An Author Spotlight on Hayley Barrett

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When thirteen-year-old Emily Jane MacFarlane is woken by her mother’s screams, she is certain someone has discovered her family’s secret – that they are Drifters, a race of people whose ancestors were genetically modified causing their blood to become a cure-all Elixir for the people of the City.

Her first thought is to save her Ma. When that becomes impossible, she promises to keep her little sister safe.

But her attempts expose her family’s secret to her entire village and Emily Jane is torn away from her sister. She is taken to Area D – the City prison where Drifters have their blood forcefully extracted again and again – where she is set to spend the rest of her life.

But Emily Jane can’t forget her baby sister, and although no one has ever escaped from Area D, she is determined to get out of there and fulfil the promises she made – even if it takes the rest of her life.

–excerpted from Hayley Barrett’s In The Cool Light of Dawn

Whoa! Now this I need to read. But, it’s Barrett’s brand new novella and a sequel, so I have to read book one first, right? She says absolutely not.

“In the Cool Light of Dawn takes place before Into Darkness with a different POV character.  It can be read at any time – you don’t need to have read Into Darkness to follow this book.  Emily Jane is a minor character in Into Darkness (she takes on a bigger role in the next book in the series), but I found that she had quite a back story.”

So the books are related, but not written in chronological order–this is a juicy extra in between the series of full-length books. I love that! When authors delve deeper into the history and landscape of their own invented worlds, you can be assured of a great read, with layers and layers of a rich story. Barrett tells me that there is a whole extra story between where this one ends and where Emily Jane first appears in Into Darkness but she hasn’t written that one yet. This is promising, and I’m so glad I’ve discovered this author!Hayley 01June15

Hayley Barrett began writing in the aftermath of the devastating Christchurch (New Zealand) earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 as a way of escaping from the ongoing terror of the natural disaster. In 2012 she commenced a novel writing course with NZ Writers College. Into Darkness, her debut novel, is the result of the course and two years hard work.

Hayley lives in Rolleston, New Zealand, with her husband and three children. When she isn’t driving her kids to their sports practices, games and other after school activities, she enjoys playing squash, relaxing in the sun and reading. Most days she wishes there were more hours available to spend writing.

You can find In The Cool Light of Dawn HERE on Amazon. Join the Facebook Launch Party tonight to celebrate it’s release!

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A Character Study with L.J. Higgins

coversL.J. Higgins’ dystopian trilogy takes place in a future world devoid of dreams…mostly. The MultiMind Corporation had released a Wristcuff to be worn over a microchip implanted beneath its host’s skin. Dreams were no longer created by the subconscious. However, there were those for whom this technology failed to work on: the Dreamers.

In book one, we met Amelia. She was a Dreamer, and the veil of ignorance was lifted when she met someone who helped her see through the lies and secrets. With her world shaken and changed, Amelia had to decide whether to fight for truth and the freedom to dream or remain bound by a controlled and manipulative society.

 

sketch In the new release, Fall of the Dreamer, we meet Harper. She’s an old school hippy stuck in 2024 and runs a little head shop complete with boho lanterns and dreamcatchers.

There was Harper with her baggy boho pants and white singlet, her dreadlocks tied in a mass behind her. The walls were adorned with various mandala sheets, and there was a multi-coloured wall hanging of a man with dreadlocks. Harper said his name was Bob Marley. When I’d told her I was unsure who that was, she’d laughed and told me to ask my grandmother. A small table with a purple cloth laid over it sat in the center of a handmade rug woven of all shades of colours, and the smell of patchouli hung in the air.”

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I can’t wait to meet her! Fall of the Dreamer is out this month and Higgins is throwing a Facebook launch party to celebrate, along with four other YA authors. Come join us at the 5 Author Extravaganza! There will be Dystopia, Romance, Sci-Fi and more. Chat with the writers, play some games, and win some prizes.

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L J Higgins hails from Queensland, Australia, and her love of books motivated her to return to her dream of writing a novel. The result is inspiring, showing dreams can be achieved if you have self-belief. She hopes to instill in her children the wonderful world of imagination and dreams.

“I think that for me, both art and writing (which is an art in itself), allow me to use my vivid imagination and allow people to see things, and the world around me, the way I see them. I guess it is giving someone a glimpse of the world through my eyes. I’m often told I am quite quirky and come out with strange ideas, but when they read my books or see my paintings I think they understand that those ideas and beliefs are what makes me who I am,” says Higgins.

Connect with her on her website, https://ljhigginsbooks.wordpress.com, on Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads. Find her books on Amazon HERE.

An Interview with Michelle Lynn

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Author Michelle Lynn has a new novel out this month called Choices. It’s a romance and I am really looking forward to reading it, since I greatly enjoyed her dystopian Dawn of the Rebellion. Read my review HERE.

SW: Michelle, thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. Tell me a little about Choices and your inspiration in writing it.

ML: Choices is about the idea that certain worlds need to be kept separate because they can’t possibly mesh without negative consequences. We’ve got Michaela, a young woman who has never had many options in her life. She is from a prominent family that has certain expectations. They’ve pushed her to date the right boy, to associate with the right people, and even to go to law school. She’s reached a point in her life where she wants to choose anything that is not that life. When she gets the opportunity to live her own life, she forsakes everything from before. The book is about her journey to discover that she may not have to choose between the two lives.

My family is very close. We love each other but we are also very different people. I have one sister in particular who everyone always tells her how she should live her life – at least those outside our immediate family do. I guess I wanted to write a story about becoming independent from the expectations of others without leaving the person you used to be behind.

SW: What are some fun things to know about your characters? Do you ever fall in love with your own fictional love interests (I do!)?

ML: I fall in love with my characters all the time. It’s one of the fun things about writing. In my main character, Jason, I was able to create my ideal man. He’s sweet and loyal. He takes care of the people around him. Plus, he’s a hockey fan. He isn’t perfect but where would the fun be in that?

SW: No fun at all, I agree. You’re used to writing about less than perfect worlds, though, right? Your last series of books was Dystopian, but this new release is Romance. Why did you decide to switch genres, and do you think that’s a risky thing to do as an author?

ML: It can be risky, yes. I have no clue how my readers are going to react to this book. When an author switches genres it’s almost like starting over. You have to go after a completely new set of readers. This book is a bit older so that will be a new challenge for me when it comes to marketing.

The third book in my dystopian trilogy was very heavy. Between the action, the deaths, and finding a perfect ending, it was so emotionally taxing to write that I had a hard time writing anything for months. I would start them and then not be able to go on, feeling drained. I needed something light, which I thought this would be. It ended up being a little more complex than I planned, but books tend to take on a mind of their own.

SW: So, what is it about the Romance genre in particular that interests you?

ML: It’s very pleasant to write. Some of the characters have troubled backstories, but there’s nothing truly dark. I’m used to writing about the end of the world. That takes something out of you. The romance genre as a whole is more about hope.

SW: You’ve talked about your books having some New Adult themes, yet you classify them as Young Adult. Why is that?

ML: The term ‘New Adult’ has come to mean something more than just the age of the characters. It used to be that YA characters were teenagers and NA characters were twenty-somethings. That was the distinction. Now NA is more R rated than PG-13. There’s nothing wrong with that, I read smut, but it just isn’t my book. My characters are in their twenties but the more adult themes are implied rather than spelled out.

SW: Yes, I wish we had a little more control of the changing distinctions as authors. Genre choosing is already such a slippery slope.

You’ve written quite a few books at this point! Do you have any tips for writers just getting started? What was the most helpful thing you learned along the way, and what was the biggest pitfall?

ML: The most helpful thing I’ve learned is to not do it alone. Where’s the fun in that? It truly takes a village – editors, cover artists, beta readers. I’m a writer, I leave the rest of it to the people who can do it better than I can. It’s one of the mistakes I made when I initially published my first book. Since then, I have found amazing people to work with and an incredible writer’s group that I can’t imagine what I ever did without.

SW: I believe you’re speaking of YAAR? Yes, Young Adult Author Rendezvous is an excellent, diverse group of authors.

Family is a big theme in your books. Why is that? Does your own family enter into your novels?

ML: I love my family. We’re very close. But, they aren’t really represented in this book as much as my trilogy. Michaela is close to her brother, but her family is a bit messed up – as is Jason’s. My family would do anything for me and they’d accept me no matter what I did. Michaela’s family is learning to be a bit more like that, but they have a long way to go.

SW: What has been the hardest criticism to take about your work? Did it help or hinder your writing? How about your favorite praise?

ML: The hardest criticism is when someone doesn’t like your book but fails to tell you why. Those pesky one star ratings. Even if it isn’t fun to hear, I like to know why someone didn’t like my work. I realize it isn’t for everyone. Criticism teaches us a lot more than praise does.

SW: Have you ever experienced writer’s block. If so, how did it hit and how did you get over it?

ML: Yeah (laughs), how about right now? It’s less about not being able to write, and more about actually making myself sit down and do it. It’s a discipline. It usually hits me when I reach a relatively slow part in my book. I’m excited to write actions scenes, less so for the mundane stuff that has to go in a book for it to make sense. Sometimes, I just have to force myself away from any distractions and pound it out.

SW: That’s funny. I feel the same way about writer’s block and experience it in much the same way. I could do it…but I really don’t feel like it right now.

Tell us something weird about yourself that very few people know.

ML: I have one of those weird memories that forgets important, every day stuff, but remembers random things. As you can tell by my book, I’m a hockey fan. Just call me the stats master. I might remember certain players shooting percentage while forgetting to feed my bird. Or, I can remember exactly what someone said to me two weeks ago but forget an appointment for that day.

SW: Well, then I must read Choices, because I know absolutely nothing about hockey. It’s settled! Thanks so much again, Michelle, and good luck with your new release.

Find Choices on Amazon HERE.

Connect with Michelle on her website, http://www.michellelynnauthor.com, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Read more about Michelle’s author group, YAAR, on their website and blog, http://yaarendezvous.com.

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A Book Review of Dawn of the Rebellion, by Michelle Lynn

 

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Buy it on Amazon HERE. Visit the author’s website HERE.

Dawn Nolan is not someone you would think of as heroine material. She’s scared of thunder, scared of boys, shy and mousy. Her sister Gabby really doesn’t fit the bill either. She get’s pinched for lifting a bracelet within the first couple chapters. Drew is a spoiled rich kid, too good looking to trust or believe in. But author Michelle Lynn gets her dystopian world up and running in record time. Her characters act just as fast, and we get to know them through their choices and reactions to an unforgiving environment.

We quickly realize the world as we know it has all but shut down, civilization hanging on by the thread of strict military control. America is nothing but a legend, ruined by draught, famine, disease and war. England is a brutal empire and punishes its citizens by sending them to slave colonies. Remember that stolen bracelet? I’m sure you can guess what happens to Gabby, and why Dawn decides to become her unlikely savior. The story is quickly transplanted to the mysterious colonies, and it doesn’t take long to understand where those are located. Turns out there are a few Americans left after all.

Lynn delivers what could seem like a complicated backstory with efficiency, only giving us the information we need, then letting our imaginations fill in the rest. I mean, who could really be too shocked that this scenario could one day be our fates? All that’s needed is the term “global warming” at this point for us to understand quite a lot of backstory on our own. I’m so thankful that, instead of dwelling on the details, Lynn dives right into her own reality, and we’re ready for it. Characters’ personalities bloom and details of this new world trickle out steadily, as Dawn and Drew get on with the business of rescuing Gabby.

This author is not afraid to throw in a twist you never expected, and it’s a harsh world she’s created–just when you really connect with your favorite character, you might have cause to worry about his or her fate! By the conclusion, the theme of an incredible bond between sisters comes to the fore, a development I liked as much as I came to like the two sisters. Layers of revelation and an emerging deeper plot make this book an excellent start to a promising series. I’ll definitely continue with book two–I’m not sure I have a choice!

–Sarah Wathen

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Michelle loves connecting with readers. Check out her social media outlets and blog on her website, http://www.michellelynnauthor.com. Click HERE to read our interview about her new release, Choices, due out this month!

Michelle is a contributing member of YAAR, Young Adult Author Rendezvous. Find out more: http://yaarendezvous.com