Author Interview: A. A. Chamberlynn--Zyan Star, Successes, Mistakes, & Gnocchi

Today we are so lucky to have Author Alexia Chamberlynn here with us to talk about her writing journey--the ups and the downs--her most recent (and upcoming!) book releases, and FOOD. We're excited to be able to add another recipe to our ol' What Authors Eat tab at the top of our blog! So, thank you so much for being here to chat with us today, Alexia! 

If you, dear reader,  haven't yet read her bestselling YA urban fantasy series starring kick-butt heroine Zyan Star, YOU ARE MISSING OUT.  This series has it all: You want snarky and funny? You've got it. Mystery, rivalry, romance? Oh, yeah. Battles, sword fights, rioting, tension, and good vs evil?  What are you waiting for? Links to purchase this book are in our side bar or at the bottom of this post. 

But first, let's hear what Alexia has come to share with us:

What's your writing journey been like?

I started writing at a very young age, and attempted my first novel when I was twelve. That began a string of unfinished novels and bad poetry throughout my teens. Getting the hang of jobs and adulting intervened in my writing for a few years, and then about seven years ago I started again and haven’t stopped since.

What's been your biggest mistake?

I like to think that most mistakes are just temporary, and can even be good if we learn from them and craft that knowledge into a tool for getting us further down our path. So, nothing really heinous is popping to mind other than a dark period I went through when I was really depressed about my writing. It was after I’d been in one of the big writing contests, I think it was Pitch Wars, and I’d been the top pick of my mentor, and we’d won our age category (I was trying my hand at Middle Grade at the time) and three agents had requested, and I was SURE it was my time. But it wasn’t. Two of the agents passed and one left agenting altogether. I spent a year or so licking my wounds and questioning what I should be writing, and whether it would grab an agent’s attention. I stopped and started a lot of projects and didn’t gain much traction on any of them. Lessons learned: 1) Middle Grade is probably NOT my best target audience (I mean, I’m writing steamy adult fantasy now LOL), 2) While it’s good to have a feel for the market and what’s selling, you still have to write what makes you happy. I wasted a lot of time floundering when I could have finished some things. But then I went on to write the book that landed me my agent in a frenzied, inspired six week rush, so, it all worked out.

Your grandest success?

You might think it was landing my agent but actually it’s been my self-publishing journey. I first wrote Martinis with the Devil in 2012. It was my second completed novel. Zyan’s voice came easily to me, I have just always loved writing her. A lot of agents loved the book, but said urban fantasy was too hard a sell and to query them with other things. I also put Martinis in a ton of writing contests and had lots of early Zyan fans that way. But when I didn’t land the Zyan series with an agent I moved on to other books. So, in 2015 when I decided to self-pub I knew it would be Zyan. It was like a homecoming to pull it back out again, dust it off, write a new prequel adventure (Black Magic and Mojitos) and jump back into her world. And now it’s hit the Amazon bestsellers lists a few times and it’s just SO fantastic to see other people love the books as much as I do.

Quote to live by?

Anais Nin, naturally:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

News to share?

The third Zyan Star book, Vengeance and Vermouth, will be out on September 16th. This book will wrap up Zyan’s current story line, but she will be back in 2017, never fear!

Favorite recipe and drink pairing?

Oh man, I am all about cooking and drinking, so this is tough. Okay, I’ll say my skillet gnocchi and a red wine.

For the gnocchi I buy a package of gnocchi at the store (I made them once and it was incredibly challenging), and simmer in a pan with olive oil, veggie broth, minced garlic, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of cannellini beans. When it’s starting to come together, add some kale and mozzarella. I season with salt and pepper and fresh rosemary from my front porch garden. It’s cheesy and delicious with a tang of earthiness from the kale. Yum! I’m a vegetarian, but you could probably add sausage if you wanted meat.

For wine, I like Green Fin organic red table wine. I get it at Trader Joes. It’s like $5! And so yummy. Really fruit forward but not sweet.

Most important advice?

Have fun! Try not to wallow for too long, though us writers do seem the wallowing sort. Find good and honest critique partners. Keep honing your work!

About Alexia

Alexia is the author of the Amazon bestselling Zyan Star urban fantasy series. She lives in Florida with her son, two cats, and a bearded dragon. When she's not writing or reading, she can be found playing with horses, drinking wine, traveling to the next place on her global wish list, or maybe doing yoga. Dr. Who, unicorns and katanas make her very happy. She is represented by Sandy Lu of the L. Perkins Agency. 

Connect with her at www.alexiachamberlynn.com.

About Martinis with the Devil

When offered a job on the Holy Representative’s special security team, bounty hunter Zyan Star couldn’t be less interested – until she finds out it’s her most hated of exes that they’re trying to track down. He broke her heart and dumped her, which in turn led to the loss of her soul at the hands of an immortal soul thief. Now she too exists on a diet of souls, with the occasional martini thrown in for good measure, and she’s had over two hundred years to fantasize about revenge. She just didn’t quite imagine it playing out alongside the emissaries of Heaven.

Working with Eli, the uptight angel that heads up the HR’s security, is just about as much fun as Zy expects. He of course wants her vampire ex brought to justice through legal avenues, which is very inconvenient and incredibly boring. As she dives into the case, however, she realizes there’s more at stake than her plot for payback. Like, the free will of mankind, and preventing the minions of hell from taking over the sovereign dimensions.

This job is going to push her to the limits of her abilities, and there’s just a slight problem with that: the powers she’s suppressed for centuries after losing control of them are exactly the powers she’s going to need to save the HR, end her millennia-old ex and stop Lucifer’s little plot to join the party and invade Earth.

Savior of humanity? Not so much. Or so she thought.

Martinis with the Devil, Part One purchase links

Smashwords       B&N     Amazon      iBook

I love that Alexia has learned from every step of her writing journey and through all the ups and downs has landed in a perfectly happy and successful place. Thanks again for hanging out with us today, Alexia! I wish we were more than just virtual friends, I'd totally get together for a glass of wine or two, though I prefer a dry red, Malbec is my fave. 

Have you shared any of the same ups and downs in your own life, whether at work, school, or with your writing? Are you totally excited to check out Alexia's books? Have any questions for her? Share your thoughts in the comments.



I'm excited to be a part of today's cover reveal for Katie Kaleski, a friend of mine whose debut YA Contemporary Romance novel: A FABRICATION OF THE TRUTH is releasing  September 20th 2016!

AND...HERE IT IS! HER COVER! I know, perfection, right?

Pre-order starting TODAY! AMAZON

You'll want to be first in line to order this novel because Katie is a superb storyteller with characters that are unique and always teach readers something new about people and the world.  This novel is entertaining with natural and humorous dialogue and situations. But don't think Katie won't have you crying at some point along the way, too, because this story is also dramatic and heart-wrenching. Don't believe me? Well, then you must read the book blurb below:

The last time Lexie Stein saw Dalton Reyes he lay in a pool of blood, hovering somewhere between life and death. Now, five years later, he’s the new guy in her high school.

What happened between then and now is a mystery Lexie is afraid to explore. Just one lie uncovered from her past can cause the house of cards she’s so carefully constructed to come crashing down around her. And Dalton is the key to that past.

She doesn’t need her grandmother’s warnings to convince her that Dalton means trouble. But the bond they shared as kids seems to have only gotten stronger, transforming into something wonderful and powerful.

When Dalton opens up about the intervening years and what they mean for his future, Lexie is determined not to let him get away a second time.

Oh, yeah. You want this in your TBR pile on Goodreads. PLUS, you can enter the author's giveaway to win a free copy of your very own if you check out her Goodreads page! Here's the link:  Goodreads

Interest piqued? Well, then you'll want to know more about this up-and-coming author:

Katie Kaleski is a young adult author that hails from the midwest. A Fabrication of the Truth is her debut novel, but she will have plenty more books coming very soon. Her favorite food is cereal with milk, she holds cookies in high regard, and she loves all things cute and fuzzy.

Find Katie at any one of her social media homes:

Want an even BETTER chance at winning a FREE copy for yourself? Enter MY giveaway! That's right, one lucky blog reader and COMMENTER will win a copy of A FABRICATION OF THE TRUTH. Spread the word. All your reader friends and family should have a copy. And you all have one week to enter, so that gives you until Monday, August 29.  Comment on this post and ENTER THE GIVEAWAY BELOW!

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My Very First IWSG Post EVER!

Welp. It's the first Wednesday of the month, the day the Insecure Writer's Support Group posts about fears and insecurities and maybe even offers words of encouragement and advice to other writers. It all started HERE by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Follow the links to learn more, to find the blogs of all the other participants, and maybe even join in the fun yourself!

I just happened to be making my way through the blogosphere today and realized it's the day the IWSG does their thing, and I thought, HEY! You want to be a serious writer? You want to get back into blogging on a daily/weekly basis? You need to TRY this thing! So, it's my FIRST ever IWSG post! And talk about being INSECURE!!  Even when I wasn't blogging regularly, I still hopped around once in a while and saw all the first Wednesday of the month posts going on for forever, and I think I'm even a part of the IWSG Facebook group, but POSTING today?!? I feel like I'm the shy, quiet, girl with zero friends trying to sit at the cool kids table in the high school cafeteria!! I feel like I'm crashing this HUGE party, completely uninvited! So, hopefully some of my old friends recognize me and offer me a chair or scoot over to let me sit by them?!? Maybe say, "Hi, Christy! What are you eating today and how has life been and I think I noticed you in the back of my sixth period Chemistry class!"

This month's focus question:
What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

After reading a couple of other writers' blogs, I realized there were firsts before my first completed manuscript. Firsts from when I was a child. There was the dark thriller I started sitting on the concrete floor of my parents' unfinished basement. I wrote about a paragraph of that one. There was the story about the girl in the haunted boarding school that I wrote after my dad brought home our very first computer. I have no recollection of how far I got in that one. There was the mystery series I penned while sitting in sixth grade study hall. I think maybe I outlined the first three books and got a few chapters into the first one.

But what I really consider my first is the manuscript I wrote in 2010. SOLSTICE. It's the manuscript that brought me to writeoncon.com where I met Erica and Michael and a handful of other writers who I came to know through blogging and critiquing future works, well, mostly SOLSTICE cuz at the time I thought, Hey! I wrote a novel. What do you mean it won't get published?!?! And then I posted it at querytracker and entered it in contests and rewrote the beginning a BAZILLION times and it got red-lined and chopped to bits by online readers. I queried it with a two-page long query that I squished into one by shrinking the font. I printed that over-written, purple-prosey manuscript out and put it in a binder and teacher friends read it and then finally, I read SHIVER and felt inspired to write something else. So, thankfully, I moved on. And then moved on from that manuscript, and another one after that....and six manuscripts later, here I am! SOLSTICE is still in that binder collecting dust under my nightstand or bed. It was about a girl, Dawn, who discovered she could see the auras of others. And then there was something about an alternate dimension. And there was her love interest, Lawrence. And other than Phin, the guy from the alternate dimension, I can't remember what the conflict in the story was. Probably why I could never nail down a query for that one!

And, that's that. Since I am feeling so very insecure today, I don't feel brave enough to offer advice of my own, but I do want to offer encouragement, so, friends, keep on keeping on! Write on! I'll be here until next month when it's time to try this thing again!

So, thanks for letting me plop myself down, brown bag lunch and all, right in the middle of all you COOL people out there.

This week I invited an author friend of mine to guest post about her writing journey (HERE), the hurdles she jumped to get to where she is today, and I feel that's quite fitting to link to for the spirit of the IWSG posts, so I'll leave you with her words of encouragement and advice:

So persevere and Write On! Outsiders might think we’re a wussy bunch but I know the reality—it takes a lot of guts to be an author.--Kathryn Berla, author of 12 HOURS IN PARADISE



Guest Blogger: Author Kathryn Berla--My Writing Hurdles and How I Overcame Them

We are so excited to have young adult author Kathryn Berla with us today to share her writing and publication journey!  

Christy reads everything of Kathryn's she can get her hands on because Kathryn's writing is lovely, her settings are without a doubt some of the best she's read, and her characters are always complex, surprising, and fun to get to know. 

Without further adieu, welcome our good friend, and amazing author, Kathryn!

Thank you so much, Christy and Erica, for inviting me to share your platform and allowing me to talk about myself here in order to give my husband a break at home.

I’d love to start out by sharing a bit of good news. I’ve just signed two of my titles with Amberjack Publishing. “Dream Me” and “The House at 758” now have release dates in 2017.

My journey as an author has been relatively short (about five years) but it started long before that. I was an English major with an emphasis in creative writing and I had a dream of writing a novel. But as John Lennon once said, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans, and life intruded until—before I knew it—my kids were out of the house and I decided to make my long ago dream a reality.

But I was seriously insecure about writing something that other people would actually read. So I started a blog, which really wasn’t a blog but a WordPress site where I wrote short stories and random essays about my life.  And I posted them fairly predictably twice a week. I linked the site to my personal Facebook account, all the while hoping nobody would actually click on it and read what I’d written. Because writing for strangers is scary enough. But writing for your friends and family…well, that was a whole different level of scary.

And then a funny thing happened. I took a break from my “blog” and people I didn’t even know were reading my Facebook posts, let alone my blog, started commenting.

“When are you coming back?”
“Why did you stop your blog?”
I love your stories. Please bring them back.”

So that’s how I dipped my toe into the proverbial waters of writing and then learned to let go and dive in. And the water was fine.

The next step was getting an agent which came fairly easily. I got four offers for my first novel and, in retrospect, I think it was because I had an unusual subject matter and an even more unusual title. Beginner’s luck. Then even more beginner’s luck—a publisher for my second novel (the first one got me a few agents but not much else). In a strange twist of fate, my first publisher was Penguin Random House in Spain. I wrote the novel in English but it was translated to Spanish. I couldn’t even read my first published novel.

There have been many twists and turns between that time and this past April when my second novel was published by Limitless Publishing. If my first writing hurdle was being okay with strangers reading my work, my second hurdle was getting comfortable with marketing myself to the world. I love all publishers, traditional and indie—but it wasn’t until I had an indie publisher that I got over that second hurdle and, in fact, came to love it. If a traditional publisher holds your hand and presents you to the world, an indie publisher teaches you how to hold your own hand and present your own self to the world. Funny thing is I actually enjoy this part because I love people and this is where you really get to interact with others.

So agented or unagented, traditionally published, indie published or self-published, the quicker you get over those hurdles, the better off you’ll be because you can’t be an author until you do. Or you can be an author but your manuscripts will stay hidden in your bedroom drawer forever.
There’s one final hurdle I had to get over and that was being okay with the occasional negative review. Of course I told myself it’s a subjective field and not everyone will love your story but many will—isn’t that what agents tell us when they turn us down? But it still felt like a sucker punch to the stomach when I read my first bad review.

Here’s how I dealt with it.

Assuming your bad review is on Goodreads, click on the reviewer’s name and take a look at their other reviews. Find a book they awarded 5 stars to and click on that book. I can guarantee you someone else has given that book a 1-star rating. Perhaps many people have. That’s how you remind yourself of the subjectivity of this business. Better yet, don’t read your reviews although (I know) easier said than done. 

A quick word about agents. You can do it with or without an agent. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that getting an agent is the ultimate goal. It’s not. And if you get one, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can kick back and your troubles are over. They’re not. When it comes right down to it, you and you alone are the driving force behind your writing career.

So thanks for bearing with me through my story. I hope (cringe cringe) that you enjoyed it, but if you didn’t, I know someone out there did. And that’s the way it goes in the world of writing.

So persevere and Write On! Outsiders might think we’re a wussy bunch but I know the reality—it takes a lot of guts to be an author.

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Have your own writing hurdles to share? Questions or comments for Kathryn? Leave us a note in our comment section below! 

Love YA romance? With a beach setting? Don't miss Kathryn's 12 HOURS IN PARADISE! 
Twelve hours, thirty-six questions, and a chance to fall in love…

On sale now. Amazon

 It’s the last day of Dorothy Patmont’s family vacation. Soon, she must head back to Reno, where all that waits for her is the cold and the snow. To top it all off, her brother, Chester, acted like a little jerk and ate one too many cookies from the sample jar in the cookie store. But his antics have an unexpected benefit—attracting the attention of an intriguing boy who could change her life forever. 

Treats can be sweet, but love is sweeter still… Arash Atkinson, fluent in four languages and an adventurous soul, is in Waikiki for a high school band competition. When he meets Dorothy, he realizes their time together is limited. “Come out and play,” he texts her. A night of romantic adventure ensues, and Arash discovers an app that claims it can make people fall in love after answering thirty-six questions in each other’s presence. With each question asked, their stories and feelings continue to unfold. But with every hour that passes they’re more at risk of being found out—Dorothy, by her parents, and Arash by his school chaperone. And then Arash gets the dreaded phone call—he has been discovered missing from his room, and must return immediately. 

Can they finish the questions before facing their consequences? When time is running out, true love cannot wait. What Arash and Dorothy have is beyond special, something that comes along once in a lifetime, and begins with Twelve Hours In Paradise…but can it survive the trials of the real world?

For more information on Kathryn, you can learn more in another interview she did HERE. It includes a playlist for her novel 12 HOURS IN PARADISE!