Tag Archives: Meet the Author

Kacey Vanderkarr, Poison Tree (Reflection Pond, Book 2)

As you know, I love to talk shop, and love to hear what other authors have to say about their work and the craft. Recently I read a deep, well-crafted novel written by indie author, Kacey Vanderkarr. The book is called Reflection Pond and I liked it enough to feature it on my book review blog, Best in Fantasy. (You can read my review of her wonderful book here.) Kacey has consented to answer my inelegant questions (further down this post) and what she has to say is quite interesting!

She has written a sequel, Poison Tree (Reflection Pond, Book 2),  and I am happy to have been offered the opportunity to be one of the first to reveal the cover–and a lovely cover it is. And she has also agreed to answer a few questions regarding her work and her life as an indie author–and wow, what great insight into the industry she has.  But first–THE BLURB:

Poison Tree

By Kacey Vanderkarr

Release date: December 2, 2014

The road to the City of War is dangerous.

With their home in ruins, Callie and Rowan are Eirensae’s last hope of stealing the cauldron back from Fraeburdh. They must travel into the human world where the Fallen hide. The banished fae wait for Callie, desperate to sacrifice her before she comes of age.

If Callie and Rowan survive the journey, something worse looms in Fraeburdh. Rowan is destined for a dark family legacy too horrifying to accept, and his father is anxious to welcome him home. Once the truth is revealed, will Callie ever look at Rowan the same way?

Trapped between feuding cities lost in a centuries’ old war, Callie and Rowan will face their biggest rivals yet, and neither of them will make it out unscathed.


(Just so you all know, I am definitely going to buy that book!)


And now the Cover:




That’s an awesome cover to go with such an intriguing blurb.  And now, we meet the author, an amazing woman who is a driving force in the writing life of Flint, Michigan.

CJJ: Tell us a little of early life and how you began writing:

KV: I began writing back in high school, though I didn’t officially consider myself a writer until I was on summer break from my first semester of Ultrasound school. Inspiration struck in that four-week break and I spent it writing my first complete novel, a YA Fantasy that I’ve since rewritten. I fell in love with those characters, and to this day, I still have a soft spot for them. It took some time, but I realized that I could fall in love with other, different, characters, and I have again and again, through novels and short fiction. I think writing is part neurosis and part pure joy. There are times when I love and hate it equally!

CJJ: Tell us about your most recent book.

KV: Poison Tree is Book 2 in the Reflection Pond Series. It’s the continuation of Callie and Rowan’s story as they make their way from home into the dark faerie city, Fraeburdh, which is also known as the City of War.

I’ve always been fascinated with fantasy. In doing some research, I found information on a legend involving four treasures. My own story is loosely based on the original four treasures of Tuatha Dé Danann.

CJJ: Do you have a specific ‘Creative Process’ that you follow, such as outlining or do you ‘wing it’?

KV: I am a certified winger. Swooper. Pantser. Whatever you want to call it. I usually have a general skeleton of a story when I start, a beginning, middle, end, though I never outline. There may be an idea for a scene or two as well. My joy doesn’t come from structure, but spontaneity. I’ve tried outlining before, and then I feel determined to stray as far from that plan as possible. I love the blank page, the possibility. I save the note taking for after I’ve written the rough draft.

CJJ: How does your work differ from others of its genre?

KV: I think that Reflection Pond and Poison Tree take risks. I had a reviewer suggest that Reflection Pond be marketed to ages 17+ because it has a “handful of profanity” and “alludes to child abuse.” It doesn’t allude. It happened, and I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m not scared to examine the dark parts of life, and I don’t condone blindfolding my readers to make them feel more comfortable. These books cover a lot of dark topics, and I’m proud of that, especially when reviewers say that it’s handled in a sensitive manner. The truth is, bad things happen to people who read YA, and everyone needs a character that they can relate to. Not everyone will be able to connect to my characters when they read and that’s okay. But for those who have suffered and survived, there is still hope, and I want them to find it when they read my books.

CJJ: Why do you write what you do?

KV: I write based on inspiration. A lot of that manifests as YA, though I have written a few adult short pieces, some new adult, and some straight up fantasy. I think young adult looks at a very transitional place in a character’s life. It gives a lot of options to the writer. That being said, I have absolutely no idea where my career will take me. Right now, I consider myself a YA writer, in the future? Who knows!

CJJ: I know why I chose the indie route for my work, but I’m curious as to why you’ve chosen this path.

KV: I am all over the place when it comes to publishing. My first book, Antithesis, was published by Inkspell Publishing, which is a small press. That was a great experience for me. I learned how to market, how much work it is to publish a book, how to work with an editor and cover designer. Inkspell is very supportive and patient with their authors. However, for my second book, Reflection Pond, I opted to self-publish. I’d sent it to agents, had a few bites of interest, but nobody wanted to pick up the series. At that point, I had to make a choice. Who did I write this book for? In the end, it was myself, and if I wanted it to be out there in the world, then I had to publish it myself, too. It was a long process with a lot of ups and downs and uncertainty, but I’m SO HAPPY I did it. Self-publishing has opened even more doors for me and widened my net of contacts. I’m proud of these books because every page is mine.

However, I still want an agent, which is why I’m now querying a different project. So, I’ve done a bit of everything. I’d love to have an agent and publish traditionally. The important thing is patience, which is what I keep telling myself!

CJJ: What advice would you offer an author trying to decide whether to go indie or take the traditional path?

KV: I think both traditional and self-publishing have their pros and cons and neither one is better than the other. What matters is the work. Traditional publishing is a bit like having good luck. Your writing can be amazing, but you have to attract the right agent at the right time, and then again with an editor and publisher. Self-publishing gives you more freedom. You get to choose who you work with, have say in what your cover looks like, make editing decisions.

Both paths are hard.

If you indie publish, I suggest making friends with someone who knows the ropes and can help you get it done. That’s the great thing about writers, we’re friendly and helpful, colleagues not competition, because we’re also readers who love good books.

The last bit of advice is DON’T GIVE UP. If you want to indie publish, do it. If you indie publish and still want an agent. Go for it. There is no wrong way. Don’t let the industry, your family or friends, or yourself keep you from your dreams. Just remember, the publishing industry moves SLOW, SLOW, SLOW, so have patience and trust your gut.


I have to say, I really enjoyed reading her answers–Kacey Vanderkarr has some awesome advice for all authors, not just indies there!


Kacey VanderkarrKACEY VANDERKARR is a young adult author. She dabbles in fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, complete with faeries, alternate realities, and the occasional plasma gun. She’s known to be annoyingly optimistic and listen to music at the highest decibel. Kacey is president of the Flint Area Writers and the Social Media Director for Sucker Literary. When she’s not writing, she coaches winterguard and works as a sonographer. Kacey lives in Michigan, with her husband, son, and crazy cats. In addition to her novels, Antithesis and Reflection Pond, Kacey’s short fiction is featured in Sucker Literary Vol III, Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland, and will appear in Spark Vol VII and the inaugural issue of Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. Check out her website: www.kaceyvanderkarr.com.

You can purchase the wonderful book that begins this series at:

Reflection Pond on Amazon

If I were you I would Add Poison Tree on Goodreads--I just did!

And here is her Author Facebook Page–go out and ‘like’ her–she’s an awesome person!

Kacey Vanderkarr’s Blog-check it out!

And finally–you can follow her on Twitter!

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Lindsay Schopfer, ‘The Beast Hunter’ launch

The Beast Hunter, Lindsay SchopferToday, Lindsay Schopfer, well-known Pacific Northwest author of science fiction and fantasy, instructor, and writing coach has consented to answer a few questions for us. His second book, The Beast Hunter is launching today, and I’ve been privileged to read an advance copy of it. If you are looking for an action-adventure in set in another world, brimming with political and personal intrigue, this is the book for you!

CJJ: Lindsay, you were one of my daughter Meg’s closest friends in high school. I’ve followed your career from the early days of your first play, “Techies,” knowing you had a wonderful future in writing ahead of you. Your own real life tale has been a wonderful journey, so tell us a little of early life and how you began writing:

LS: I started writing as a little kid, and I guess some people would have called me a prodigy. I wrote and produced my first full-length stage-play at 13, and went on to do five more, including two runs of “Techies.” After high school, I took a break from writing and spent two years as a service missionary on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. That experience, coupled with a health condition which could randomly cause me to be paralyzed for hours at a time, taught me important lessons of hardship, hope, and love.

I went to film school in Canada for a year, thinking that I would continue my passion for acting and directing, but I eventually realized that I just wouldn’t be able to tell the fanciful stories in my head unless I put them into novels. While I still daydream about film adaptations of my stories, I have to say that I’m very happy with my work and life right now.

CJJ: My favorite Lindsay Schopfer quote says it all, “I only write when I’m inspired, and I make sure I’m inspired every morning at 9 a.m.”  How do you channel the randomness of inspiration into an appointment?

LS: Actually, that quote originally comes from Peter De Vries, but it’s something that I try to live by as well. For me, turning on my inspiration means creating a mental place where I feel safe to be creative. I map out the times of day I have available when I seem to be the most productive and set them aside. I listen to music that fits my mood and the kind of writing I’ll be doing. I also try to remember that I can write whatever story I want to, so that I enjoy my work rather than feel confined by it. Ultimately, if I make writing my break from the world, then I don’t feel the need to take a break from my writing.

Lost Under Two moons, Lindsay SchopferCJJ: I read Lost Under Two Moons, and really enjoyed it. I find that your work is well-structured, with creative environments, good tension, and deep characters. Do you have a specific ‘Creative Process’ that you follow, such as outlining or do you ‘wing it’?

LS: My ideas for stories usually come in two parts, the beginning and the ending. Once I have those two points established in my mind, writing the novel is just a matter of connecting those two dots. I don’t do a lot of outlining because I find that I start to lose interest in a story if I feel ‘chained’ to a guideline I’ve set for myself. I do enjoy doing world-building early on, though I usually just sketch out enough details to get me started and only add to it if I get stuck. Of course, once the first draft is done, I always go back and fill out the rest of my backstory and world-building notes, but that’s usually a case of noting what I came up with as I was writing and trying to maintain continuity throughout the story.

CJJ: You are highly involved with the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, which I am also a member of. You gave a workshop on May 2nd, regarding turning off the inner critic. What advice would you give new authors, who may be struggling with this common problem?

LS: Like I said earlier, turning off the inner critic and getting inspired is a matter of creating a place where you feel safe to write. For some people, this means writing when you’re not fully awake. I do my best writing at three different times, when I first wake up, at around two in the afternoon (siesta time), and just before bed. Another way to turn off the inner critic that’s especially useful to new authors is to work on multiple projects at a time. Too many first-time authors have this mindset that they have to put all their good ideas into their first novel, or that the first book has to be perfect. By working on more than one project at a time, the writer is constantly reminded that she will have more chances than just this one book, which can be a common anxiety. Having a second project also means that you have a creativity lifeboat, and if you get writer’s block on one project you can “run away from it” and yet still be writing until you’re ready to go back.

CJJ: I absolutely agree, and I usually have three projects going at a time myself. So, I know why I chose the indie route for my work, but I’m curious as to why you’ve chosen this path.

LS: Actually, I never intended to be an indie author. When I finished Lost Under Two Moons, I pitched it to agents for a while before releasing it as an EBook and later in print. My decision to indie-publish that novel came mainly from a desire to start selling books and establishing a market for myself. I wanted credibility as a generative artist, and to be honest I felt like that happened once I finally had a book people could buy and read.

The Beast Hunter was also originally intended for a traditional publishing route. In 2012 I went to PNWA’s summer conference and asked agents what it would take to become a hot commodity to them. The answer I got was that I needed a built-in fan base, so I wrote The Beast Hunter online serial. Once I had the fan base, I went back in 2013 with my completed novel and loyal readers, and pitched it. I was shocked that the same agents who had encouraged me to do the serial now said I had ruined my chances for success with this book because I had already “saturated the market”, though I’d like to think that there are plenty of people who would like The Beast Hunter who haven’t read the serial! I decided to keep the serial going as a way to reward loyal fans, and indie-publishing the novel seemed like the best way to tie-in the serial with my novels.

I haven’t given up on traditional publishing. I have two additional book series that I’m working on that will be intended for a traditional book deal. I’m hoping that the exclusivity of these stories combined with the fan base from my indie publishing will finally allow me to be a hybrid author with both traditionally and independently published books.

CJJ: That is a great plan of action—one that addresses negotiating both sides of the publishing dilemma.  What advice would you offer an author trying to decide whether to go indie or take the traditional path?

LS: Don’t give up on traditional publishing. While the industry is still trying to figure out how to handle the electronic revolution, it is filled with very intelligent professionals that really know the business of selling books. On the other hand, I don’t think writers should give the industry any more power than it already has. An author desperate for representation and publication is an easily exploitable resource. I would advise authors to try for traditional publishing first, but don’t be overly eager. Remember that the greatest power you have is to say no, no to an agent that isn’t good for you, no to a publisher that won’t push your book, no to a book-deal that demands too many rights. Keep that in mind, and if you feel like your project isn’t right for traditional, go indie.

CJJ: Your new book, The Beast Hunter is launching today. This is a book with an interesting history! Tell us a little about it and how it came to be.

LS: The Beast Hunter actually started as a 1,000 word flash fiction story that I wrote more as an exercise for myself than anything else. I wanted to see if I could write an action sequence, something I hadn’t tried doing in my fantasy writing since becoming serious about pursuing a career as a novelist. At the time, I was playing a steampunk CRPG called Arcanum Of Steamworks & Magic Obscura, so I decided to try writing about a hunter using 19th century technology to bring down a monster.

I liked the result, and decided to expand on the character of Keltin Moore by continuing his adventures in a free, online serial.  A little more than a year later I’d finished the first season and The Beast Hunter had gained an international following. It’s kind of funny, because for a long time this story was my side-project, something that I wrote on to relax and just enjoy writing. To see it in print now is kind of like inviting all the world to play make-believe with me, and I’m excited to continue the adventure.

CJJ: Lindsay, thank you so much for being here today! I must say, I am looking forward to hearing your presentation at the PNWA convention on July 18, 2014 on UNLOCKING CHARACTER MOTIVATION.  I will be taking notes!

The Beast Hunter Books For Africa Fundraiser Event

To celebrate the launch of his latest book, Lindsay has decided to donate one dollar to Books For Africa for each verified copy of The Beast Hunter that is sold in the next two months!

Here’s how it works. Purchase The Beast Hunter in paperback or EBook form and then take a picture of yourself with your new book. Post that picture on this event page, and Lindsay will make a donation. Only one donation per copy of The Beast Hunter.

Books for Africa is an organization with just one goal: to end the book famine in Africa. BFA is the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African Continent, and has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator. A donation of 50 cents is enough to send a book to a child in Africa. For more about this amazing organization, check out http://www.booksforafrica.org.


Lindsay SchopferAbout Lindsay Schopfer:

Lindsay Schopfer is the author of the rural steampunk adventure novel The Beast Hunter (2014) and the fantasy adventure novel Lost Under Two Moons (2012) . His short fiction has also appeared in The Daily Times, an international newspaper based in Pakistan. When he isn’t writing, Lindsay is a writing coach and instructor for Adventures In Writing, where he helps writers learn about and improve their craft.  He is also a mentor for Educurious, a Gates Foundation-funded program designed to connect high school students with professional writers.

Lindsay’s books are available at amazon.com and through his website, http://www.lindsayschopfer.com

You can also sign up for his wonderful workshops through his website at Adventures in Writinghttp://www.yourwritingadventure.com






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Meet Author Connie J. Jasperson

I’ve had a lovely time meeting this man (ape.)

edit: Okay – At first I keyed in “Mating”.

That did not happen.

But the man behind the ape is a wonderful person, and I did enjoy MEETING him!

*See me walk out to the car with both feet in my mouth*

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Profile Pc 9-7-2013 jpegConnie J. Jasperson lives and writes in Olympia, Washington. A vegan, she and her husband share five children, eleven grandchildren and a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, and is the Olympia area municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. Music and food dominate her waking moments and when not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly. An avid gamer and obsessive fan of the Final Fantasy RPG Empire, Connie began writing short stories and fairy tales for her children, and progressed to writing the storylines for an RPG computer game. The game was never put into production, but the story launched a series of books, the Tower of Bones series. Writing, reading and gaming takes all her free time not spent living la vida loca with her grandkids.

You can find her blogging on her writing life at: Life…

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