Friday, July 27, 2012

Interview with Jennifer L. Armentrout, YA rising star

From Jennifer's website:
Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you've heard about her state aren't true. She is the author of the COVENANT Series (Spencer Hill Press), the LUX Series (Entangled Publishing), and the upcoming YA contemporary mystery/thrillers DON'T LOOK BACK (Disney/Hyperion Fall 2013) and yet untitled book (Disney/Hyperion tentative Fall 2014).

I first heard of Jennifer when I signed with Spencer Hill Press this past February and I was astounded by all of the buzz about her online and the sheer volume of books she had coming out. I wanted to know-who is this woman who has sold fourteen books and why hadn't I heard of her? So staggered was I that I immediately downloaded her free novella from SHP, Daimon from her Covenant series (not to be confused with the mc from her Lux series, Daemon) to see what all the fuss was about. I was really taken in by the pace, the humor and the kick-ass sassiness of her heroine, Alex and bought Half Blood. I liked it, started reading and then got distracted by a million other things and read it a few pages here and there. Then I was lucky enough to get an arc of Obsidian at the BEA and-started reading and was instantly HOOKED. Like could not put down hooked. From the great dialogue to the steaming romance, to the coolness factor of a love story between an alien and an ordinary gir—to be honest, I was surprised how much I did love it. I went on to read Pure, book #2 in Covenant and downloaded Shadows, the very touching and heartbreaking prequel to Obsidian which helped me to understand exactly why Daemon acts like such a jerk. Am I a fan girl yet? You bet I am--and I even met Jennifer at BEA, know she is a normal human being, and yet..

I've since been trying to figure out why Jennifer's books are as addictive as chocolate ice cream and I have a few ideas.

For one thing, her characters, though perhaps better looking than your average human (or alien) are far from perfect. In Half Blood of the Covenant series, Alexandria has serious anger issues and loves to punch things that piss her off. Her love interest Aiden seems perfect, but isn't sure if he wants to risk everything to be with Alex. Oh, and then there is the narcissistic demi-god Seth, who has all of the best lines. You gotta love him and Alex's love/hate relationship with him.

In Obsidian,Daemon is quite plainly, uber-hot, but obnoxious, and Kat is kind of a lovable nerd and book blogger who is no shrinking violet. So while the characters are a bit larger than life, they also have very distinctive personalities which comes through in their behavior and dialogue.
Her plots are breakneck exciting. You never know what's coming.

Then there is the humor. All of Jennifer's characters have great lines, and I often found myself guffawing out loud. Okay—I'm too lazy to point any out—so you will have to read one or all of her books yourself!

That being said, what I really wanted to explore here is how Jennifer did all of this in such a short amount of time. How any human being writes so much, all of it terrific. I'm not even sure where to start, so bear with me.

1. When did you start writing?
As cliche as this sounds, I've been writing since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I started wit poetry and i really sucked at that. I moved on to writing short stories and then when I was in the 8th and 9th grade, I wrote my first full length novel by longhand. It was called The Forbidden Ones and I'm pretty sure that sucked also. But I've been writing as long as I remember.

2. What was your journey like from aspiring author to published?
It wasn't the typical path. I started off like almost everyone does, searching for an agent for Half-Blood. That book also had about a 1,000 different titles, but I queried about 30 agents before I realized that my query was so bad it was embarrassing. I found the website Query Tracker, which helped me write a good query. Off I that, I got partial and full requests from agents, but after about a 100 queries-- Yes, a 100-- I trunked the book. Meanwhile, I'd been working on Cursed (and guys, always be working on something else). There was this query contest being run by Spencer Hill Press. I entered the Cursed query in their contest, but actually submitted the Half-Blood query to them as a submission. They asked for a partial and then the full, and within a day, they made an offer of publication. I owe pretty much everything to them, because they were willing to take a chance on a book I pretty much put on the shelf. From there, I sold Cursed to SHP (9/2012) and an adult title to Entangled (Unchained 10/2012). Obsidian came next, and around that time I gained representation from one of the agents I'd been Internet stalking the whole time. Through Kevan Lyon, I went out on submission with another YA, a contemporary mystery/thriller that sold to Disney/Hyperion along with another title in a pre-empt. If my path tells aspiring writers anything, there is NO ONE path or traditional path. Things have a way of working out, even if you don't start off like others do.

3. You are a social media genius. Any promotion tips for other authors out there?
Ha. I wouldn't consider myself a genius at it. I like to talk and connect with people, so that helps. Do what you feel comfortable with and don't make it about selling your book. I think where aspiring authors go wrong is that all their tweets and stuff is links to buy their books. It's like they're just robots who tweet buy me links. That's a huge turn off.

4. Tell us about your process. How much time do you spend writing each day?
Writing is my career, so I treat it like one. I dedicate time every day. Every. Day. There really is no such thing as weekends for me. I usually write anywhere from 6 to 10 hours a day. When I start to go cross-eyed or stir crazy, I take a break. There are days when I don't want to write and unless it's a serious case of "I don't wanna" I make myself do it. Setting goals help.

5. How long does it take you to write a book?
It really varies. The quickest I've ever written a book was about 7 days (Obsidian) and the longest it has taken me is about 2 to 3 months. Several things factor into that-- how big the story is, the plot and pacing and if there are issues with that, and if I have other things going on. The story pretty much determines how long it will take.

Thanks for having me!

You are so welcome Jennifer! It's been a pleasure.
If you would like to learn more about Jennifer and the worlds she has created, visit her at:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The BREAKING GLASS art project kicks off...

I'm starting a series of art pieces created by Susannah, the missing girl from my forthcoming novel BREAKING GLASS. I will probably eventually plug this into some other format, like a special blog--I'm not sure. But this first piece is Susannah's self-portrait entitled CURRENT STATE.

 Stay tuned as this project builds and grows.

And please let me know what you all think..

You can also..
Follow me on twitter

Find my author page on Facebook:!/AuthorLisaAmowitz

and add BREAKING GLASS on Goodreads

Friday, July 6, 2012

Guest Post: The Hero's Journey by Katheryn Rivas

The Hero's Journey: A Theme in any Story Worth Telling
I'll never forget the first time I sat down and watched "Star Wars." For years I had dodged the endeavor because I thought the film series sounded downright cheesy. 'An epic tale that takes place in galaxy far away? No thanks.'
As a devout English major, the best epic tales I had ever read were confined to the pages of literature and mythology, and, in all honesty, Odysseus and Achilles sounded far more interesting to me than Anakin or Luke Skywalker. Yet when I finally did see Star Wars, my view of great storytelling and epic tales all changed. In fact, my teachings and understandings of literature and mythology came full circle into one clear realization: The hero's journey was the universal theme present in any story worth telling.
It's important to say that it would be impossible to discuss the hero's journey without mentioning Joseph Campbell, author of "The Hero With a Thousand Faces," which gives a more in-depth discussion and analysis of the hero's journey. Campbell analyzed how throughout the history of literature and great storytelling there remained a number of universal themes that take places in the monomyth – more popularly known as the hero's journey. Some common themes within the main three steps ­– the departure, the initiation, and the return – include the call to adventure, refusal of the call, supernatural aid, woman as temptress, refusal of the return, the crossing of the threshold, and many others.
I've had numerous literary friends seek to disprove my discussion of the hero's journey whenever I bring it up in relation to fantasy writing. "By saying something like that you strip away the unique voice and eccentricities of writers out there," my passionate friend once said to me. And yet, I have to disagree. Writers are continually drawing upon what they know, and much of what we know about literature has already taken place many times over. Therefore, many epic fantasy tales' themes and storylines will inevitably crossover each other. Don't believe me? For argument sake, I've taken two cultural phenomenons – Harry Potter and Star Wars –and compared some of their many connections to the hero's journey.
Departure: The Call to Adventure
Who could forget the moment Harry Potter uncovers his invitation to Hogwarts. The moment in which Harry rips open the sealed envelope is more than just a few lines in a book. It is Harry's call to adventure. In this moment, we are introduced to a boy who is to become a wizard. Neither Harry nor the audience knows all the adventure that is to come, but all we can know for sure is that he had the choice to reject the call, but like all great adventures, Harry does no such thing. In Star Wars, we see Luke Skywalker do the same thing. When Obi-Wan Kenobi asks Luke to come along with him to train and become a jedi, Luke quickly turns him down. Here, Luke has taken the approach of rejecting the call, but, as we all know, the story doesn't end there. When Luke comes home to find his aunt and uncle murdered and himself an orphan, he knows he has no choice but to accept the call to adventure and join Obi-Wan in training.
Initiation: Atonement with the Father
As we enter our second stage – initiation – we start to see one of the most common themes in literature: the father. For one reason or another, fathers have become one of the most popular recurring themes throughout literature, ranging from Zeus' escape from being devoured by his father, Cronus, Luke Skywalker's quest to defy the same destiny as his father, Darth Vader, Oedipus unintentionally fulfilled prophecy of killing his father and marrying his mother, and numerous others. Harry has atonement with his father when he finally confronts Voldemort. I know what you must be thinking, 'Voldemort isn't Harry's father,' but as stated by the rule, "in this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life." Voldemort holds the key to Harry's life, in that he and Harry are bound together. One without the other would mean certain death for both. Everybody who has seen Star Wars knows the ultimate confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader – in which the evil lord reveals he is Luke's father – is the very definition of atonement with the father. So you see, these two unique tales actually involve a common theme in the hero's journey.
Return: Refusal of the Return
There comes a time at the end of every hero's journey in which the hero refuses to return home to the normalcies they once knew. The life they led before becomes foreign to them. Perhaps they've seen too much or experienced too much to be able to go back to the naïve existence they knew before. We see this characteristic in both Harry and Luke. At one point, Harry refuses to return back to Hogwarts in the knowledge that he has caused too much trouble for everybody. He understands that his connection to Voldemort has put everyone he cares about at risk, and he refuses to allow himself to return to the life he once knew. We also see this characteristic in Luke. Luke has every opportunity to return home to Tattooine after Obi-Wan is killed, but Luke refuses. He commits himself to the rebel force and continues fighting. The famous jedi can't imagine returning home to an ordinary life after experiencing all the strife and despair he has seen around the galaxy.
I could honestly go on for days about the Hero's Journey. It's a common theme you'll see in your favorite books, movies, and maybe in the lives of those around you. If you care to explore the concept deeper, read Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces, or for a more simplified version of The Hero's Journey, see this list.
Katheryn Rivas is a freelance education writer and blogger. She loves to dabble in a variety of education topics, although her main interests include online learning and trends. She welcomes your comments at