Author Interview: Kandi Wyatt

Not so long ago, we had author Kandi Wyatt over for the cover reveal of her new fantasy adventure, An Unexpected Escapade. Now, we have her back to celebrate that same book’s release with an author interview! (PS, it releases today!!!)

Without further ado, here is my conversation with Kandi! (responses have not been edited)

1. Welcome! We’re so glad to have you back again! Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey? When did you start? When did you decide you wanted to publish?

So glad to be here. I’m a wife, mom of five, teacher, author, artist, and photographer’s assistant. To say I’m busy is an understatement. I’m down to only one child at home, and he’s seventeen. The rest are out on their own.

I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I was in high school, but being a mom, I didn’t have a ton of time to sit down and write. I read when I could and had other hobbies, but in 2006, after reading a young adult book by Timothy Zahn, I followed through with the discussion questions at the back of the book, and created a world of squirrel-like creatures and a little girl who was washed ashore. I wrote it for my kids, with the main character being patterned after my daughter. Another three years went by before I picked up another story.

On a family vacation my daughter jokingly said she’d been misnamed. She’s not a morning person, and her name’s Dawnya. I asked if she should be called Duskya instead. Several miles further down the road, we passed Three Mile Canyon Rd. I envisioned a dragon spewing fire down a box canyon. From that humble beginning flowed Dragon’s Future and the Dragon Courage series. Between December and July, I wrote four and a half of the six books. Then the muse went silent. I had said I’d not force the stories, so turned to drawing characters and scenes.

Fast-forward to 2015, my kids were now much older—one out of the house and three in high school. The middle son won a scholarship to a writer’s conference. I attended with him and my youngest daughter. While there, one of the presenters stated that her publishing company was accepting submissions. I immediately thought of Dragon’s Future. Returning home, I debated and debated acting upon the information. Finally, I hit submit without telling a soul. Three weeks later, I had to let people know and make another decision—should I publish it?

Upon careful consideration and discussion with family and other authors, I decided to publish. A year later, I had four books published and was working on the fifth, when the publishing company went out of business. That was another turning point in my career. I had the option of quitting or continuing as an indie or finding another publishing house. My choice seemed clear to me since I wanted control over my books. So, without any disruption in my publishing schedule, I went indie in June, 2016.

2. Is there anything in particular that often inspires you?

When I first started writing, it was my kids and students, but now more of my newer stories have been inspired by my husband. He’s asked “What if?” and posed ideas for a whole knew world. We also work together in creating photographs that tell a story. I’ve used several of those to write stories.

3. Do you have any favorite topics or themes to write about? What about to read?

I write about what interests me, but also what’s important. Many of my themes come from spiritual truths found in the Bible, even though they may be cloaked with fantasy themes or characters.

I love reading sci-fi and fantasy. Historical fiction, if well done, also is a favorite.

4. This new release sounds like a blast! What gave you the idea to write a unicorn-based story?

The bigger question is why did it take me this long to write a unicorn story. I loved unicorns from middle school and through high school, but then my husband introduced me to dragon stories. So, those are what came out first.

This trilogy is based on real-life. The town of Myrtle Beach, Oregon, isn’t based on Myrtle Beach, Virginia. It’s actually a blend of two town names in my area—Myrtle Point and Gold Beach. Several of my students inspired the main characters. While I was writing book 1, I had in mind book 2, but a student came up to me and said, “Señora, you should write a book about girls, horses, and the ocean.” She didn’t realize I already had in mind a story about girls, horses, and a unicorn with her as inspiration for one of the main characters.

Since book 1 had a dragon, I thought a unicorn would blend in well with horses. I wanted each book of the trilogy to have a different mythological creature. Little did I realize that the idea for book 3 would morph to include many beings from myth.

5. Did you have any favorite or least favorite parts to write?

Actually, yes. Book 2 took over a year to write as I tried to process my grief for the student who asked me to write the story. She lost both parents over the course of one year. In some ways she appeared to handle it better than I did! I didn’t know what I should do with the characters in the book—should I have them go through the same thing she did in real life, or should I change things? In the end, after a year of trying to write, I was able to sit down and keep some of the same things as the real-life person and adapting them to fit the story.

I loved how the character Will came about though. His character grew from book 1 to book 2 based on my own understanding of the student who inspired him. The quiet, steady personality of Will was what I saw in my student. I’m glad he became Ana’s friend and confidante.

6. Any hints about upcoming projects?

I don’t know about you, but this picture definitely makes me curious! Photo Credit: Eric Wyatt

Oh, wow! There are several, and if characters don’t be quiet the stories might not come out in the order they’re supposed to. I’m doing edits for book 3 which is to release in September.

Then the goal was to have an Ancient Egypt Biblical retelling trilogy ready for next January. I’m writing book 2 right now, but another story kind of took over this week. I thought it was a short story, but it’s all ready over 6,000 words.

I also plan to return to the world of Dragon Courage with a trilogy based in the Carr, one of the sections of that realm.

The short story very possibly will be a three story novella either published as three separates or joined into one long book. It looks like it’ll be the first in a new world inspired by my husband’s “what if” question.

7. Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with us? Or anything you’d like to share with aspiring authors out there?

The best thing I can say for aspiring authors is to stay true to you, keep writing, and gather a team who has the same vision you do. I love working with my team. They make the journey so much better.

Thank you for reading. Tosca Lee, author of The Line Between, said that there are three people who make a book—the author, God, and the reader. This is so true. The reader brings their own experiences into the reading and the story is all the richer for it. I hope you enjoy Myth Coast Adventures. I can’t wait for readers to see the conclusion.

Thanks so much!

An Unexpected Escapade is out now! You can grab your copy here. And be sure to check out Amazon and Goodreads for more books by Kandi!

About the Author

Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that’s her own five or the hundreds of students she’s been lucky to teach. When Kandi’s not spinning words to create stories, she’s using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

You can find her at her websiteFacebookGoogleTwitterPinterestGoodreads, and Amazon.

Update:

Kandi notified us of an issue with her pre-orders on 16 April 2019. If you pre-ordered, Amazon mistakenly sent out the ARC version of the manuscript, instead of the final. To fix this, please go to your Content and Devices under your Amazon account and click Update Content. She apologizes for the confusion and mixups, but this is a quick fix to make sure you have the correct, final version!

Don’t Trick Your Readers

Today I want to talk about something I don’t think I’ve discussed before. How writers can fulfill the promises they make to readers… and just how they make those promises.

You see, every reader will enter into a story with some kind of expectation, whether it is regarding the genre, the target age, the tone of the writing, or the level of maturity (think gore, sex, and language). They form those opinions based on a number of things, and if we as writers do not fulfill those expectations, the reader is likely to become angry, feel betrayed, and walk away from our writing. Sometimes for good.

But what promises are we making? What promises are readers seeing? Let’s take a closer look.

The Cover

The first and biggest glimpse a reader will get into your story is through the cover. That’s right, readers DO judge books by their covers!

The purpose of a cover is twofold: grab readers’ attention and convey to those readers what they can expect.

First, we want our covers to be eye-catching. We want it to make readers stop scrolling through options and click on that link or that cover to find out more. It’s their first chance to learn about our story.

But the cover’s content will also determine which readers will stop on your book’s page. For example, a reader interested in clean fantasy is unlikely to stop on a book with two half-dressed people kissing on the cover. They will more likely stop on a cover with a castle or a dragon.

You see, the cover you give your book sets the mood for the story and, if it’s doing its job, tells readers about the genre. This is why it’s so important to be aware of what other authors’ book covers in your genre look like, because this is what readers are expecting. If you give them a cover that seems like it might be one thing when the story is really another, you may find yourself the not-so-proud owner of a one-star review. You will have unwittingly tricked the reader.

Your other work

While there are other ways you can make promises to readers, such as how you market the book, I only want to focus on one more today: your other work.

As an author, you may have already heard that your name is your brand. The things you write, the topics and themes you pursue, and the content and maturity level of your writing all influence what a reader will come to expect from your new works. This is why so many authors only publish in one genre… or do they?

Actually, this is one reason pen names exist. Readers will absolutely associate your name with the books you have already written. But if you want to write something completely different, they may expect it to be along the same type of work you’ve already done. Often, the solution is the creation of another pen name to associate with the new works.

Personally, I have one pen name, and that is the only name under which I share my work. But there may come a time in the future that I need to compartmentalize into another name, such as if I move from YA into adult or fantasy into fiction. And that is a possibility I know is open.

One good example of this is Mira Grant. Mira Grant is the pen name for an author who writes zombie fiction, specifically YA zombie fiction (The Newsflesh books). I found out a few years back that she is also the same author who writes one of the urban fantasy series I like, the October Daye series, under the name Seanan McGuire (who also penned some other fantasy reads). Readers have very different expectations from these two distinct names, and for that reason, she compartmentalizes her work into multiple names.

How do we fulfill these promises?

First and foremost, be cognizant of the way you present your work. Don’t misrepresent it, and do your research on how other authors in the same genre are presenting and marketing their work.

Second, make sure you aren’t breaking promises you’ve made through your other work. At a minimum, let your readers know when a book is different from what you’ve previously published. If it’s a minimal difference such as the level of maturity or how clean a read it is, you may not need anything else, particularly if it’s still in the same genre and age category. And if it’s very different, perhaps consider starting a new pen name and letting your current readers know, in case they want to follow along.

Finally, pay attention to your readers. If they are confused or you seem to be getting a lot of negative reviews along the lines of “this wasn’t what I expected,” then you may need to evaluate changing your target audience for the work or rebranding under a new name. Be open to the changes and listen to the advice of others (but of course, use that advice to make your own decisions).

Your Turn

These are the things I’ve come up with about times I’ve felt tricked by a cover or an author, but I know there are so many other examples, such as false advertising (Example: get this free book! Just kidding, it’s just a sample.).

Usually, it’s not intentional. Writers don’t want to trick their readers (except for plot twists!). But we still need to keep the possibility in mind and be sensitive to what our readers are telling us.

And now I want to hear from you. Was there a time you felt tricked by a writer or a book? How did it make you feel? What are your suggestions and other experiences for fulfilling promises to readers? Tell me below!

3 Reasons I Love Urban Fantasy

Werewolves, shapeshifters, vampires, and… cell phones?

Yup, you read it right. Urban fantasy is one of those genres that likes to mix unlikely creatures with our very own world. But what exactly is urban fantasy, and how does it differ from other, similar, types of fantasy?

Urban fantasy: A subgenre of fantasy which takes place during contemporary times, often in cities (hence “urban”), and involves typical elements of fantasy such as magic and fantastical creatures. Urban fantasy is often associated with leather-clad demon hunter ladies, but that is not a requirement. Also I don’t really like the leather-clad demon hunters… give me the coyote shifter mechanic any day (Hello, Mercy Thompson).

Now, you may be wondering about stories that don’t take place in cities but fit the other requirement: a contemporary setting. Technically, these are contemporary fantasy, though they are often still called urban. The difference is the physical setting.

Then there’s magic realism, a fantasy subgenre made famous by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude). It is normally associated with Latin American writing, but other writers can also pull it off. For example, Neil Gaiman does a wonderful job using this subgenre, though I think most people call it something other than magic realism, like contemporary fantasy (The Ocean at the End of the Lane). Magic realism has its own unique feel; it comes across as a dreamy writing style that seamlessly incorporates magical elements into the everyday. It is difficult for the reader to separate the expected from the magical, and the characters see these magical elements as part of their everyday experience.

But I digress.

While I love other fantasy genres, urban fantasy (including contemporary fantasy and magic realism) has become one of my greatest loves. Why, you ask?

  1. It involves our world. I love the idea that magic could be just around the corner from me. That it surrounds us, even if we don’t know it. I love the possibility.
  2. It involves technology. I don’t know about you, but I love my devices. I don’t mind reading about pre-digital devices times, but the concept of magical creatures using a cell phone or computer is something that really gets me… it humanizes them, in some cases, or draws them into greater relatability, giving them more depth. I love the idea of mixing magic and science! Hey, I’m a scientist.
  3. It has great heroes and heroines. Let’s face it. Some genres just naturally pump out characters we love. I find that urban fantasy is one of the best. You get shifter mechanics (who also have history degrees), half-fae detectives looking for their place in the world, vampires warring with their natural desires, and mermaids trying to hide what they are from the swim team. Extraordinary beings thrust into entirely ordinary situations. I love the contradiction. And I really love the characters for that reason.

Those are my top reasons for loving urban fantasy, but what specific series or books do I love most? Here are my top favorites:

This is by no means an exhaustive list, though. I still plan to read some others, like the Dresden Files, and I love a number of other books and series I didn’t mention here. But my list is pretty long. Indie authors especially, like A.L. Knorr above, tend to publish urban fantasy a lot. Unfortunately, the traditionally published urban fantasy is trickier… some agents and publishers think urban fantasy is dead. But I disagree wholeheartedly; the number of books available and published every day in this genre scream otherwise.

So, I will continue to read (and write) urban fantasy. And I will love it without shame.

~~~

What about you? Do you like urban fantasy? Do you prefer other genres or subgenres? Why? Tell me in the comments below!

Six Relationship Tropes I Hate in Fiction

I don’t know about you, but I have very specific tastes when it comes to fictional romantic relationships, particularly the “I never want to see this” kind. These are definitely personal preferences, and if you like one or more of these, I’m certainly not trying to convince you not to or belittle you for something you like. To each their own! But these are the romantic relationships I could do without in my books.

  1. Student-teacher relationships. Example: Pretty Little Liars
    Especially in YA, I really, really despise these kinds of relationships. In fact, let’s extend this out to any kind of relationship with a dangerous balance of power issue. Student-teacher or student-coach or student-parentofafriend or student/employee-boss. Why, you may ask? It’s gross (if it’s a child or teen and an adult), it’s not legal (or ethical), and I really feel like it gives young readers in particular a skewed idea of healthy relationships. It can blur the lines of right and wrong or safe and unsafe. Any kind of relationship where the balance of power is off (one person has more power than the other, like one controls a job or grade) can be incredibly dangerous and unethical, if not illegal, and it is just as dangerous to idealize or romanticize this abuse of power (as many books do).
  2. Love triangles. Examples: The Infernal Devices, Twilight
    I am so over this one. Particularly as a person who never had more than one crush and never more than one person (if that) interested in her, I find these kinds of stories dull, self-indulgent, arrogant on the part of the one caught in the middle, and unrealistic. That whole “Oh no, two boys like me, how will I choose when I like them both!” thing just grates on me. Yeah, maybe some people can relate to the situation, and that’s fine. And I know enough people like them for it to have become a trope in the first place. But if I never see another love triangle again, it will be too soon.
  3. Distant “family”. Examples: Born of Earth by A.L.Knorr, Newsflesh trilogy (to be clear, I LOVE both of these books/series…except for that relationship)
    These are the romantic relationships that also toe the line between legal and illegal, just barely on the side of “this isn’t actually taboo.” For example, a girl falls in love with her adopted cousin or brother. Yeah, they’re not specifically related by blood, but they are still legally related. It just bothers me.
  4. Actual family. Examples: Flowers in the Attic
    Speaking of family, how about actual family? Like, surpassing the normal family relationship to become romantically involved. It’s just another relationship that weirds me out. I don’t like reading about it. I find it unenjoyable and awkward, and that’s not something I’m looking for in my fiction.
  5. Bad boys/girlsExample: The Infernal Devices and so many others
    I will never understand the books that romanticize falling in love with a guy or girl who treats the other person like dirt. Why would you want to be around someone who is mean all the time or acts like they don’t care about you? A real, good relationship is one where both parties feel valued and loved. Anything otherwise is modeling poor relationships. It’s not as dangerous as the power balance issues, but it can still lead to some bad times for actual humans.
  6. Abusive relationshipsExample: 50 Shades of Gray (I didn’t read it, but I know enough)
    Much like some of the above relationships, abusive relationships are difficult. They can model dangerous roles and choices to impressionable people, particularly if the relationship is romanticized. Personally, unless it is incredibly important to the story, I don’t really want to read about it. Especially with something like 50 Shades, where the characters seem ignorant and tolerant of such behaviors and it is never addressed. Abuse is never okay, and a lot of times it is lazy writing. I will be more okay with it if it is addressed or necessary, but it’s a hard balance, and I’ll need convincing.

So these are my most hated romantic relationships in fiction. Again, please remember that if you happen to really enjoy one of these kinds of relationships in your reading, I’m not trying to dissuade or belittle your choices and your enjoyment; I am merely pointing out the relationships I dislike and find particularly worrisome or troublesome.

Now that I’ve shared with you, it’s your turn! What are your least favorite romantic relationship tropes in fiction? Why? Share in the comments!

Author Interview: Kendra E. Ardnek

Another exciting post today, folks! This week, author Kendra E. Ardnek is preparing to release her newest book, The Worth of a King. This is book one in a brand new high fantasy series, and we will be talking directly to Kendra today all about the book and her life as an author. (How gorgeous is this cover?!)

Kendra is also giving away a paperback copy of her book and a 15 mL bottle of peppermint oil (to US readers), and a special prize for whoever leaves the most comments across the blog tour (open internationally). Check out the rest of the tour here.

Here’s a little blurb to get you started:

32739875Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.

Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.

Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.

The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.

You can add it to Goodreads here
or buy it here
or read the first chapter here!

And now, the main event: interview with Kendra E. Ardnek!

Kendra E. ArdnekKendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She’s been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. “Finish your story, Kendra,” is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children’s tales that glorify God and His Word.
Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon 

Q: Tell us a little bit about your writing journey. When did you start writing? When did you decide you wanted to publish?

I’ve been writing ever since I understood that it was the proper thing to do with pencils – as opposed to having my pencils act the stories out. I think I always knew that I would someday have my name on the cover of a book, though I did distract myself with playwriting for the longest time. I just really wanted to be an actress. Still kinda do, but writing has supersceded it.

Q: Where do you find inspiration most often?

In the question “what if.” And also in the challenge to take cliche ideas and make them my own.

Q: What are your favorite themes to write about?

Trust, friendship, love, hope, acceptance, finding your purpose, and the meaning of womanhood.

Q: What inspired your upcoming release, The Worth of a King?

The desire to cowrite a book with Jack Lewis Baillot. See, she’d confessed that she struggled to write female characters, and at the time, I really struggled to write guys. So, we set out to write a book together where I had the female main character, and she the guy. We agreed that we didn’t want our characters to be romantic interests, and so twins were our natural choice, and we also both had a fascination with king stories. Unfortunately, she had to drop out of the project, but across the board, the book’s inspiration was “what is a story that we can write together?”

Q: What was your favorite part of writing the story? Least favorite?

My favorite part would be the delightful cast of characters we created. Least favorite would be the fact that Jack and I never quite found a rhythm when it came to writing it. (Which wasn’t why she dropped out, mind you, but I’m not sure that it wasn’t a factor.)

Q: Are there any hints for upcoming projects after this book releases?

How about this?

Q: What is your best piece of advice for someone who is either new to writing or new to publishing?

NETWORK. Build your platform and make connections with other writers and potential readers. No matter what route you go with for publication, having a ready audience can make or break you. I published my first book with no audience whatsoever, and it’s been nothing but a struggle to claw myself up since then. There is so much less pressure on you before you publish. Build your audience first.

Q: Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share with my readers?

Um … I think I need more coffee…

Concluding Thoughts

Those are some really great answers! I also love the idea of “what if” (it inspired my WIP, Sea of Broken Glass), and I love those themes in stories. Thanks to Kendra for her answers, and lots of luck to her on this release! It sounds like an amazing read, and I hope it finds its audience without any hiccups. 🙂

That about wraps it up! To see other stops on this blog tour, hop on over to the main tour page here. And be sure to come back tomorrow for our regularly scheduled discussion!

Until then, happy writing and happy reading!