Author Spotlight: Elizabeth Eulberg

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Source: Facebook

If you’ve never had the chance to meet Elizabeth Eulberg you are certainly missing out. Besides being one of the sweetest authors I’ve ever met, she’s also very talented and very cool. Not only can she write amazing books, such as The Lonely Hearts Club and Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality, she also knows how to play multiple instruments and is an exquisite traveler. Check out my interview with her below.

What first inspired you to start writing?

“I always enjoyed telling myself stories as a kid and thought it would be fun to write a book, but I was too intimidated to start. Then Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants) encouraged me to write. It was the boost I needed to start. I’m so thankful for him!”

What was the first book you ever wrote and what was it about?

“My very first book was The Lonely Hearts Club, which is about a girl who has decided to give up dating guys in high school because they aren’t worth the trouble. What started as something for her to get through heartbreak ends up taking over the school and craziness ensues!”

When will the sequel to The Lonely Hearts Club be released?

We Can Work It Out is coming out early next year! There are going to be three e-short stories about Penny Lane and the Lonely Hears Club that will be online for FREE this fall [as well]. I can’t say much about them, but the first [one] is coming out Oct. 1 and will be Halloween themed. The others will be out Nov. 1 and Dec. 1. Hopefully I’ll get to share more soon!”

Besides the TLHC sequel, are you working on any other projects right now?

“I’m working on a couple different projects. Unfortunately I can’t say anything about them yet but I’m excited about them both!”

What was the best place you ever visited and where do you still want to go?

“Australia is one of my favorite places – it’s a gorgeous country with wonderful people. I got to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef and hold a Koala – what more could you want! I really want to explore South America more – especially Brazil and Chile.”

Who is your favorite music artist?

“I’m a huge fan of CHVRCHES, Ingrid Michaelson, Tegan and Sara, Panama Wedding, Bastille, Ed Sheeran, and of course, The Beatles!”

What instruments do you play and what kind of music do you like to play?

“I play mostly the guitar and piano (although I can play the clarinet and drums, but it’s been awhile for both). I generally play rock music on the guitar (The Beatles, Oasis, OK Go, Snow Patrol, etc.), but play classical on the piano (Mozart and Beethoven are favorites).”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“What is this ‘free time’ you’re referring to? I’ve actually been working on one of my secret projects for nearly three years now in any spare time I have in between edits, but at night I go to concerts, read, or go to karaoke and pretend that I’m a rock star!

Who are some of your favorite writers and what are some of your favorite books to read?

“So many! I’m fortunate that I get to be friends with a lot of the writers I admire. Some recent favorites are Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith, Only Everything by Kieran Scott, and I’ll read anything by Ally Carter and E. Lockhart.

How do you come up with ideas for your novels?

“My ideas come from a lot of different places. The seed for Better Off Friends was planted by my editor, so that was the first book where the original idea didn’t come from me. Take a Bow was inspired by my love of music and my desire as a teen to go to a performing arts high school. The Lonely Hearts Club came from a friend who always dumps her friends when she gets a boyfriend. After I get the original idea, I start building the character and plot from there.”

Do you think you’ll ever write adult novels?

“There may be a possibility that one of my projects that I’m working on is not YA. That’s all I can say.”

What’s your writing process like?

“Everything starts with one idea. Then I work on building on the characters and the arc of the story from there. I spend a lot of time on the characters before I sit down to write. I use index cards to do a basic outline of the plot and I also have a notebook for every book that includes character profiles and chapter outlines. I usually have everything figured out before I sit down to write a single word. I’m a very fast first drafter (I believe in just getting to the end) and then I revise several times on my own before a single person reads it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write for yourself, first and foremost. Don’t worry about if anybody will like it or if it will sell. Write the story you want to read. And no matter what, do not give up!

Is there anything else you would like to add or say to fans?

Yes, a BIG THANK YOU! I get to have the best job in the world, which wouldn’t be possible without readers. XOXO

To learn more about Elizabeth Eulberg and her writing check out her website and Facebook page.

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Author Spotlight: Eniola Prentice

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Introducing Eniola Prentice a new writer on the scene. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria where she began to pen her stories as early as nine years old, inspired by an eclectic group of writers. Still is her debut novel and the first in a series of book. It was in her third year of medical school that she was inspired by God and the unique and inspiring stories of friends that later became her family, to start writing this novel. Check out her author interview below and make sure to purchase Still on Amazon or on iBooks.

Eniola Prentice: Inspired by God and Medicine

Q: What is your story?

Eniola Prentice: Lol. I really do love that question because everybody has a story. How long do you have?   I am someone who has beat incredible odds to get to where I am today by the grace of God. Getting and staying in medical school was [a] struggle, publishing this novel was a struggle but I did it by the grace of God.  I have many definitions, doctor, Nigerian, female etc. but I don’t think those categories adequately tell my story. The recurring theme of my life story is never giving up and God dragging me to the finish line with the helm of his garment. I hope my life one day inspires others to chase their dreams in education, music writing, in whatever with an unparalleled tenacity. With God [and] with you, there really is nothing that is impossible.

Q: What is Still (and the Still series) about?

EP: At its core, Still is about God’s love for four flawed characters. It includes a fifth character of medical school which is an essential component of my plot. The novel is about their intertwining relationships between each other and their friends against the backdrop of medical school. The main character, Sola starts medical school with the hope that it’s a new beginning for her but as life never turns out how we plan she meets an unlikely character, Tayo who she had encountered in a past life. She also develops and ignores feelings for Ladi, another classmate while she is trying to convince Nikky, another classmate that she should steer clear of Tayo. Yes, she does have her hands full.

Q: Is Still based on personal experiences?

EP: Yes, it is a tongue in cheek memorial of my experience in medical school. When I graduated I realized just how self-absorbed we were. Our whole lives revolved around being in medical school, the gossip, [and] what we wanted to do in the future. We were aware that we were going through an exciting process and enjoyed every minute of it. Yes it was hard work but it was also fun.

Q: Tell me about your journey as a writer

EP: My journey as a writer actually started when I was younger. I wrote my first official novel or novella when I was twelve years [old]. It was called Dark Shadows. Before that, I would use stories from the Sweet Valley High series and Babysitters Club as ‘inspiration’ for my novels. I put inspiration in quotes because my sister always accused me of copying the stories and I would get upset. It led to a lot of sibling squabbling. Anyway these novels inspired me and tickled my imagination. I never took writing seriously as a medium for reaching people until a light bulb went off in my head in medical school and I began writing again. I realized the imagination I had should not be dismissed as childish but that it was a gift from God.

Q: Why was writing this book so important to you?

EP: It was important because I believe God placed it in my heart to write it. I felt He has a plan and purpose for the series so I am going to obey him to the best of my abilities.

Q: Tell us a little about your life now?

EP: My life now is in transition. I just published my novel and now I am starting medical residency in Virginia so I also have to move to a new city. I am excited about all the changes in my life and I am looking forward to starting a new chapter of life.

Check out the synopsis for Still below and buy it today.

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A broken soul,

an alcoholic,

a certifiable genius,

a Christian man

and a secret that will destroy the bonds of their friendship.

When self-proclaimed atheist Fadesola, gets into medical school she believes that it’s a fresh start of sorts for her. Until she discovers her class mate is charming and handsome Tayo Smith, a man she encountered in a violent moment years ago. This revelation shatters Fadesola’s already fragile emotional state but hope comes where she least expects it. A seemingly innocent friendship with Tayo’s friend, Ladi, slowly develops into a smoldering relationship with both afraid to acknowledge their mutual feelings. Things get even more complicated when Nikky, Fadesola’s classmate and friend, ignores her desperate warnings and decides that Tayo is the man she is meant to be with. However, within the complexities of this friendship these flawed individuals will experience God’s redemptive grace in a setting each believed his love would never find them. Still, the first book of a four part series is a coming of age story about navigating through medical school in the first year, complete with hilarious hook ups and breaks ups, legendary parties and incessant studying, and experiencing the triumph of success and disappointment of failure.

Also to celebrate the release of her novel, Eniola is hosting a raffle. You can win a signed copy of the novel, a mystery gift, and a $40 Amazon Gift Card. Click here to enter.

Maria V. Snyder: From Meteorologist to Novelist

If you told Maria V. Snyder 20 years ago, that she would be a New York Times best-selling author, she probably wouldn’t have believed you. Snyder’s dream was never to become an author but instead to be a storm chaser. It wasn’t until she got her degree in meteorology and became an environmental meteorologist that she began writing. It was then that she realized she loved writing more than studying meteorology and went back to school to get her Masters of Arts degree in fiction writing from Seton Hill University, where she now teaches.

I recently had the opportunity to get to know Snyder, learning more about the start of her career, love for writing, hobbies, and what she’s got planned next.

Zakiya N. Jamal (ZJ): How did you first get interested in writing?

Maria V. Snyder (MS): Boredom! I was working as an environmental meteorologist for a consulting firm and I was either crazy busy or bored. During the slow times, I jotted down story ideas and possible plots.

ZJ: When did you write your first novel?

MS: I started my first novel in 1996. I wrote about a chapter a month and submitted the pages to my critique group for feedback then made revisions. It was a slow process, but I finished the novel in 2001.

ZJ: What was the transition from being a meteorologist to novelist like?

MS: It was a slow transition. When my son was born, I went from working full time to part time, then, when my daughter was born two years later, I quit working as a meteorologist. Writing at that time was more a hobby – something to do that was creative and fun. When I finished Poison Study [my first novel], I thought the book was pretty good so I submitted it to agents and publishers. After 57 rejections, I received an acceptance! [In total] the transition spanned eight years and instead of going back to work, I kept writing.

ZJ: Where do you get the concepts for your novels?

MS: Everywhere! I get story ideas from books, magazine articles, TV shows, movies, the theater, from something my kids say, from my travels, or from the people I meet. Life is [a] fodder for my stories.

ZJ: Almost all of your series are trilogies except the Outside In/Inside Out pair. Is there a reason why you write your series in the form of trilogies? Can readers expect a third Outside In novel?

MS: I don’t really consider my books trilogies. What happens is, after I write three books about the same characters, I’ve had enough. I want to move on to new characters and new worlds with a whole new set of problems. In my opinion, trilogies are just one huge story broken into three parts. As for another Insider book, there are no plans for a third book at this time.

ZJ: Are you working on any new projects currently?

MS: I’m working on a new set of Study books with Yelena and Valek. There has been enough time from the original three books for me to be excited about the characters again and I [came up with] a new idea. The first of them is tentatively scheduled for January 2015 release.

ZJ: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

MS: Lots! I have a number of writing advice articles on my website that they can read but my biggest piece of advice is always persistence! I’d been writing for 10 years and submitting for eight before I sold anything. [You should] learn the craft of writing as well as the business of writing and attend writer’s conferences and classes if you can; consider that time an apprenticeship. Get feedback on your stories from fellow writers before submitting. Joining a critique group is very helpful. I also find that if I let a story sit on my desk for a few weeks I can pick out all the problems, typos, and inconsistencies easier. I agree whole heartily with Stephen King’s advice: ‘If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.’ And don’t give up!

ZJ: The worlds of the Study and Glass series and the Healers series seem to be similar. Is there a connection between the two worlds at all or is that just a coincidence?

MS: There isn’t a connection; they are two separate worlds. However, I will admit there are many similarities between them. In both worlds there is magic and a lack of technology – no electricity or modern machines. I just think it’s more fun and challenging to have characters [that] ride horses, fight with swords, and don’t have instant communication. Many fantasies are set in medieval times, but with my worlds I didn’t want to be restricted to what words I could or couldn’t use and those times were not the best for women and my ladies are strong, smart, and independent.

ZJ: What is your writing process like? Do you start writing as soon as you come up with an idea or do you do a lot of research first?

MS: I don’t do that much research before writing. I’m a “seat-of-the-pants” writer; I discover the story’s events as I write so I never know what I’m going to need as far as research is concerned. As I’m writing, I’ll encounter things I need to research so I’ll make a list as I go and just put a comment in my story and move on. However, that doesn’t work for things that propel the story and are integral to the plot. For example, in my Glass books, the main character, Opal, is a glass artist and I needed to take a number of glass blowing classes while working on those stories.

ZJ: What do you do when you’re not writing?

MS: I enjoy playing volleyball and I love to ski. I also dabble with photography and make jewelry plus I read and love to travel.

ZJ: Who are some of your favorite authors?

MS: This is always a hard question to answer and I’m glad you [only] asked for ‘some’. Some are Rachel Caine, Illona Andrews, Mindy Klasky, Jeri Smith-Ready, Kate Elliott, Gail Carriger, Harlan Coben, Sebastian Junger, and Dick Francis.

ZJ: If you didn’t choose to be an author what do you think you would be doing?

MS: Before I started writing seriously, I always thought it would be fun to work in a bookstore or be a librarian. Now if I had to change careers, I would become a criminal psychologist – I find the criminal mind fascinating!

ZJ: What has been your greatest accomplishment/experience as an author?

MS: This one is easy to answer. A teen girl who was contemplating suicide was inspired by the actions and courage of Yelena (my protagonist from the Study books) that she decided to keep living. That is without a doubt my greatest accomplishment as a writer – better than any award or being on a bestseller list.

Snyder would like to thank her fans for their loyalty and support and for inspiring her to be a better writer. She hopes that you continue to support her as she continues with her writing. If you’re interesting in learning more about Snyder’s works you can read the first chapter of all her books on her website and read a few of her short stories there, as well.

Kieran Scott: Three Authors, One Writer

Kieran Scott, Kate Brian, and Emma Harrison. Combine these three amazing writers and you get one amazing woman: Kieran Scott. Writing two New York Times best selling series along with over 50 books Scott has taken over the young adult literary scene.

As Scott churns out about two books per year and always seems to be working on her next project, it’s amazing that she does anything but write all day. But she does. Scott is more than just an extraordinary writer; she’s also a regular, every day person just like the rest of us. Scott took me through the history behind her names, what she does when she’s not writing, what she’s got planned next, and how we can somehow become her someday (maybe).

The Secret Behind the Names

Many young readers have heard of “Kate Brian” but not everyone knows that Brian and Scott are the same person. Many have tried to figure out what prompts the change in names when it comes to Scott’s writing but the truth is probably less complicated than you think.

Scott, who began as an editor, had a friend who worked for Alloy Entertainment (best known for their work on Pretty Littler Liars and The Vampire Diaries). The company had a book in the works, The Princess and the Pauper, which had been assigned to a different writer at the time.

“The author wanted to have two different names and she wanted to keep her name for her adult books,” said Scott. “[The publishers] came up with this fake name, ‘Kate Brian’, for this work. The work came in very late [however] and it was badly written. My friend called me and asked me if I would be willing to rewrite it for them but I had to rewrite it under this name because they already printed the commercial material.”

Thus began Scott’s transition into ‘Kate Brian’. “Then the publisher wanted more books by ‘Kate Brian’ and that was me,” said Scott. Scott now uses “Kate Brian” for all her Hyperion published books and Kieran Scott for all her books published by Simon & Schuster.

Besides Brian there is one other pen name that you can find Scott’s books under that many people don’t know about. “Emma Harrison was a name I came up with to write TV tie-ins and things that weren’t my original ideas,” said Scott. “I wrote things like Charmed, Everwood, Alias, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen books and Disney books under that name, and then a few paperback romances.”

Different from her pen name “Kate Brian” Scott came up with this one all on her own. “Emma Thompson is my favorite actress and Harrison Ford is my favorite actor,” she said. “I’m not sure whether I’ll ever use it again unless someone comes to me with a great job that I can’t refuse.”

“It seemed like an impossible thing to achieve.”

Though it may seem crazy to us now, Scott didn’t always think she would be an author. “I never really considered that I could be a novel writer when I was growing up,” said Scott. “It seemed like that type of thing that a lot of people aspire to but only a few achieve, like being an actor or president or something.”

Although Scott grew up in a household where reading and writing was the norm Scott still feared that being a novelist wouldn’t happen for her. Therefore she set her sights on a different goal.

“I set out to be a journalist,” said Scott. “I was an English and journalism major and I didn’t really like it that much. I just never had the self-confidence to go up to someone and ask for an interview. That was always really hard for me.”

As Scott, got closer to graduation and realized journalism was not for her she began to wonder what she would do. That’s when she saw an ad for a job that was perfect for her.

“I answered an ad for an editorial position at this book company,” said Scott. “It was really the first time that I considered that people edited books. It’s not just the author; there are editors also. And that’s sort of how I got into it. And I thought if I could make a living by reading, how great would that be?”

Through her experience working as an editor Scott began to learn how making a book worked and started writing her own fiction again. “After a few years of working for hire I broke out on my own to see if I could make a living out of it and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

She’s Just Like Us

Many people know Scott as “Kieran Scott” and “Kate Brian”, the writers but what many of her fans don’t know is who is Kieran Scott, the person? Besides being an amazing author, Scott’s biggest role is being a wife and mom. Scott has two sons, ages six and three, who keep her busy and when she’s not doing that (or rather during that) Scott is just like anyone of us.

“I spend a lot of the time at the gym,” said Scott. “I also like to bake. If I have a free Saturday or Sunday afternoon I’m always baking cookies or cake or something and then going to the gym to work them off.”

Outside of the gym, Scott is also an avid reader and TV watcher, though she may not be watching what you’re into. “I love to read and I’m a huge TV addict although whenever someone says to me, ‘Do you watch Game of Thrones?’ I say, ‘No’ or ‘Do you watch Breaking Bad?’ and I say, ‘No.’ then there seems like there’s twenty TV shows that I don’t watch but I feel like I watch so much TV.”

When it comes to Scott’s reading habits she can’t help but stray back to her own genre of fiction. “I end up reading a lot of teen fiction because I do all these panels and I hear all these people talk about their books and I really want to read them because they all sound amazing so that’s kind of an occupational hazard.”

Some of her recent reads include The Darkest Minds series, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, and various thrillers to help her try her hand at writing a thriller novel. “I like when a book surprises me even when it’s not a book that’s supposed to surprise you.” Just like us.

What’s Next?

So far this year, there are already two books by Scott scheduled for release: Endless, the last book in the Shadowlands trilogy and Only Everything, the first book in her newest trilogy that ties in some mythology into a romantic series.

Though the added mythological aspect to the book definitely makes the books sound even more interesting, this wasn’t part of Scott’s original plan. “I actually really wanted to write a straight forward romance series,” said Scott. “I pitched it to my editor and agent and they liked the character but they felt like the series needed a hook and I was really annoyed honestly, because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. But then I started to think about it and thought if I want it to be really romantic, what went along with romance? And it just hit me one night: cupid.”

From there Scott started thinking about Roman mythology and how it could be incorporated into her newest novel. Going back to sixth grade, when she was last obsessed with the topic, Scott decided to do some research and came up with an even better idea for her newest novel that also incorporated her love for a fish out of water story.

Now, Only Everything focuses on a teenaged female Cupid who is banished to Earth and must match three couples in order to save the love of her life from the wrath of the Gods. And she has to do all of this powerless.

“I just imagined what it would be like for a goddess who is so used to getting what she wants and being able to do whatever she wants, and counting on these powers to be thrust into Earth without these powers,” said Scott. “And really she has a complete inability to act as a human and so that was so much fun to write.”

Therefore what started as a disappoint for Scott who feared she wouldn’t be able to write what she wanted to write, it actually became what she referred to as her favorite thing she’s ever written which is evident by the fact that she’s already finished all three books.

This doesn’t mean Scott’s done writing, of course. Currently she’s working on another romance novel and trying her hand at an adult thriller. She never stops.

Some Advice

Now that you know exactly who Kieran Scott is, it’s no surprise that you’re wondering how you can become her. Well here’s her advice for one of the most well known struggles of an aspiring writer: getting stuck.

“Go back and reread what you’ve written and see if there’s something in what you’ve written that made you get stuck,” she advised. “There’s sometimes an answer in what you’ve already written as to why you’re blocked.”

Also, Scott advises to just write, even when you’re not sure what you’re writing about. “If you have a day when you have time to write but you can’t seem to get started just write whatever,” she said. “Write something even if it sucks or you think it’s the dumbest thing ever. I have done that where I start out and I write some really lame dialogue and after a few paragraphs, I get into the groove and I start writing stuff that’s good.”

To learn more about Kieran Scott you can visit her website or follow her on her one of her Tumblrs (here and here). Only Everything is set to release in stores and online in May 2014.