Thursday, January 31, 2013

Author Interview: Ryan Hunter

Yay, another interview!

I met Ryan Hunter (who's real name is Robyn Heirtzler) at LDS Storymakers 2011. In fact, she was the first person I met, which meant a lot to me because it was my first writing conference and I felt WAAAAY out of my element. Through a twist of fate, we ended up being critique partners.

Her latest book, inDIVISIBLE, represented another first for me. It is the first book I helped critiqued that got published. Not that I was any help to it, I noticed she didn't take any of my suggestions. *stern look*

Okay, enough about me. Let's get to know Ryan Hunter! You can learn more about her and her writings by following her blog: Ryan Hunter's blog.

JD: First, start off by introducing yourself and your books.

Ryan Hunter: My name’s Ryan Hunter, but I think you already covered that in the intro. I’m the mother of five awesome children; an airman, a genius, a BMX addict, a zombie and an angel. I’m also married to a patient man who finds me time to write and even sends me on the occasional writing retreat when he realizes it’s needed, for his sanity or mine … I haven’t quite figured that one out yet.

I’m an avid runner (it keeps me sane), I love to bake (it keeps me smiling), and of course I write (it fulfills something deep inside of me in a way I can’t explain).

I’m the author of two novels, Premeditated, the idea for which woke me in a panicked sweat; and inDIVISIBLE, another novel born of dreams and impressions that haunted me relentlessly day and night.

JD: What inspired you to get into writing?

RH: I had an idea stuck in my head (not a very good one) that I had to get out. I could find no other way to relieve the pressure than to start typing it out on the dinosaur of a computer that I owned at the time. I finally gained enough courage to “come out of the closet” and admit I was a writer. I sought help from a bestselling brother-in-law and instead of asking me if I was crazy, he actually encouraged me to pursue it. He’s helped me nonstop throughout my adventures in writing. It’s been about 15 years since that first terrible idea and now I actually have good ideas and love to write them and share them!

JD: Are you working on another writing project? If so, care to share?

RH: I’m working on book two of the One United Series (inDIVISIBLE was book one). It’s exciting and daunting and I love every minute of it! I can’t wait to get the new characters engaged in the story and introduce them to my readers. I’m hoping book two will even gain me the forgiveness of some of the my readers who’ve haunted me since finishing book one.

JD: Would you have any advice for new writers?

RH: Never stop. That’s the advice I was given and it’s exactly what I needed. I actually wrote  and published two novels under my given name, Robyn Heirtzler, and considered quitting a few times because of other stresses, but I’m grateful I didn’t. I feel inDIVISIBLE is my most powerful book to date and I’m excited to see where I can go from here. So, keep going. Keep writing and you will only see your work improve.

JD: Why do you write by the penname Ryan Hunter?

RH: I write as Ryan Hunter because the books published under Robyn Heirtzler are religious-based. I wanted to write under a name that wouldn’t be caught up in that genre. I was ready to branch out into a new market and a new name seemed a logical choice. Also, and probably just as importantly, do you know how many people can actually remember, let alone spell my given name? It made finding me or my books nearly impossible.

JD: What book are you reading now?

RH: I’m currently reading The Magic of Thinking Big, an awesome self-help book; and I’m about to start Amusing Ourselves to Death, because of a recommendation; and Delirium because inDIVISIBLE has been compared to Delirium in reviews and I’m curious now to see what it’s all about.

JD: Why have you chosen self-publishing over traditional publishing?

RH: I’ve taken the traditional publishing route before but just felt I’d prefer to maintain more control over this book. I’d also spent a lot of time helping other self-published authors get publicity and the right marketing, so I figured I had enough experience to make it a successful venture. It’s nice to have control over your own book.

JD: What advice do you have for people looking to self-publish?

RH: Start marketing before you begin writing your book. You must have a web presence long before the release date to get the initial publicity that’s necessary to sell many copies. You’ve also got to look and act professional. This includes your editing, formatting, cover design, website, etc. Look second-rate and people will dismiss you and your book without taking it seriously. There are too many self-published books that disappoint. You don’t want to be one of those, so take the time to make your finished work look professional. Also, conduct yourself in a professional manner online, meaning, take yourself seriously as a writer. Promote your work but NEVER spam people, present yourself as an authority, make friends of other writers and compliment others when they’ve written something worth reading.

JD: Tell us about inDIVISBLE.

RH:  inDIVISIBLE is a story of self-discovery, freedom and hope. It follows Brynn Aberdie and T Coleson on a journey to escape an Alliance kill list to not only save their own lives, but to help free the people entrapped in the society of One United.

inDIVISIBLE is a novel about a future with no freedom. The government brainwashes children during school classes, people are monitored by tracking devices and those who excel are punished. Many people have called it a modern-day 1984 that’s actually fun to read.

JD: What inspired you to write this book?

RH: inDIVISIBLE was inspired by a disturbing dream and a series of subsequent impressions that left me feeling as if every thought I had and every word I said were dictated, like I had no freedom to even utter my own opinion. It was vivid and consuming, so I started typing and had the basic plotting for three novels done within a day.

JD: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

RH: I wanted to write inDIVISIBLE without being influenced by the media, current events or other dystopian novels. So, I distanced myself from the news, reviews of other books, talk of politics and anything else possible until I’d finished my first draft. I’m also not a very big political person, so it was hard to write a book that turned out like this without that background, but I also think it makes it more real and engaging. It was never meant to be a political statement anyway.

JD: You've got a unique cover, since that is your daughter. What was it like putting that together?

RH: I loved using Joni as the cover of inDIVISIBLE. I worked on my cover for a quite a while, using other images until I pulled out a folder of Joni’s pictures and that one just hit me. It was perfect. I darkened it, added a few effects and feel that it all came together perfectly. I hadn’t realized while writing the book just how much Joni resembled my main character, but I’m glad for it.

JD: Did you learn anything while writing this book?

RH: I learned to step out of my comfort zone. When I first told my husband about my idea for inDIVISIBLE, he said, “That’s a political book.” I refused to believe him. I told him it was just fiction. He argued the point and I argued back until I couldn’t deny that I had entered the political fiction world. I’ve never been a fan of politics so the idea that I was writing something like that intimidated me and made me really stretch to make it real and engaging. I decided to just let the impressions through and the ideas that inspired it to take over. I’m quite happy with the results.

JD: If they made this a movie, who would you like to see playing Brynn, her Mom, and T? Do you have a director in mind?

RH: I honestly have no idea. Awesome people because the characters deserve that much.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I just passed the two century mark on followers!

I wish I could express how happy I feel. Thank you so much! I'll let the following pictures do the talking for me.

And, on top of that, I just passed 30,000 page views. Yay to nice, round numbers!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Writer Interview: Kami McArthur

As promised from my last post, here is my first author interview! I'm excited for this one because I consider Kami McArthur a close friend. I met her a few years ago when we were in a writing group together and I always looked forward to her well-written and witty submissions. I promise you, keep an eye on Kami, she is certainly going places.

She just started blogging and you can check that out here: Kami McArthur's Blog (Follow her, you can thank me later)

Also, she just did a great guest post on one of David Farland's Daily Kicks on making character strengths into weaknesses, which you can see here: Kami's Daily Kick

JD: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Kami McArthur: I usually feel strange telling people this because it’s cliché and sounds too romantic, but I was in first grade; I’m one of those “always wanted to be a writer” people. I wrote a story about chickens having to go on a long journey to find water. I even edited the plot (go first-grader me). And then I couldn’t stop writing. I have a binder full of stories I wrote as a kid.

Confession: I’ve felt so weird answering this question in the past that I’ve often answered indirectly. I’d say, “I didn’t start taking writing seriously until college.” It’s true. But I also wrote all growing up. College is just when I really devoted myself to the craft.
Kami McArthur

JD: What do you enjoy most about writing?

KM: That moment when everything in your story—setting, character, plot, theme, style, everything—works together just the way you intended. It’s like you finally got the cosmos aligned, and in a way, you have, because this is your own world you’ve created. We get to be little gods. And all the sweat, blood, and tears are worth those moments of perfection, when you fully control language to create something that didn’t exist before.

JD: Conversely, what do you enjoy the least about writing?

KM: It changes from time to time. But at this time, I’ll say coming up with a title. Sometimes titles just pop out for me, other times…they don’t. I still don’t have a title for the piece I’m working on right now, and the story has been blossoming in my head for years. A great title catches attention, sounds good, implies something about the story or implies the genre, and works on multiple levels. Titles set up readers’ expectations and add emphasis to certain aspects of your story.

That’s a lot to manage in a few words.

If anyone has any advice on coming up with titles, let me know.

JD: Who are your favorite authors? What is it about them that really makes you enjoy their writing?

KM: Hands down, J.K. Rowling is my favorite author. I love how she is so detailed, and how she makes so many parts of her story connect and work on different levels. I’ve read Harry Potter more times than I can remember, and each time I catch something new.

Although I wanted to write stories before I read Rowling, her work has definitely influenced my plotting and character creation.
Kami Rubbing Shoulders with J.K. Rowling

JD: Are you willing to share anything about your current writing project?

KM: I’m working on a young adult fantasy that plays with the whole angel and demon concept, but in a way I haven’t seen before. It doesn’t really have the religious aspects traditionally attached to angel and demon stories.

The set-up is that an angel has to go into hiding among humans after the demons invade his country. But angels in this story are naturally attached to humans—they feel a great need, impulse really, to help and serve them, even to the point of putting themselves at risk. So the protagonist has to deal with his tendencies towards humans while at the same, trying to keep his identity hidden from them and the demons who want to wipe out his species.

I’m still on the first draft, but hoping to finish it soon. I’ve published short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, but this would be my first novel. I hope to publish it traditionally. Wish me luck!

JD: What genre of books do you enjoy reading? What are you currently reading?

KM: I’m open to just about anything well-crafted. With that said, I have a soft spot for good YA fantasies. Science fiction and dystopians novels are fun too. Right now I’m reading Les Miserables, having fallen in love with the recent film adaptation to the point that I began secretly considering naming one of my future children Valjean. But to save the poor kid, I’d probably give it as a middle name. Time will tell. I recently finished Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. I loved it! Marion nailed that story.

JD: Are you a plotter or a pantster, and why?

KM: I’m definitely a plotter, but if I get better ideas along the way, I don’t have a problem deviating from my outline. I produce better stories as a plotter. I like knowing where I’m trying to take my characters, and it makes it easier for me to control my story.

Does anybody have any questions for Kami? Leave a comment and maybe she will be nice enough to stop by and answer it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Writer Interviews

One thing I've always wanted to do with this blog is writer interviews. Since I'm still on the journey to become published, I'd love to interview those who are also on that adventure or have already traveled the path to publication. I'd love to learn from their experiences and share it with my followers.

As luck would have it, two friends have volunteered to be my guinea pig in this arena. One of them has self-published two books and one is working on her first book. I've kicked over some questions and can't wait to see their responses!

How about you guys? What kinds of questions would you like to see me asked of those who are published and those who are not?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2012 First Annual Duckett Reader Choice Awards

(Sorry, this post was supposed to go live on New Years. So, let's all pretend like it did, okay?)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I hope you find the success you are looking for in 2013!

About a month ago I was challenged to read 100 books in a year. My first thought was, "Wow, I'm a slow reader, I could never do that." I got curious as to how many I have read so I wrote them all down. The count? 77! Including the 14 existing books from The Wheel of Time series, which are all huge books. Without shooting for a number, I'm pretty happy with that.
Me. Reading.
I decided to share my favorite books/series of the year, thus commences the 2012 First Annual Duckett Reader Choice Awards. It's completely unscientific, totally based on my bias, in no particular order, and not necessarily published in 2012--I just read them in 2012. But if you're looking for a good read, I suggest the following:




by Stephen King

Thank you, to the ten of you, for writing amazing works and for entertaining and educating me. I'm looking forward to the books I can read in 2013!