The Next Big Thing

In the last two weeks or so I’ve been tagged by two authors – Julie and Kathils – to participate in the new blog hop sensation: The Next Big Thing!  The purpose:  discuss my current Work in Progress.  Seeing as I was tagged by not one, but two authors, I figured I should indulge all of you with some little tidbits about my  novel.

What is the working title of your book? In the Shadow of the Dragon King.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  The idea has been swirling in my head since I was young.  I’m an army brat with a love for fantasy – the kind of fantasy that involves knights and dragons and sorcerers.  My Army dad was always a hero to me, as are our servicemen and women.  One Saturday morning while sitting in an IHOP, nine servicemen dressed in uniform, came in and took a table by the window.  Watching them, listening to them, the idea for my novel began to play out in my head and it wouldn’t stop.  I’ve been working on the trilogy ever since.

What genre does your book fall under?  a cross between urban and high fantasy.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Kidnapped for his own safety, a seventeen-year old boy is thrust into a magical world hovering on the brink of war, and forced into finding a hidden ally before his arc enemies – a sorcerer and a dragon – can kill him.   (Still working on it but it’s what I have for now.)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Wow, my list is long (yes, I’ve thought about this a lot :-))  Are you ready?  Nicholas Haut, Vanessa Hudgins, Megan Fox, Cameron Bright, Jeremy Sumpter, Craig Parker, Roselyn Sanchez, David Wenham and Paul Rudd to name a few. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  I would love to have my book repped by an agency, but I’ll probably end up going with a small press.  There are several out there I’m looking at who have a great reputation and same publishing model I’m looking for.  All options are open at this time.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Years.  I worked on it part-time to begin with only to realize I needed to do some research into medieval weapons, castles, locations, etc.  This put the actual writing on hold for a while.  Then I started writing again but I didn’t like the way it started, so I ditched it and started over.  I was also working full-time and trying to raise four kids, so time was limited.  Then I was laid off in 2010 from my job and, unable to find a job, dove into my manuscript with vigor.  I completed it in 2011, sent it off to a publisher who liked it but needed changes.  I’ve been working on those changes ever since, along with the other two novels in the trilogy.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’ve been told my story has elements of Tolkien, Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Cassandra Clare and Anne McCaffrey mixed with my own flare, but as far as actual books?  I don’t think it’s been compared to any books.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? There are mysterious tattoos, fight scenes to appeal to the YA male reader, a hint of love interest for the gals, a bit of sarcastic wit for the adults and some bad a$$ characters to love and hate.  There’s a good dragon as well as a very, very bad one, a couple of kick-butt fae, and an army of shape-shifting teens any kid would want on his/her side in an epic battle.  It’s a story of love, sacrifice and believing in one’s self.

And now, for my nominations, in no particular order:

Amy M. Newman

Kourtney Heintz

Tristan Berry

Jamie Ayres

Carrie Ruben


And anyone else who wants to play along.

Meet Julie Reece, YA author of Crux

Today, one of the best YA books of the year, Crux, releases to the world.  I’ve had the opportunity to read this novel and it is fantastic!  A must read.  No wonder I’m floating on cloud 9 since author, Julie Reece, agreed to do a blog takeover.  So, without further ado, please welcome the lovely and talented Julie as she talks about what inspired her to write Crux. Take it Julie!

What is a heart story?

Ugh.  At first blush, this sounds cheesy, doesn’t it?  Well, bear with me a second. I read somewhere, sorry I don’t remember where, (if it’s you, thank you) that most writers’ have one or two ‘heart’ books inside them.

New writers write from inspirations and ideas closest to their hearts. The emotion is usually raw, the descriptions vivid, and the angst, well, it’s often something we’ve experienced or empathized with as someone we knew suffered. We might be living an unattainable dream through our character or creating the person we wish we were. The details are, of course all make believe, but the strength of character and plot comes from deep within each writer.

So what? You write one or two books and it’s over? No, if anything, a writer will probably grow and improve. The point is, if you agree with this hypothesis, that no matter how many books you write, it’s those early works that retain a special place in the author’s heart.

When Jenny invited me to appear on her blog, I was so excited.  Jenny’s a great writer and runs a fantastic blog (so no pressure).  She urged me to share what inspired me to write Crux in the first place, so what the heck, I’ll take a stab at it.

Atlanta, like plenty of other big cities, has a homeless population and that unfortunately includes its share of runaways and prostitution.  My family has spent time working in a soup kitchen downtown, handing out clothing and trying to serve people who’ve had a hard time. Some of those people are teens. I have two teen daughters myself.

So I’m sitting on the asphalt at a downtown shelter, across from a young woman who appears mentally ill. She’s pretty. The girl rambles incoherently, but I hardly hear her, because as she picks at her cornbread and nibbles at her chili, I’m thinking: Who are you? How did you get here? I wonder about her parents, and how her mind became so broken.

Cold seeps from the ground penetrating my jeans and numbing my butt. I’m not saying anything though, this girl might sleep out here and who am I anyway? She lets me brush her hair, and I feel the honor keenly. I hand her a coat that’s been donated, a bag of toiletries and a bottle of water. The day ends, but I’m thinking of her, and hundreds like her.

Quite a while later I had a dream, a blonde, barefoot teen in a nightgown was running through the wet streets of Paris after a man with a suitcase. When she caught up to him, he stopped to open his case and I woke up. I wanted to know what was in that case, dang it, and I wanted it to help the girl on the street.

So I wrote Birdie’s story. From the heart.

Do I think I’m writing an ending for the girl’s life I met at the shelter? I wouldn’t presume. But I can’t deny life’s experiences all mesh together to make us who we are. They do, and who says that’s a bad thing?

Everyone has at least one heart story, whether or not you write it down, and now I’m wondering about you. What in life has affected or inspired you?

Everyone, give a big round of applause to Julie and make sure you head over to your bookstore of choice and pick up your copy of Crux.

Thank all of you for stopping by and please feel free to leave your messages for Julie.  She’ll be around for the next day or so to answer whatever questions you may have.  In addition, if you would like to win a signed Crux bookmark, please be the first person to answer the following question:

 In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, which stone did Bilbo give to the Elvenking to aid him in his negotiations ?

You can leave your answer in the comments below.  Thanks for playing and good luck!

Julie’s Bio:

Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

I live in the metro Atlanta area with my incredibly supportive husband and daughter, and our twenty-two pound cat, Hurley.

Where can you find Julie:!/JulieAReece!/julie.reece.351

Major Publishing House files bankruptcy

It’s a sign of the times.   Major, large corporations that have been around for years are folding.  It’s no surprise that publishing houses are part of that group.  After all, tangible book sales are down, replaced by an upswing in e-book purchases.  While this is disconcerting and heartbreaking for this author (I love real books and think it’s almost sacrilegious  to eradicate them all together), I understand the big 6 can’t survive unless they put their finger on the pulse of the consumer.  They really need to re-evaluate their approach to publishing.

The first big house to file is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., the publisher of authors from Mark Twain to J.R.R. Tolkien.  They filed bankruptcy to eliminate more than $3 billion in debt.  The company filed Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, along with more than 20 affiliates.

According to an article in the Lake Tahoe News, “The global financial crisis over the past several years has negatively affected” Houghton Mifflin’s financial performance, in a business that “depends largely on state and local funding” for the schoolbook market, said William Bayers, company general counsel, in court papers.

He cited “recession-driven decreases” and “purchase deferrals” by the states and a “lack of anticipated federal stimulus support” for “substantial revenue decline.”

From someone who believes in traditional publishing with all of her heart, this doesn’t surprise me that such a large company would fall in the face of the current economy and its lack of forethought into future publishing.  I only hope the rest of the traditional publishers take notice and do something to stop their companies from the same fate.

It sickens me, literally sickens me,  to think there may be no more tangible books in the future.  It should be an option to all authors and readers.  Books last forever.  Kindles will only last until the next big piece of technology replaces it.  Books can be passed on, handed down from generation to generation.  E-books have to be paid for, you can’t pass them on, they can’t be shared and you’ll never find them at a flea market, garage sale or signed by the author.  But that’s a whole different post isn’t it?

The big houses need to wake up and quit thinking they are too big to be touched by this economy.  Start looking to the consumer instead of the government to find their way out of debt.  Many publishers are already putting their textbooks in e-book format and school systems are handing out Kindles to their students at the beginning of the school year with the textbooks loaded.  This opens a lot of issues that worry me economically (on more of a local state and county tax level), but the concept is a good one.

What are your thoughts on the frailty of the big six and do you think the traditional book can survive?  Do you want it to survive?  As a writer, are you more inclined to approach a big house or are you looking more for independent, smaller houses or even self-publishing?

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