more interested I became. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the full length novel, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to tell more of it in Amber Sky, the prequel novella. I worked on a simple, straightforward plot that was true to Nash’s character and expanded on his time with the ruthless Stray Dog Clan, steadily bringing Sawyer into the picture.
I have to say, that was my favorite part of writing this novella. Nash and Sawyer have a pretty easygoing relationship (as long as Sawyer isn’t feeling moody), but their banter always made me smile. Their friendship is unexpected for both of them, and forms out of a truly dark place.
As happy as I was to complete Amber Sky, there were of course steps to take to ensure it’s publication. The story was too short to send to print, so I chose to offer it as an ebook only. I like this exclusive, because it gives me a chance to offer something free to my newsletter subscribers. I had the manuscript edited by a Beta reader, who had great insights, and an editor who’s helped me with the Dark Sky series before.
After that came the absolutely stellar cover. Deranged Doctor Design always does amazing work, but this truly blew my mind. I was so happy with the end result that I approved the first draft. No nitpicking for this one!
The biggest challenge then came with promotion. I’m still learning the tricks of the independent publishing world, and tried my hand at creating my promotion without the use of a blog tour service. I’ll likely return to that for the final Dark Sky novel, but I wanted to try my own hand at it. I’m pretty impressed with the final result, and have nothing but gratitude for the reviewers and bloggers who have been kind enough to host me. Offering a free short story for newsletter subscribers is great, but I couldn’t have done this at all without the people I’ve listed above.
Writing Amber Sky has been a fun little challenge that I’m grateful I undertook. I feel it added to the experience and depth of the Dark Sky novels, and can’t wait for other readers to enjoy this new perspective.
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What are you waiting for? Get your copy of AMBER SKY! I know you'll love it as much as I do!