Author Q&A with Ashley Bennion of TAKING NIGHT

Taking Night Final book cover.inddHappy Friday everyone! To kick off this first weekend of December we have a special treat for you: a fun interview with indie author Ashley Bennion! Ashley has recently self-pubbed her first Young Adult (YA) novel, a light dystopian called TAKING NIGHT, available on Amazon. So without further ado…

1) Tell us a bit about what Taking Night is about.

To me, Taking Night is about family and relationships set to the backdrop of a dangerous future world where nothing is at it seems. Plot-wise, it follows Shay Andrews who lives in a time where dreaming has stopped, but she starts dreaming again and then has to question everything she’s ever been taught, by the people she trusts most (her parents).

2) Fans of who/what will like this book?

There are plenty of twists and turns so I think anyone who likes a page-turner will like this book! But it skews more towards dystopian YA and a bit of sci-fi.

3) What inspired you to write the book?

So, so many things inspired me to write this book. I’ve been a professional writer for 10-years and always wanted to write a novel but it wasn’t until recently that I felt I had the time (with two kids at home that seems funny to write) and an idea. The idea actually came to me while I was in the chair at the dentist – I’m terrified of the dentist – and wished I could be put to sleep for the cleaning but then how would I really know what had happened?

4) Do you have any writing quirks?

I’m not sure if this is a quirk, but I have to have music on to write (with lyrics) and music on to edit (without lyrics).

5) What made you decide to self-pub and how did you find the process?

I tried the traditional route for a few months and received the same consistent feedback: Good story, has potential, but the genre is flooded and we can’t take a chance on a debut author. I could have stayed at it, I know people who spend years doing that, but that’s not me. I wanted to move forward and I didn’t want to shelve something I’d worked so hard on, so decided to do it myself. The process has been interesting. I’ve learned a lot about myself (I’m impatient and want things to happen like, now) and really bad at formatting!

6) What would you say to writers who are struggling to find agents or traditional publishing contracts?

I would say you have to ask yourself what you want out of this. Is it a publishing contract with a publisher? Then keep at it. The industry is changing and it’s quite subjective so someone out there might buy your book. But if what you want is to get your book out there now, self-publishing is a great, relatively easy way to do that. With much higher royalties! And don’t forget, even with a publishing contract you’re still doing a lot of marketing yourself.

7) What are some of your favourite authors/books and why?

The funny thing is I am a big Canadian Lit fan – Atwood, Findley, Ondaatje are my favourites. I actually don’t read a lot of YA but of course loved The Hunger Games.

8) What was the most difficult part of the whole process and what was something you found unexpectedly easy?

That’s a good question! I had a number of close calls; publishers who liked the book but just not enough to buy it, or agents who really reluctantly turned it down because of the genre. So that part was tough in the beginning, getting so close is almost harder than being turned down outright. And I have to say, something that was unexpectedly easy was the actual writing part – I loved every minute of it.

9) Plans for a sequel?

Yes! Absolutely. I am so totally obsessed with my characters that I’m definitely not ready to say goodbye quite yet. I haven’t decided if this will be a two-part series or three, but I will definitely be done a second book next year. Stay tuned!

Visit to McMurrich Junior Public School

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 8.54.02 AMLast Friday I had the pleasure of visiting the grade six class of McMurrich JPS!

We talked about books, writing and the publishing process, as well as addressed issues of conservationism and animal diversity.

The students were bright, focused and asked some really great questions.

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 8.52.59 AM
Students were also working on descriptive paragraphs and editing each other’s work.

The class is going to vote on the best ones and they’ll be published on my website, so stay tuned!

At the end of the visit, their awesome teachers, Ms. Capitao-Tavares and Ms. Rambaran, raffled off ten books to their lucky students, which I then had the pleasure of signing.

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 8.51.39 AMThanks guys, hope to see you soon and looking forward to those paragraphs!

xo

Alisha

If you would like Alisha to come and speak to your class, please email alishasevigny at gmail.com. Talks can be adapted for grades six and up.

 

 

Kiss a Frog; It’s National Golden Frog Day!

Panamanian-Golden-Frog-Brian-Gratwicke

Panamanian Golden Frog – Photo by Brian-Gratwicke

Today is National Golden Frog Day! The Golden Frog, a cultural and ecological icon of Panama, was the inspiration behind Kissing Frogs. This little guy is among several hundred species of frogs that are currently going extinct. Now no longer found in the wild, the Golden Frog can only be seen in zoos and conservation centres, like the one in El Valle, where the characters of the book volunteer and where I spent several weeks researching and writing the book.

In honour of today I’m posting a few excerpts from the book below. I hope you enjoy and don’t forget about the frogs!

Excerpt 1

“Bienvenidos a Villa Paraíso.” Hector pulls into the property and parks. “Welcome to Paradise Villas.”

We tumble out of the van and behold an Eden-like utopia. Palm trees dot immaculate grounds, swaying gently beside a crystal-blue pool. Exotic birds fly between banana trees and butterflies flit among vibrant flowers. Colorful hammocks swing under a large open-air hut thing that promises shade and cool breezes. Three villas stand out on the lush property, their exterior stonework bringing to mind castles from mythical lands.

Continue reading →

Why Every Girl Needs a Bestie – Asp of Ascension Blog Tour

Asp_NEWProof2Today I’m thrilled to host Bethany Myers, author of the upcoming Asp of Ascension – a fun and fascinating mystery that’s been quoted as “Veronica Mars meets Indiana Jones.” AOA features a strong female friendship, something that – as ladies (and gents) everywhere know – is crucial to a happy and fulfilling life. Here’s what Bethany has to say about gal pals…

As much as I love a good romance, the best friend relationship is just as essential to any good story. In my new YA mystery, Asp of Ascension, the main character has her own love interest, but more importantly she finds a true best friend by the end of the book.

Here are the Top 10 Reasons Why Every Girl Needs a Trusty Sidekick.

1. She’ll Let You Ugly Cry
Broken bone or a broken heart? Doesn’t matter, your bestie is there when you need her with Kleenex and ice cream. She’ll be your rock and (if necessary) help you plan an act of revenge or at least a construct a pretend plan to lighten your spirits.

2. She Won’t Criticize
…Unless of course you need her to voice a strong and colorfully worded negative description of the enemy who has done you wrong. Some friends will tell you to let it go and just forget about it, but a true friend grabs the baseball bat and says, “Where does he live?”

images-13. She Will Always Show Up
A best friend will never stand you up or (and this is the worst) drop your plans to be with a guy.

4. She Understands Your Quirks
It’s so nice to be with someone who gets why you like to dip your French fries in chocolate sauce. And she always lets you have the seat that faces the door to the restaurant because you she knows you need to see who is coming and going.

5. She’s Free Therapy
Even if it’s only to say, “I’m sorry you’re hurting.” Sharing your problems with someone you trust is as therapeutic as any advice you’d get from a professional. Plus, someone who loves and cares for you will always have your best interest at heart.

Unknown6. She Is Your Cheerleader
Your best friend never underestimates the power of getting a little support or encouragement at the time when you need it the most.

7. She’s Your Person
When you need to hide a body or um …a burnt casserole, you know the one person that will always say yes.

8. She Shares Her Stuff With You
Jewelry, make-up, jeans, junk food, dating tips, books … the list goes on. We learn early in life that sharing means caring.

9. You Complement Each Other
She’s outgoing, but you’re more of a wallflower. You can think up a comeback in record time, but she always gets flustered. Best friends are often each other’s strengths and weakness. They hold each other up and step in when the other needs help.

10. She Calls You Out
This is the toughest, but most crucial aspect of the best friend. She loves you so much she’s unwilling to let you make stupid mistakes. Just ask Neville Longbottom, he earned ten points for Gryffindor because he tried to stop Harry and Ron from sneaking out of the common room. As Dumbledore said, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

 

Summer Romance Reading List: Life in the No-Dating Zone

NoDatingZoneAnother book on my summer reading list is Patricia Tighe’s Life in the No-Dating Zone. I feel like LITNDZ will be a fun one because it seems to have lots of delicious drama, great dialogue and is set in Texas, which is like a whole other world for most of us Canucks!

Here’s the official summary:

After surviving her parents’ relationship drama when her older sister elopes, Claire Gardner vows not to date during high school. Now, three years later, Claire is thrust into new relationship drama–her two best friends have boyfriends. Which means Claire is spending more and more time alone. And she’s more than a little peeved.

Enter Gray Langley. His year-long crush on Claire’s friend Lindsey has made him desperate enough to ask Claire for help. Hesitant at first, Claire agrees–anything to get rid of Lindsey’s current evil boyfriend. But as Claire and Gray plot together, an attraction develops, and now she must decide if being with Gray is worth the pain that will come from confronting her parents with the reasons for her vow.

Here’s what peeps are saying:

  • Love YA? Then you will *adore* this book about Claire’s vow to not date in HS, about her “helping out” a friend with a crush on a cute guy, with an Austen “Emma”-like twist. Sweet and fun.
  • The dialogue between the characters had me chuckling or cringing. I loved it. I found it realistic and well done.
  • A good YA book. Romance, awkward and funny moments. A happy read that will make you smile! I recommend it!

All three summer romances will be accompanying me to the cottage tomorrow; I can’t wait to dive in!

11336994_10205932706989207_6906869468018564525_o

 

 

Summer Romance Reading List – Snark and Stage Fright

Oh, I love me some snarky goodness! The next book (or books) on my summer romance reading list is the Snark & Circumstance series by Stephanie Wardrop. This is a series of delightful novellas that culminate in SNARK AND STAGE FRIGHT, “the gripping, heartwarming and funny conclusion to the series” (which I’m currently loving). But don’t let the title fool you, despite all the “snark”, there’s still plenty of sweetness to go around…

22840280Here’s the official summary:

Georgia Barrett learns the hard way that happily ever after isn’t nearly as happy or as close to forever as Jane Austen would have us believe. Georgia’s sharp tongue costs her the only guy she’s ever really cared about: Michael Endicott.

Determined to move on, Georgia lands the lead role in the school’s fall musical. But to survive on stage, she’ll need to express herself without the protective shield of snark. She soon discovers being honest with others means being honest with herself, and the truth is; she’s still in love with Michael.

But from the looks of Michael’s new girlfriend, Georgia isn’t the only one moving on. Apparently, some people are just better at it than others. And when Michael and his girlfriend join the cast of the fall musical, Georgia finds out that snark and stage fright are the least of her worries.

The series is a modern spin on Jane Austen, so JA fans will especially enjoy it.

Here’s what a few folks are saying:

  • Stephanie Wardrop has a conversational, natural writing style that makes her a truly modern voice in YA. She’s a seriously talented writer who had me from the first word of the first page. This book was full of so many amazing lines it’s hard to choose a favourite.
  • I loved this book. I had read all of Wardrop’s previous novellas, and it was just such a pleasure to sit down with 200 uninterrupted pages!
    Wardrop has such an easy writing style that she effortlessly pulls you right into the story.
  • My favorite book in the Snark and Circumstance series, it’s full of witty dialogue, endearing characters, and angsty drama that all build to a perfectly satisfying conclusion.

If your looking for some fun summer reading, start the SNARK series today!

xo

11336994_10205932706989207_6906869468018564525_o

 

Summer Romance Reading List – Don’t Fall by Rachel Schieffelbein

Summer is finally here! And what better way to celebrate then by lounging on the dock, cold bevvy in one hand, book in the other?! Over the next few days I’ll be featuring three books from fellow authors at GMMG on my “TO BE READ” list.

22399053Up first is Don’t Fall by Rachel Schieffelbein. As someone who loves contemporary retellings of fairy-tales, this one immediately caught my interest. Don’t Fall is a modern-day retelling of Rapunzel. Check out the gorgeous cover and summary from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Anya leads a very secluded life in a house on the edge of town with her adopted mother. She doesn’t go to school, but instead has a private tutor. Her over-protective mom keeps her so sheltered that she doesn’t even have a best friend. 

But Anya doesn’t seem to mind. She has her books, her photography, and her daydreams, and would do anything to please her mom. Until one day at the library, the only place she’s allowed to go, she takes a picture of a beautiful boy.

Before long she’s lying to her mom, and sneaking out late at night to meet Zander. But Zander wants more than a secret romance. If Anya wants to be with the boy of her dreams, she will have to risk her relationship with the only other person she’s ever cared about.

Here’s what others are saying on Amazon:

  • “Summer is the perfect time for beach reads, and Don’t Fall fits this category perfectly, I think 🙂 It’s sweet, it’s got a great heart, it’s got cute boys, and great books, and was generally just one of those reads that left me sighing happily as I read. Plus, cupcakes–who doesn’t like cupcakes?”
  • A wonderful story about loving too much, holding too tightly, and protecting far too fiercely…but most of all, this was a story of a young girl discovering that it isn’t selfish to want your own happiness–a lesson I fear far too few teenage girls hear.
  • A really sweet YA tale, featuring an equally sweet girl, Anya. There’s romance and cupcakes and an adorable guy (Zander), so this book is gets two thumbs up from me.

So if you like your YA romance as sweet as your cupcakes, this one’s for you!

11336994_10205932706989207_6906869468018564525_o

What Happens To Your Couple After The Last Page Is Turned … Secrets to Relationship Success

Last week I had the privilege of doing a guest post for Apryl Baker’s Romance Blogfest 2015. I wanted to look at what makes a relationship last, both on and off the page. So at my grandparents’ 60th anniversary I asked them what their advice was for couples. They had some pretty cute things to say. Check out the full post here and don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win a copy of the ebook (US) and signed paper copy (CAN). Also, feel free to check out all the other great authors being featured this month (and their great giveaways) and find a new book to fall in love with!.

Getting the Creative Juices Flowing: Are More Brains Better Than One? Zombies Think So.

photo-7

North York Public Library’s Teen Writing Workshop

Last week I had the good fortune to be invited to speak at a teen writing workshop with friend and fellow writer Angela Misri. I was amazed by their enthusiasm and creativity, especially when we put them into groups and got them to come up with a story idea, then pitch it to us. Some pretty hilarious concepts ensued, the winner being an abominable snowman and sasquatch who fell in love online and whose epic meet-up is threatened by climate change as the polar ice caps melt. (Another mention was Heil Humpty, about a sentient, Nazi-sympathizing, man-eating egg à la Little Shop of Horrors – don’t ask).

Anyway, silliness aside, it got me thinking how important it is to have people we can bounce our ideas off of. Too often, writing is a solitary process. We spend all day at our computers surfing the net and social media creating and there’s no one around, except maybe the cat or the mailman, who we can get an opinion from.

images-1

Mmmm. Brains.

Sometimes writers also fear that their ideas will be stolen. When I was a literary agent I encountered this frequently. A few people were even afraid to send in their manuscript in its entirety for fear of being plagiarized (this almost never happens). Also, sometimes we’re afraid of sharing because we don’t want our ideas or writing to be judged. We want to perfect things before anyone sees them. This might work for some but I say the sooner the feedback, the better. If you spend months and years tweaking something and then a reader points out that it doesn’t work/make sense/serve the story, think of all the time and effort that could have been saved.

Writers shouldn’t let things things like this keep them and their work isolated. Of course, if that’s how you prefer things, then that’s great. Personally, I’m a social creature and like having others I can hash things out with, whether online, or in a real physical location.

What about you? What’s your process?

xoxo

Alisha

 

 

 

Save the Frogs Day!

We have a lot of great stuff going on in honour of Save the Frogs Day!

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 10.01.43 AMOver at my awesome US publishers Swoon Romance, there’s a giveaway going on on Instagram where all you have to do is follow @swoonromance for a chance to win a free ebook of Kissing Frogs. Plus, for all you aspiring authors out there, it comes with the chance to get feedback on your own story pitch/query! The contest is open to US/Canada residents and to enter you must share the Instagram post, as well as comment below answering this question: If you had to kiss a frog for it to become your Prince Charming who would that Prince Charming be? The comp ends May 9th and there will be one winner!

Also, my amazing Canadian publishers have graciously reduced the price of Kissing Frogs on Kobo and iTunes to $4.99 (that’s only the price of a latte!) in honour of today, so make sure to snag your copy. And say you’re a 32-year-old male who maybe doesn’t happen to read romances (no judging if you do!), buy one anyway and feel good that a portion of your purchase will be donated to Save the Frogs foundation.

Thanks everyone for taking part and helping to Save the Frogs!

xoxo

Alisha

 

 

This entry was posted in General.