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MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE WEEK INTERVIEW WITH JANICE HARDY AND BOOK GIVEAWAY AND SPOTLIGHT DEBUT AUTHORS WEEK

First I want everyone to know that Christina Lee has organized a number of bloggers to spotlight debut authors this week. To find out about everyone participating, go to her blog. I really recommend you do because it's awesome that she's organized this.

Although I’m not interviewing a debut author this week, I am participating and want to give a shout out about THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton as I announce the winner of her ARC. It really is a fabulous action packed fantasy in a fantastic setting—1871. And it’s gotten a lot of great reviews. So if you don’t win it, I really recommend you read it. And I’ll be telling you at the end of this interview about other debut authors I’m interviewing this month.

Thanks so much to everyone who spread the word about this contest.

So the winner of THE FAERIE RING is a New Follower:

CASSANDRA-THE BOOK & MOVIE DIMENSION BLOGGER!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so that I can send you your book.

Today I’m excited to interview Janice Hardy about her book DARKFALL, the final book in The Healing Wars series, which was released on October 4, 2011. This might have been my favorite book in the series. I loved how Nya grew and that the series ended with a conclusion that tied up the loose ends.

Here’s a description of DARKFALL from Goodreads:

War has come.

Nya’s the one who brought it. And the people love her for it.

With Baseer in shambles and Geveg now an impenetrable military stronghold, Nya and the Underground have fled to a safer location—without Tali. Nya is guilt-ridden over leaving her sister behind and vows to find her, but with the rebellion in full swing and refugees flooding the Three Territories, she fears she never will.

The Duke, desperate to reclaim the throne as his own, has rallied his powerful army. And they are on the move, destroying anyone who gets in the way.

To save her sister, her family, and her people, Nya needs to stay ahead of the Duke’s army and find a way to build one of her own. Past hurts must be healed, past wrongs must be righted, and Nya must decide: Is she merely a pawn in the rebellion, a symbol of hope—or is she ready to be a hero?


Hi Janice. Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me!

1. I loved how Nya evolves as a character throughout the series. Can you talk a bit about her character development?

Nya lives in a world where being noticed is a good way to get yourself hurt, so she’s spent most of her life trying not to be seen. But to stop the oppression of her people requires her to become the symbol of their rebellion, something she’s not at all comfortable with. Part of that reason is because she’s not comfortable with who (and what) she is—a shifter. To accept the role she needs to play to save those she loves, she also has to accept who she is and what she can do. The whole series gets her to that point.

2. I knew you’d have thought out her whole character development for the series, something really important to do to make the series interesting. A constant theme in all three books is Nya’s relationship with her sister Tali and the need to help her. In each book, Tali’s situation and Nya’s choices regarding her change. Can you tell us about how you plotted it out?

THE SHIFTER was easy. Tali was her only family and Nya would do anything to save her. She was a bit selfish in that regard really. It was all about saving Tali.

For BLUE FIRE it got a little wonky, because the Tali plotline I had originally planned wasn’t meshing with the Duke/war plot. Nya’s worldview was opening up (as planned) but it was almost like she’d forgotten her sister, which wasn’t like Nya at all. I finally realized that it wasn’t about her saving Tali again (I’d done that) but about Nya discovering there was more to life than just her and her sister. Nya chooses the bigger picture, and it costs her dearly where Tali is concerned. I had actually planned to have her save Tali, then realized how wrong that was for Nya’s character arc. She had to fail here to learn an important lesson that would get her to where she needed to be emotionally for the third book.

DARKFALL put Nya in the position of having to choose: Tali or the cause? But Nya made that choice once and regretted it, so she’s not willing to compromise again. I knew I wanted her to face that same choice over and over in small ways, having to choose between those she loves, her “family” (even those that aren’t her blood) or the greater good. This mirrored her own journey since she had to decide if she was merely a girl or someone who could change things, stop the Duke and inspire her people to fight. Tali becomes Nya’s inspiration so she can inspire others and be what she has to be to save all of them.

3. I just love how you carried this theme to new heights in DARKFALL. You’ve now finished this series. What did you learn about writing a series from writing this one? Do you have any advice for us aspiring authors trying to create a trilogy?

Oh goodness, so much there! Trilogies are hard. There are a ton of things to keep track of, lots of backstory to incorporate, plots that need to stand alone and still maintain the overall story arc. My advice would be what I’ve learned doing it.

1. Give each book a solid stand alone plot. The story can continue from book to book, but the more solid your core conflict is, the easier it’ll be to write. You’ll have a good understanding of the goals and stakes and won’t be floundering to figure out how it all fits together.

2. Pretend the previous book(s) is the backstory. Don’t try to rehash or re-explain all of book one or two. Just pretend it’s part of the character’s history and treat it same as you would any other backstory. Once the first draft is done, you’ll know what needs to be fleshed out for new readers.

3. Keep revealing new stuff. Even if the plot is different, if readers don’t learn anything new about the characters or the world, it can feel like the same basic book all over again. Show new aspects of the world, the characters, the problems, the stakes, etc.

4. That’s such awesome advice. As I’m reading second and third books in series, I’m realizing how important it is to reveal new stuff and characters in future books to keep my interest. I know your agent is Kristen Nelson. I’d so love to work with her and Sara Megibow. What’s it like working with them? Do you have any helpful tips on how to best work as a team with your agent?

Working with them is great. They’re both just darling and wonderful. Sharp and savvy women who really know their stuff. Kristin is very hands on and has a wonderful editorial eye, so she was incredibly helpful with getting THE SHIFTER ready for submission. She’s great at brainstorming ideas and making you think about what makes a story good as well as marketable.

I think communication is key with your agent. I was pretty intimidated at first because she was an AGENT (insert scary music). I was nervous about emailing her with questions because I might be “bothering” her. But that’s what she’s there for and she wants to help. It wasn’t long before I relaxed and now whenever I need her she’s there and happy to help. You have to remember that your agent is there to help you succeed. They took you on because they saw potential in your work and they love your writing. They want you to be the best you can be.

5. You have an awesome blog on the craft of writing, (Seriously everyone, if you haven’t checked out Janice’s blog, I highly recommend it), work part-time, and write. How do you juggle it all?

Thanks! It’s a labor of love for sure. Juggling it all requires good scheduling and routines.
I try to write all my main blog posts on Saturdays and queue them up for the week. I usually only run into trouble when I can’t get them done ahead of time, then they stack up and I feel like I’m rushing to get everything done. Weekday mornings are for novels, then lunch, then answer emails, blog comments, check Twitter, etc. (This takes about an hour) Afternoons are for the day job or more writing or blogging. Monday afternoons are for marketing stuff. I contact folks about interviews, (either for me or those I invite to post on my blog) write any guest posts or answer interviews (like this one), do research for PR/marketing things, like book festivals or conferences I might want to attend.

Depending on what deadline I have at the time, that can change, but I try to stick to it as best I can. Having specific days to work on things helps a lot, because that way I know if I have to get back to someone for something, it’s all done on one day. It’s the constant interruptions of smaller things that really steal your time. When I have them all at once, I’m much more productive.

6. What have you learned about marketing from your first two books and how is that influencing your marketing of DARKFALL?

A frustrating thing about marketing is that you have no idea if it’s working. It takes a lot of effort, and that can steal your writing time, so you have to be careful about spending too much time (and money) on promotion when you ought to be writing the next book. I’m working harder this time to find that balance. Although I’m doing some guest posts, I’m skipping the big blog tour this book. I’m focusing more on getting out there to talk to folks about the book through festivals and events. Trying to go where my readers are, which can be tough for a middle grade novel.

7. Finding the balance is definitely hard, even for an aspiring author like me. That’s so interesting you decided against a big blog tour. I hope you’ll post on your blog how you feel this new marketing went. What are you working on now?

A YA fantasy about a deep cover spy who gets caught between love and loyalty when a political assassination exposes her true identity. I’m trying several new things with it, so it’s been both a blast and a challenge.

It sounds awesome. Good luck Janice with your new book and DARKFALL. You can find Janice on her blog (Again I really recommend you follow it) and her website.

Janice’s publisher generously offered an ARC for a giveaway. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on October 29th. I’ll announce the winner on October 31st. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Whitney Messenger to spotlight middle grade authors. Check it out here. And today Shannon is sharing BIG NEWS. I'm SO excited for her. Stop by and congratulate her!

And check out these other Marvelous Monday Middle Grade Reviewers:

Shannon O’Donnell
Joanne Fritz
Sherrie Petersen
Brooke Favero
Myrna Foster
Anita Laydon Miller
Barbara Watson
Just Deb
Kit Lit Frenzy
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin
Pam Torres

Here’s what’s coming up the next few weeks. On Friday, I'll be participating in the PAY IT FORWARD blogfest where we share about a few awesome blogs you may not know about. So I hope you'll stop by.

Next Monday I’m interviewing a 9th grade aspiring author who follows our blog for my Ask The Expert series and giving away an ARC I know you’ll want. And on October 24th, I’ll be interviewing debut author Stasia Ward Kehoe and giving away a copy of AUDITION. Then on October 31st, I’m interviewing another debut author Anna Staniszewski and giving away a copy of MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE.

Hope to see you Friday and next Monday!

42 comments:

  1. The first two books in the series were awesome, Janice Hardy is a great author. I've tweeted this here: http://twitter.com/#!/wendywchen/status/123340149416411136

    My email is wendy(dot)chen1996(at)gmail(dot)com

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  2. I've been following Janice's blog for awhile now. It's an awesome resources for writers!

    As for her books, hmm, I love me some fantasy!

    Congrats on the latest release, Janice!


    PS: I posted it on twitter and Facebook.
    juliana(dot)haygert(at)gmail(dot)com

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  3. Thanks Janice for sharing all your wisdom again. Good luck with DARKFALL.

    And Wendy & Juliana, thanks so much for spreading the word and stopping by.

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  4. Great interview! I absolutely love this series. Thanks for the giveaway :)
    Aeicha
    wordspelunker(at)gmail(dot)com

    I blogged here: http://wordspelunking.blogspot.com/2011/09/giveaway-on-i-devour-books.html

    Tweeted here: https://twitter.com/#!/WordSpelunker/status/123373212640878592

    Facebooked here: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=133614783407414&id=270938366255554

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  5. Thanks Natalie, for letting me stop by today. And thanks all for the kind words! Glad you're enjoying both the series and the blog.

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  6. Thanks for telling me about Darkfall. What an intriguing cover. It's good hear about a book I didn't know about in this spotlight series.

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  7. I'm such a huge fan of both Janice's books and her blog. Thanks for this great interview, and for the chance to win the last book in the series!

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  8. Great interview! Janice is so jam-packed with writerly knowledge and I always learn something from her blog posts and interviews! I would love to win Darkfall (I loved the first two books)!

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  9. Great interview! And the new story Janice is working on sounds amazing.

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  10. Wow, lots of good stuff going on over here! Hi Janice (love your blog too)! So very interesting what she said about the market in question #6. Leaves lots to think about.

    Thx for the debut author shout-out!

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  11. Thanks for the interview! I love to hear the behind the scenes action that goes into creating a book.

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  12. All of Janice's books look so good! And her blog on the craft is great! Nice interview.

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  13. Thanks all! I can wait until the new book is done (and hopefully sells!). I'm having so much fun with it. The protag is the opposite of Nya from The Shifter. Cautious instead of impulsive, calculating instead of instinctive.

    It's been a while since I've done a marketing post, so I might have to do another once all the launch events are over. We can never have enough info on that out there right?

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  14. Janice always has great things to say. Love her blog!

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  15. The Shifter has one of the best beginnings ever, and I love her blog. Thanks for the interview!

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  16. Well, I did not know this series (just when you think you know it all, ha ha). Will for sure check it out and share with my book club kids, as well! Thanks for the heads up and Janice thanks for sharing in the interview!

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  17. I really enjoyed this interview and was particularly taken by this: "3. Keep revealing new stuff. Even if the plot is different, if readers don’t learn anything new about the characters or the world, it can feel like the same basic book all over again. Show new aspects of the world, the characters, the problems, the stakes, etc."

    That seems like the perfect advice for ensuring new conflict arise and to ensure there isn't a fall into a formulaic rut.

    Thanks so much!

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  18. I read Janice's blog and love all her advice! Thank you, Janice. Also, thank you, Natalie and Janice for the thoughtful questions and responses. Hearing how others writers do their job is so helpful.

    I would love to win a copy of this ARC.

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  19. wow! this book looks so good ! and I love the cover !!

    Would love to read its ARC <3

    Best,
    Ifrah
    starlight023(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  20. I loved the first 2 and can't WAIT to read this next one. Janice does a great job.

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  21. Janice is just great!!!Thanks for the giveaway :)

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

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  22. I love Janice's blog. It's so helpful!

    Great interview, Natalie. I already have an ARC of DARKFALL, so please don't include me in the giveaway.

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  23. Thanks to Janice for the tips on trilogies and productivity!

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  24. I have the first two books of the series, but haven't read them yet. I bought them for my son.

    I'm interested to hear how the new marketing approach went, too.

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  25. Janice's blog is a must-read. She is so perceptive.

    I can't believe she writes all her posts on a Saturday. Speechless.

    These are great novels, and the success is richly deserved. Thanks for the review and interview, Natalie. I can't wait for your upcoming posts!

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  26. Awesome interview!
    Thanks for the great book rec, and I'm going to now go check out her blog!!

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  27. Great interview, like always, Natalie! I loved hearing Janice's take on writing a series - no easy feat for sure!

    Also, thank you SO much for the shout-out about THE FAERIE RING. So nice of you and I really appreciate it!

    xo
    Kiki

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  28. Great interview... Janice seems wonderful. I've read a few interviews with her.

    I've been gone for a couple weeks...I'm looking forward to your Friday post. :)

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  29. Love Janice Hardy, so excited about this book. Love the series advice. cheers.

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  30. Janice totally rocks. Great interview!

    Oh, and I spread the word here: http://twitter.com/#!/JustJuliHelms/status/123601834286911489

    musicdkz(at)gmail(dot)com

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  31. Janice sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  32. You guys are really making my week with here  Thanks so much!

    Angela B, that was actually a piece of advice I got from my agent during book two. And good advice it was. It also helps with plotting since you know you have to spoon feed those reveals.

    Michael G-G, sometimes I don’t get them all done, but I do try. The really long and involved posts will take longer. Those I’ll do another day on their own after I get the rest done.

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  33. Janice, I met you in Birmingham at a conference last October. It's great to see you again on the blogsphere. Congrats on DARKFALL. Now, that I've seen your blog, I'll be a regular.

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  34. I totally want this book! Great, great interview, Natalie (as always). Thanks for being here, Janice--I LOVE your books and your blog!!! :-)

    P.S. I tweeted

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  35. I agree -- Janice's blog on the writing craft is one of the best out there. Looking forward to reading the last book in the Healing Wars series!

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  36. Aw, thanks guys. Hearing the blog is helping folks makes it all worthwhile.

    Laura, I'll be in Birmingham again this weekend. I'm giving a world building workshop at that same conference. Are you going again?

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  37. What an awesome interview! your book sounds amazing.

    I like how you write in the morning then later look at emails and blogs. I may have to change things up andtry that:)

    BTW Nice to meet you. Keep up the good work:)

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  38. Not this time. I'm trying to save up for SCBWI LA in Aug 2012. Partay! Have a great time at Birmingham. I wish I was there to hear your talk. World-building is so important for all genres.

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  39. Bummer, but you're saving for a good cause. I hope I can make it to one of the big conference next year. :) I'm glad to hear you say that about world building. So many think it's just for SF/F but it's helpful no matter where your world is.

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  40. I'm so glad to have this resource for another great sounding blog. Can't wait to start perusing. Best of the best with your latest book, Janice - I'm looking forward to reading all of them.

    vidamaemaynard@gmail.com

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  41. Book blogs are the bomb. I've found so many new authors that way.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    GFC: Kathy Merkel
    drainbamaged.gyzmo at gmail.com

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