Monthly Archives: November 2013

Author Spotlight: Chrystal Collier

Chrystal CollierI’m happy to be able to host a writer that I have known and admired for quite a while already: Chrystal Collier. With the release of her new novel Moonless, she is touring the world (virtually of course, who could afford anythign else) and popped in here for a short interview.

Why did you choose a socially challenged heroine?
MOONLESS is written for young adults. As a teenager, I remember that being one of my greatest struggles—figuring out my place in the world and feeling like I just didn’t fit in. Who doesn’t feel that at some point?

What makes the world of your novel different from ours?
Call this an alternate history if you will, but what if there was another race of people hidden just below the surface of society? Now let’s say these people are gifted and unique, but nature is all about balance, so they have an antithesis or predator. Keep in mind they don’t propagate as easily as humanity which makes them a minority, and their discovery in the past has led to wars, racial cleansing, etc. Because of that, they’re very interested in remaining unknown, even while their battle for survival rages in the shadows.

What was the most exciting thing happening when you wrote your novel?
Some people write dozens of novels before they get published. I rewrite the same book again and again and again until I get it right—or at least, that’s how it worked with Moonless. During rewrites we’ve lived in 3 different states, had two kids, worked on and off with producers for a Broadway aimed musical, and I’ve been a composer/writer for an audio/video production company. Do we need to add any more excitement?

Tell us about your writing day schedule.
My days starts with study, then I’m getting kids fed, dressed and into a home school day. After a couple lessons (and while the littles are occupied with assignments), I check in with email, the blogosphere, maybe even some critiquing. Finally, mid to late afternoon my littles get free time and I dive into writing, with regular interruptions, praying for a solid two hours.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I believe we are infinitely powerful beings. We can accomplish anything through hard work and perseverance. My only complaint is the need for a time-stopper. (Which the scientists locked in my Floridian basement are desperately working to complete.)

Thank you for answering our question, Chrystal. We wish you a lot of success for your books.

P.S. I started reading, and it’s really good. Go and check it out right now: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, or Sony

P.S.S. Chrystal is giving away three copies of Moonless. Visit this post for details (You need to scroll a bit).

P.S.S.S. Remember that you can still sign up for our free Advent calendar.

Are We Keepers of Suspense?

Book beginnings and middles give way to endings. If the beginning of your book doesn’t grab the reader, then she or he (usually) won’t read further. If the middles, and ending of your book are not satisfying to a reader, then you’ve lost that reader.  Simple wisdom? Yes, but how many books have you read this year that disappointed you?  I read several books a week and I have read several this year by writers that lost me as a reader. (As an aside here, I know that all readers will never be pleased with any book.) So how do we keep our story so readers stay satisfied?

According to my mental mentor-writer, Phyllis A. Whitney, suspense is one important key. That doesn’t mean you must have dozens of dead bodies strewn around in your novel. There must be a problem, there must be conflict, there must be a goal. Your main character must be actively involved in solving the problem(s) and in the conflict. If your character just drifts along, letting things happen to her, soon your reader may be yawning and putting your book down. Action is needed.

The more unexpected, unforseen, and unpredictable the outcome, the stronger the story interest, the stronger the suspense. Urgency–if possible, a time limit–increases suspense.  Make sure your main character’s purpose is opposed in nearly every scene.  What will it cost him if he doesn’t succeed?  If your opposition is only a misunderstanding that could be cleared up at any point, it isn’t strong enough.

(Oh, I wish I had a dollar for every romance I’ve ever read when a “misunderstanding” was the only thing that kept apart the main characters!  I really dislike “misunderstanding” in books.)

Books full of suspense hold onto a reader.  Surprise also helps, but writing about that is for next time.

Books: Digital vs Print – What’s Your Preference?

I write ebooks, but I read voraciously…and always have done. Hence I have bookshelves full of paperbacks I’ll never part with. They’re old friends. How could I part with them? I might want to read them again someday.

But…I write ebooks. Shouldn’t I join the digital age, scrap my print versions, and load up an e-reader?


I will admit to being an early adapter for ebooks. I owned the original Rocket eBook Reader. Compared to today’s models it was huge, heavy, clunky, and required specific formatting, but it was the wave of the future, and I was happy to be along for the ride. I’ve owned several e-readers since that early model, but I’ve never given up my print books. Indeed, I’ve always harbored a preference for print.

Until recently.

My husband and I were discussing this the other night and I suddenly realized that I’d reached my tipping point. I now not only prefer ebooks, I actually avoid print. Wow! What a change!

I have several print books sitting on my bedside table. They’re by authors I enjoy, in series that I’ve searched for, and yet they sit unread. Why? Because I prefer to read on my iPad Mini. It’s lighter than a book, easier to hold, the typeface is adjustable, as is the backlight. I can flip back and forth through multiple books at the touch of a finger, and I don’t have to carry a small suitcase in order to have them all with me.

Yep. I’ve crossed the line. I’m now fully in the digital age.

My husband is still clinging to print, but I see him eyeing my Mini and wonder how long it will be before he finds the tablet / reader that suits his style and finds his own tipping point?

Mind you, I have no intention of tossing all those old-favorite print books, but I’m no longer adding to their number on a weekly basis.

How about you? Are you a digital reader, a print-aholic, or are you straddling the fence trying to find a comfortable seat?

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