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Guest Post + Giveaway: Samantha Young On Writing and On Self-publishing

I’m super excited to have Samantha Young, author of The Tale of Lunarmorte series, the Warriors of Ankh series and one of my favorites, the Chronicles of the Fade series, stop by today to talk about writing and self-publishing.

The next book in the Warriors of Ankh series, Blood Past, will be releasing in eBook format on Friday, so in anticipation we’re also having a giveaway of a few sets of this series. All those details are below.

If you haven’t yet heard of Samantha Young, be sure to check out her books on Goodreads or on her blog. I’ve also had the pleasure of interviewing her in May, if you’d like to know more, here.

Anyway, on to why you’re really here, the guest post…

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On Writing

My mum and dad bought me this huge brown paper sack full of books before I started primary school (I was four I think). I still remember that sack… I even remember a couple of the books that were inside it too. That sack was like Christmas for me that day… and thus began my obsession with the written word.

A few years later C.S. Lewis was the first writer to introduce me to the world of the fantastical. I was pretty much a goner from that point on. Anything magical, supernatural, paranormal… I was hooked. I still have one of the first stories I ever wrote. I was seven or eight… going on forty. We were given an assignment at school to write a short story and the title had to be ‘How ____ Came to Be’. Our teacher had a bag full of words and we each had to pick a word out of the bag. My word was ‘Snow’. ‘How Snow Came to Be’.

I wrote about an angel called Atlantis whose wings were moulting. She’d cry and cry and pray for them to stop but they wouldn’t. One day she finally found the courage to ask God why her wings moulted when all the other angels’ wings were fine. God told her not to see her difference as something to be sad about but to use that difference to make the world a more beautiful place. He told her to break off her wings and pluck the rest of her feathers off and watch them as they fell from Heaven to Earth. Atlantis obeyed God and was amazed by the beautiful sight. She named it Snow. Every year Atlantis grew new wings and started the process all over again. Clearly as a kid I had no concept of geography or meteorology but my mum thinks it’s the cutest story ever (that’s why we still have it). I even drew a picture to go with it. God is pretty hilarious, he looks like Zeus dressed as a rap-star with these huge gold G’s all over his white robes…

…Is this what makes someone a writer? Funny anecdotes about their writing from a wee age? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. I love hearing wonderful stories about writers who never even picked up a pen until they were in their middle years. All I know is that writing isn’t something I just decided to do one day. It’s been a part of me since I turned the first page of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

For some, writing is as easy as breathing. They sit down with a notebook or at their computer and they just start writing. There are amazing authors who can churn out brilliant books just by letting the words take over.

I’m not one of them.

Oh how I wish I was.

There’s actually a lot involved for me before I even begin writing a novel. The newest addition to my process is this lightweight noticeboard you can pin stuff to. I’ll take you through how it goes. First, I choose my concept. Second, I start researching that concept. I buy non-fiction books; I glue myself to Wikipedia and/or Jstor where you can access research papers on different subjects. Anything that I think may be potentially useful gets jotted down on a piece of paper or sticky note and pinned to the noticeboard. This is followed by a very un-zen like trance where I sit in front of it and try to make sense of everything I’ve stuck to it. Categories of supernatural beasties, mythology, legends, historical facts… a photograph of Supernaturals Jensen Ackles…

When I’m done being distracted by hot TV stars that bring nothing to my writing process except procrastination, I sort out my basic plot. Is it an Events story (something happens to put the world out of order and the story is about the struggle to undo what was done either by making things the way they were or establishing a new, better order); an Idea story (one in which a problem or question is posed at the beginning and then at the end is resolved or answered); or a Character story (the story is about a person trying to change his/her role in life)?

Once I have the basic plot figured out and it’s standing patiently at the ready, I take all of my notes off the noticeboard and begin pinning up in-depth character summaries. If I don’t know my characters well before I start writing, I can find myself making contradictions in their nature and decisions. Not good. So, long character summaries go up: name, physical description, past, motivations, expectations, character’s relationship/interaction with other characters, habits etc.

And when we’ve gotten to know each other as well as we possibly can, I start plotting out the chapter summaries. It would be great if I could say I was the kind of writer who can take a couple of chapter summaries and start running with them… but no… I have to have the entire novel mapped out. And once that’s done, I sit in front of my board with my laptop and I start writing.

Of course Jensen Ackles has been completely discarded by this point otherwise I’d never get anything done.

On Self-publishing

It took me a while to come around to the idea of self-publishing. I think most writers spend so long dreaming of seeing their novel advertised in bookstores around the country that it can take something huge to shake them out of that fantasy. It took two things for me. One was the realisation that all I really wanted was to be able to share my novels and I wanted the readers to decide if they were worthy or not. And secondly, I read J.A. Konrath’s wonderful blog A Newbie’s guide to Publishing [http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/] and was convinced that there really was life in self-publishing.

I was still feeling tentative about it until awesome indie writers Amanda Hocking and John Lock hit the scene. They seemed to have taken the advice of the established indie writers and it was working out well for them. I am passionate about writing, dedicated, and willing to sacrifice my free time to make it work and so, with a lot of support from friends and family, I took the plunge.

It is still more work than I could ever have imagined.

But it’s completely worth it.

To read more about my journey to self-publishing check out my in-depth blog post [http://samyoungyafantasyauthor.blogspot.com/2011/08/12000-sales-in-july-how-i-got-there.html] where I discuss what did and didn’t work for me and how I turned writing into a full-time career.

Thanks for having me, Rachel!

What you can win:

From the author: eBook sets of the first two books in the series, Blood Will Tell and Blood Past, to three winners from Smashwords.

From Fiktshun: eBook sets of the first two books in the series, Blood Will Tell and Blood Past, to two winners from Amazon.

The deets:

* One entry per person

* Must be 16 or older to enter

* Giveaway is International

* Giveaway ends August 19th at 11:59 p.m.

* Winner will be chosen by Random.org

There is no requirement to like or follow. But if you’d like to spread the word that would be awesome!

To enter, fill out the form below:

Thank you everyone for entering the Warriors of Ankh giveaway. I will be going through the entries for the author’s giveaway first, and once those winner’s have been chosen, those participants that wanted to enter both giveaways will be entered into Random to be selected for Fiktshun’s giveaway.

Stay tuned… winners will be announced here on the blog in the morning. Good luck to everyone who entered and I hope you all get a chance to read one of Samantha Young’s books as she’s an amazing writer.

And the three winners of the author’s giveaway are…

Congratulations to Jemmarah Naomi, Nicole and Carina! (As there were two Carina’s, I had to add an identifier to the name so they would be distinguishable by Random.)

I will be notifying you by email that you’ve won and sending on your details to the author so she can email your eBook prizes.

And now for my giveaway…

Okay, so I decided to have three winners… Congratulations Katie, LadyVampire and Carina Olsen! I will be notifying you by email and then sending on the Kindle gifts to you from Amazon. Each Kindle book will come as separate emails from Amazon, so be sure to check your junk filter just in case. There will be two.

Thank you so much to everyone who has entered the giveaway and thanks once again to Samantha Young for stopping by the blog and posting. You are welcome any time! My fictional door is always open!

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