Chatting about “Dear Author” with Laura A. Grace

K.A.:
Laura A. Grace is here today talking about her new release, Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl!

Welcome, Laura! Tell us about Dear Author.

Laura:
Eeepp! I would love to! I am SO excited to be here today!

My book is called Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl, and it is fifteen letters with six illustrations (yes, six because I’m a big fan of books needing more illustrations these days) that are specifically written to indie authors. I wrote about all the emotions a fangirl like myself feels while reading their books and what I would love to say to authors personally as they labor over their works-in-progress.

Laura:
Here is the official blurb for my nonfiction motivational read. :)

Think your words might not matter? Think again. Words have the power to change lives, especially when they are used to create meaningful stories. In this collection of letters, bookish fangirl Laura A. Grace addresses topics related to every writer’s journey. From “character conversations,” to embracing one’s unique writing style, to celebrating a release day—there is a letter for every author no matter where they may be in sharing their story with others. “Dear Author” includes six illustrations by Hannah S.J. Williams.

A Hannah S.J. Williams illustration from Dear Author.

K.A.:
Where did the idea for Dear Author come from?

Laura:
Earlier this year, it became blatantly apparent I was struggling deeply with postpartum depression after my third child was born due to a lot of stress. In order to focus on my mental health, I felt like I needed to stop book blogging as well as pull back from a few other commitments I had.

To say it broke my heart is an understatement. I am extremely passionate about supporting authors and was scared I would be unable to blog for a time. Because of that, I decided to write a letter to my author friends, pouring out my heart of why I cared so much for them and their stories (and wanted them to keep writing). It was sort of a moment of me asking, “If I could say only one thing, what would it be?”

However, after that first letter, I didn’t stop. I was deeply moved by what I had written and continued sharing all of what was in my heart. It helped me handle the days when I felt lonely and missed being active online.

K.A.:
That’s tough to step away from something you love, especially when you’re already hurting. But it’s important to take care of yourself. And it’s such a brave step to honestly face a situation like that, take action, and then share those emotions with others—reaching out to them from a deeply personal place. Wow. *hugs*

K.A.: So, how did these personal letters transition into a motivational book? What was the thought process behind it?

Laura:
“Hey, what if we actually shared this with more then one author? That would be so cool, especially if it could encourage more than one author!”

That was totally my initial idea to really consider publishing these letters and not just letting them sit on my computer. LOL! The idea made me excited because not only could I continue to encourage authors (just in a different way), but I could also share a book that encompassed my whole fangirl heart. It was like me, but on paper!

K.A.:
Did you make any discoveries about yourself writing this book?

Laura:
I LOVE writing by hand!

Seriously, it birthed me actually loving writing and has transformed my view of writing by A LOT. I was not one of those writers who has written stories since they could hold a pencil or daydreamed about being a published author in high school. I started writing because I felt called to write and most likely wouldn’t otherwise because I LOVE reading. *hides bashfully*

When my friend suggested I physically write these letters and not just type them, I never imagined how much I would deeply love the process. It’s relaxing and somehow refreshing. There is no stress for me to “pound out” a certain amount of words or even perfect words. Just me, paper and pencil, and a willingness to discover. :)

A Hannah S.J. Williams illustration from Dear Author.

K.A.:
Writing by hand can certainly be a good way to quiet the inner critic! Has writing this story changed you?

Laura:
That’s a tough question! Maybe that I can write and publish future stories? For so long I felt my own fears of writing would make me incapable of actually penning a story.

However, concerning this book, these letters only reaffirmed that I am indeed extremely passionate about supporting authors. I already knew this beforehand, but now, it’s something I am really acknowledging and embracing. I make plans in my weekly schedule to make sure I’m sharing all the indie book love instead of trying to push it away because “there are more important things to do.” (Ha! Soooo not true! *winks*)

K.A.:
What do you hope readers gain from your story?

Laura:
When I was brainstorming messages I wanted or could include in the front of Dear Author with my signature (which is still SUPER surreal by the way), I knew I wanted to convey something that could sum up my book in one sentence.

It turned out to be two (LOL), but it was this: “Keep dreaming! Keep writing!”

I would definitely say that is what I hope readers will come away with when finishing Dear Author. I want them to be encouraged to keep dreaming about their stories and writing them down because there are readers waiting for a story only they can share.

K.A.:
Do you have a favorite line or moment in the book?

Laura:
Ooo another tough question! I have a few, but I think this might be my favorite:

I want to be someone like your hero is. Someone who is brave, bold, and shows others through their actions and words that people are worth fighting for. I want to step out of my “bookish” worlds and enter our “real world” to make a difference in someone’s life. I feel I only need to look at the friends, family, and strangers around me to leap into action.

It captures a bit of the power I feel books have on readers and how I have personally gotten inspired time-and-time again from the books I read. <3

Laura:
Thank you SO much for letting me share! I had a blast and am so blessed by your support!

K.A.:
Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl is available on Amazon and at other book retailers.

And if you want to learn more, check out the other Dear Author blog tour stops here.

K.A.:
It was so good to have you here, Laura. Thanks for sharing your heart and reaching out to encourage others through your book, Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl.

About Laura A. Grace

Laura A. Grace had a lifelong dream of getting to know authors behind the covers of her favorite reads. Little did she know that one day she would become an author too! Now an avid book blogger at Unicorn Quester and writer of clean, Christian manga, Laura creatively balances her passions of supporting indie authors and feeding her readers new stories. In between, she wields plastic lightsabers with her children and binge-watches anime with her husband. Join her quest to find wandering unicorns for your favorite authors at unicornquester.com!

You can also connect with Laura on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Or sign up for her newsletter.

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Wrapped up in E. Bronwyn Hinkle’s The Lawrence Chronicles

K.A.:
E. Bronwyn Hinkle is with us today to talk about her Christmas-themed flash fiction collection, The Lawrence Chronicles.

Welcome, E. Bronwyn! Glad you’re here. Please, tell us about your story.

E. Bronwyn:
The Lawrence Chronicles is a series of flash fiction adventures centered around a particular ex Marine. He never expected to be hired as a member of Santa’s security force, and now he deals with all kinds of situations he never would have believed possible. Of course, if Santa is real, other mythical creatures are too. Now the Ex-marine runs a different kind of special ops: North Pole & Magic Relations Security. With a candy cane between his fingers and an elven blaster on stun, Lawrence faces trial after trial of ridiculous adventures from wrangling pixies to the Lochness Monster. He is best friends with Donner and spends much of his time keeping things in order, the way his predecessor, Sprinkles the Christmas elf, used to.

K.A.:
That’s awesome! We’ve had several Marines in our family, including my husband and our middle child (who’s currently serving). So you hooked me with ex-Marine and ridiculous North Pole adventures. Lol.

How many stories are in your collection?

E. Bronwyn:
The book contains 42 flash fiction adventures all ranging from roughly 700-1000 words. It’s quite the genre mashup of sci-fi fantasy/action adventure. I didn’t have a target audience in mind when I wrote it, but it’s geared to be very family friendly and children love it.

K.A.:
Sounds like the perfect book for reading a story or two each night leading up to Christmas. What inspired you to create it?

E. Bronwyn:
Christmas ninjas. Many years ago my friends and I were gathered for our monthly writer group. We always started a session off with a writing prompt, and that night, it was “Christmas Ninjas”. From that I came up with the ridiculous premise of an Ex-Marine who worked as Santa’s Head of Security, his arch enemies being of course the elf ninjas. I set the story aside for a while, but eventually I began writing more and more flash fiction pieces centered around Lawrence and his misadventures. One day I looked and realized I had more than fifty short stories and I thought, well, why not make this into a book?

K.A.:
Tell us about the research that went into writing this story. Did you venture into any new areas or topics?

E. Bronwyn:
There is a surprising amount of research in Lawrence! I learned more about reindeer, different myths and legends, and facts about all kinds of wild animals. I didn’t venture so much into unfamiliar topics, since I’d always been kind of interested in that sort of thing, but I learned a good many off-the-wall legends and animal facts that I never would have otherwise!

Discover more about reindeer at
https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/reindeer (external link).

K.A.:
Off-the-wall legends and facts? Intriguing. So, what was the most interesting thing you learned?

E. Bronwyn:
Well, turns out that reindeer can actually see Ultraviolet light! It helps them since they live in an environment that is almost always a blinding white. I was so excited to discover this in my research because not only is it absolutely incredible, but it played perfectly into my idea that in this world, the reindeer are one of the few magical creatures who can see through perception magic. The magic that many mischievous creatures, like pixies and goblins, use to hide themselves from others and create dangerous illusions.

K.A.:
Cool. As a huge fan of Easter eggs, are there any hidden references readers should keep an eye out for?

E. Bronwyn:
Oh absolutely yes! I don’t remember them all. Did you ever watch the old Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie, with Sam the snowman? I hid quite a few references to that movie, and even the old stop motion Santa Clause is Coming to Town one! I think of those movies as relatively cannon in my book.

K.A.:
A classic Christmas movie!

The Lawrence Chronicles is available on Amazon.

K.A.:
It’s been fun to have you here, E. Bronwyn Hinkle. Thanks for giving us a backstage tour of your Christmas-themed, flash fiction collection, The Lawrence Chronicles!

About E. Bronwyn Hinkle

E. Bronwyn Hinkle is a writer with a love of the ridiculous and a passion for writing goofy, clever stories that encourage people to think and to laugh. She was born in California but spent a good part of the last twelve years in Ohio. I’m obsessed with Stargate, Georgette Heyer, Middle Earth, and Narnia, and love to write Y/A, flash fiction, and whatever strikes my fancy in between. It is her goal to write someone’s comfort book, a book that helps someone get through a hard time or brightens their day. It’s also a goal of mine to one day drive around in a black 1982 Pontiac Trans Am.

You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Journey to Allen Brokken’s Towers of Light Series

K.A.:
Allen Brokken is on the blog today, talking about his upcoming release, Light of Mine! It’s the first book in his Towers of Light Series, a Christian fantasy series aimed at middle-grade readers.

It’s good to have you here, Allen! Before we launch into all the behind-the-scene fun, tell us about your series.

Allen:
The Towers of Light series insightfully examines childlike faith from the perspective of three small children, facing insurmountable problems… and succeeding, by faith and grace alone. It introduces Lauren (12), Aiden (9), and Ethan (5) who bear the responsibility of keeping their Father’s newly constructed Tower of Light shining in his absence. This become more imperative when Father goes missing, and Mother goes to find him. The children are left to fend for themselves as trusted family friends begin to disappear and strangers take control of their rural enclave. The children must use their wits and the wisdom of scripture to shine their light to defeat the evil threatening to extinguish the tower of light.

K.A.:
Facing a situation like that would be daunting enough for an adult, but three kids? Wow. What an adventure! Where did the idea for this series come from?

Allen:
When my kids were young there was really nothing better than getting out of my car at the end of a long day at work and having my three little kiddos run up to me and give hugs because Daddy’s Home!  As a Father of three young children I was very concerned about the direction society was taking.  I wasn’t sure that with how things were going that I had the knowledge or the skill to train them up in the way they should go, as the Bible directs.

Then in 2008 I took a new job that had me traveling four days a week.  It was one of the hardest times of my life, the stress of a high pressure job, the loneliness of being on the road, and uncertainty of being a young parent really brought me to the end of myself.  However, all of the travel gave me a lot of time to study the scriptures and learn from the writing of great bible teachers. 

It was during this time that I began to write stories for my children.  At first I brought my children’s stuffed animals to life for silly adventures.  But then one day while we were putting together a play fort in our back yard I saw a sunrise pattern in the wood in the top of the tower.  I thought:

“What if there was a Tower of Light shining God’s goodness over the children and their animals?”
“What if the children experienced the indwelling of the holy spirit in a real way like Sampson or David?”
“What if the full armor of God was physical armor they could use to defeat the darkness?”  
As I shared my story with my children, they loved it. 

K.A.:
How special for them—to have their father connecting with them through stories while traveling. And including their stuffed animals too.

Tell us about the research that went into writing this story.

Allen:
For me novel writing and book publication were the research topics. The setting is really based on old prairie mid-west architecture, dress and customs. I was surrounded by all of that growing up. Although I did visit Historic Williamsburg Virginia, Silver Dollar City and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Missouri and the Old Threshers Reunion in Iowa to get specific on things related to horses, and 18th and 19th century technology for later books.

K.A.:
What’s the most interesting discovery you made?

Allen:
That writing a novel isn’t like writing software. I’ve been in Information Technology for almost 25 years. My whole professional career has been about getting stuff out that’s “good enough” and reworking to better in the next iteration. Apparently books don’t work like that. I figured that since I originally published an eBook I could just iterate on it until it was good enough. That’s not really how it works. In the end I do have three major editions of what has become Light of Mine, but the 3rd is the last. I got an amazing editor, S.D. Grimm, and creative team Loriann Weldon of Magpie Designs, Gen Gavel, Teddi Deppner, J.J. Johnson and my son Ethan Brokken helping with the end-to-end marketing, promotion, cover design and all that. But it took three years to get here.

K.A.:
Very true. I’m a huge fan of Easter eggs. Any hidden references, details, or tidbits readers should keep an eye out for?

Allen:
So if you are paying attention there are a number of non-English words in the book.  There’s a code to them.  If you break the code it gives away who is on the dark one’s side very early in the story.

K.A.:
Cool! I’ll be on the look out for the code. Is there anything you can tell us about your plans for the series?

Allen:
Book two, “Still Small Voice” is at the 50% content edit point and should be ready for release in June of 2020. One of the characters from Light of Mine, the Acolyte of the Dandelion Order has a big role to play in “Still Small Voice”. I’m going to put on a contest to name that character in December.

Along with that God, willing I’m going to be doing NanoWrimo for the to be named third book in the series. So if you decide to get invested in Light of Mine the series will be coming quickly. Since I’m a bit of a discovery writer I’m not sure if Book 3 is the end of if it’s going to 4 or 5 books just yet. I’ll know more at the end of November.

K.A.:
Light of Mine, the first book in The Towers of Light Series, releases November 3rd and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

And to celebrate the release…

Every Friday in November, Allen will be doing a #FollowFriday post on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. He’ll select one random follower from each and send them Limited Edition 3d printed Lego Compatible weapons so you can make your own “Lego Me” like the kids in the book!

K.A.:
Allen, thanks for giving us a backstage tour of your Tower of Light Series. Looking forward to reading it!

About Allen Brokken

Allen Brokken is a pastor at heart, a husband and father most of all. He’s a joyful writer by the abundant grace of God. Follow his endeavors @towersoflight, @twodadsandajoke, and http://www.brokken.net. Your children can grow their own faith and love of God by following the adventures of Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan (plus their pets!) at instagram.com/towersoflight.

 

 

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