Friday, July 7, 2017

The Story Behind Rebel Song by Amanda J. Clay

One of the questions all writer’s undoubtedly receive is “where do you get your inspiration?” Sometimes there is a great lightbulb moment—a tragedy, a blessing, a unique childhood—that breathes life into an idea. For Rebel Song, I attribute it to a childhood obsession with tragic love stories, with fantasy tales of kings and queens, with gallant heroes sacrificing all.
When I describe the plot of Rebel Song to people, but tell them it’s contemporary, they often say, “Wait, it’s about a princess and a rebellion and star-crossed love? Sounds a little Medieval.” And it does sound like a plot of old. But it’s also a reality of today…Let me explain a bit of history about its inspiration.

The very first incarnation of Rebel Song came about 22 years ago—no joke! When I was 12—possibly suffering some unrequited love of my own—I actually wrote this short book about a princess who falls in love with a spy from another country and she betrays her kingdom for him. In the end she jumps off a cliff and kills herself so in retrospect it wasn’t a very uplifting story (I was a strange 12 year old, I admit). But I never forgot that tale and I’ve maintained this affinity for the star-crossed lovers since.

So fast forward a couple decades. I’m in Madrid, Spain, reading about the turmoil of Spain’s 20th century—from a monarchy to a dictator to back to a monarchy. And I realized that, while it’s strange to the Americans, royalty is alive and well in much of Europe. Additionally, many countries in Europe have undergone rebellions, dictators, civil war and more in the last fifty years alone. Sometimes there’s even a juicy love story thrown in there. I was fascinated by the history there and I suddenly knew I had to bring Rogan and Elyra’s story to life in a fresh new way.

And while the story is set in “modern-day,” I admit, the specific time period for the story is purposefully a little vague because I’m trying to avoid talking about real world events—it’s hard to talk about 20th century Europe and not discuss post WWII Communism, for example. I want the Rogan and Elyra’s story to just exist within itself and for the reader to not have to think about the outside world.

So once you have this great novel that you love more than your own mortal soul, what do you do with it?

After I’d finished and perfected Rebel Song to the best of my ability, I had to learn how to publish it! Writers today are living in the best of times. There are more ways than ever to reach millions of hungry readers. But with more choices, it can be daunting to decide the best way to go. I opted to Independently publish and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. It’s a lot of work—no denying that. As an Indie author, you’re responsible for every aspect of the process—from finding the cover design, getting a professional editor, finding beta readers and then doing the marketing. It was a long process, I stumbled a lot, made some mistakes, learned a TON and was excited to do it all again.
The second installment, Rebel Rising, is due out this September and I’m so excited to continue the saga with my readers.

About the Author

Amanda J. Clay is a writing YA and Adult fiction from Dallas, TX. A Northern California native, she had a fantastic time studying English and Journalism at Chico State University and then a very serious time slaving away for a Master’s degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton. When she’s not staring at a computer screen, she spends most of her spare time on some new fitness addiction and plotting world adventures.

Her latest book is the young adult novel, Rebel Song.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Story Behind Scribble & Author by Miri Leshem-Pelly

What would it be like if I, as an author, could talk with one of my characters? This was the thought that popped up in my head once. I started to think about it and realized an interesting conflict. Authors usually love their characters, right? They care about them and even identify with them in a way. But on the other hand, authors make their characters suffer… Authors know that if they want their story to be interesting and engaging, they need to make their protagonist face some problems and challenges, sometimes even real danger. Therefore it is very likely that characters would have a lot to say to their authors, who are responsible to all of their misery.

That thought sparked the idea for my new picture book for children. I decided to create a story which would be based on a dialogue between the author and his character. I’m also the illustrator, so I had an interesting visual concept to go along with such a story. I decided not to illustrate the author, even though he is a character in this book (I know, it’s a bit confusing…) but instead, to show the author’s tools, such as pencil, eraser etc., as if they are on the page.

The protagonist is a little Scribble, made of a watercolor spot with some pencil lines, and that’s her name – Scribble. Scribble and Author talk, while the author is creating the story. But Scribble doesn’t always like the story. Can she change the plot? Can the author make her do something she doesn’t want? Who really gets to tell the tale? If you ever wrote a fiction story, maybe you know the feeling yourself. You create the character, but once you did, it has a life of its own, and the story is not totally in your control anymore.

So if you’re curious to find out what happens when an author meets and interacts with his character – Scribble & Author is the book for you!

About the Author

Miri Leshem-Pelly is the author-illustrator of 14 children’s books. She’s also illustrated 14 books for other writers. When Miri isn’t writing she can be found speaking at schools, kindergartens and libraries. She is invited to do more than 200 presentations with her books per year. Miri is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers & illustrators).
Miri is represented by Olswanger Literary Agency.
Miri’s works have won awards and her illustrations have been shown on several exhibitions.
Miri lives in Israel with her husband and two children, and loves reading books and going on nature hikes.
Her latest book is Scribble & Author.