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Today I’m thrilled to be a part of Meagan Spooner’s blog tour for the release of SHADOWLARK, book 2 in the Skylark Trilogy, which released on October 1, 2013. I loved the combination fantasy and dystopian elements in SKYLARK. I can’t wait to read SHADOWLARK, which takes us into a new underground world as Lark searches for her brother. It’s already getting great reviews and I’m dying to read it. .

You can read my very popular interview with Meagan when SKYLARK released HERE.

Here’s a blurb about SHADOWLARK:

Ever since she escaped the city within the Wall, Lark Ainsley's wanted one thing: to find her brother Basil. She's always believed he would be the one to put an end to the constant fear and flight. And now, hidden underground in the chaotically magical city of Lethe, Lark feels closer to him than ever.

But Lethe is a city cowering in fear of its founder, the mysterious Prometheus, and of his private police force. To get the truth about what happened to Basil, Lark has no choice but to face Prometheus.

Facing her fears has become second nature to Lark. Facing the truth is another matter.

Lark never asked to be anyone's savior. She certainly never wanted to be anyone's weapon. She might not have a choice.

Welcome back, Meagan! I’m so excited to have you back.

Thank you for having me! I’m such a fan of Literary Rambles, so it’s always great fun to be here with you, Natalie.

1. You’re so sweet. What’s the process of plotting out this trilogy been like and how much of the story did you know before SKYLARK was released? What’s your advice for the rest of us contemplating writing a trilogy?

I’m in the minority among published authors in that I tend not to outline extensively before I write. I always know where I want to end up, but the exact route from A to B is a bit hazy. I let my characters drive the story—I always try to think of the plot points and twists that will most challenge my characters. Put simply, when I’m stuck, I just ask, “What’s the worst possible thing that could happen to my character right now?”

My best advice for aspiring series writers is to focus on book one first. For one thing, you never know if it’s going to get published, so you don’t want to waste time plotting out an entire trilogy (or longer series) if you’re never going to use that plotting. And don’t try to hold back with book one. You can ALWAYS come up with something even more harrowing and gripping, even if it seems like you’re using up all your drama in the first book!

2. You’re not alone in not outlining. I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t. And that’s a great question to ask yourself when you get stuck. From the blurb of SHADOWLARK, I can tell that Lark has really grown from the naïve and weak teenager she was in SKYLARK. Share a bit about her character development and any challenges you faced with her in this book.

Because I tend to let my characters drive the plot, a lot of what happens in book two revolves around Lark’s inability to trust, given how much betrayal she faced in SKYLARK; her newfound abilities, and what they mean for her humanity; and, of course, her feelings for Oren, which linger despite the events and revelations at the end of SKYLARK. In SHADOWLARK, she’s searching for signs of what happened to her brother; though she’s abandoned the hope of finding him alive, she suspects he died in Lethe, and wants to put those ghosts to rest by avenging his death. Unfortunately, she begins to realize that she and the antagonist, Prometheus, have more in common than she suspected, and it brings up a whole new series of questions about right and wrong, and what it means to be human.

3. I really like how you focus on themes. Like Lark not trusting people and the issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. And I love that you take us to a new setting—the underground magical city of Lethe. Tell us about your world building process.

Throughout the Skylark Trilogy there’s a tension between the natural and the manmade. Wild magic
versus the Institute’s Resource. City versus wilderness. Lethe is no different, although the tensions there are not quite as blatant as in SKYLARK. Lethe is really two cities: the one above-ground, ruined and populated by the crumbling remnants of civilization; and the one below, full of hoarded magic and buildings made of detritus from the wars.

I wanted Lethe to feel very different from Lark’s home city. Her home city is very organized, regimented, under tight control of its ruling Institute. The streets are clean, the air is sterile, and magic is stiffly restricted. Lethe is the opposite. Lark’s first few of the city is from above, and it’s a sprawling mass of haphazard walkways leading down into the bowels of the earth, with houses made of scrap material and half-broken machines wandering everywhere. Magic leaks from the very ceiling at night, cascading down like starlight. Lethe is a city of chaos, but at its very core Lark will have to deal with the same question that has haunted her since she fled her own city: is the freedom of one person worth the potential destruction of an entire way of life?

4. I can tell how well thought out your plot is and it’s making me read your book even more. So it’s been a little over a year since your first book was released. In retrospect, what worked marketing-wise and what didn’t? What advice do you have for other authors who signed a book contract and are looking ahead to the release of their first book?

It’s hard to tell what worked, marketing-wise, because there’s no great way to tell what efforts led to sales. My best advice to new writers is to try to relax. If there’s something you want to try, by all means try it! Do what feels good to you. If you hate blogging, then don’t worry about having an up-to-date blog. If you prefer Twitter, then focus your efforts there. If you hate social media in general, then concentrate on getting to know your local booksellers, or go to conferences. You shouldn’t force yourself to do things that you hate, because you’ll only make yourself crazy that way.

5. Thanks for sharing how not to make yourself crazy. I like the idea of focusing on what you’re comfortable doing. Are you marketing SHADOWLARK differently than SKYLARK? Why?

I’m stressing about it a lot less. One of the things I learned while promoting SKYLARK is that your best efforts are really just a drop in the bucket. The best thing you can do to sell books is to write a good book… and that’s a frustrating thing for new writers to hear. It’s still frustrating to me, when I think about it! New writers want to feel like they’re doing everything they can to push their book into the spotlight. But I think as you get further into this business, it becomes easier to feel a bit philosophical about the marketing, and concentrate on producing good work instead.

6. I’ve heard similar advice from other writers who have published more than one book. What’s your favorite social networking site for reaching out to the writing community and your readers? What advice do you have for the rest of us in using this platform?

I think Twitter is probably my favorite, though you wouldn’t have caught me saying that a couple of years ago. In many ways Twitter drives me crazy, but in other ways it’s the perfect medium for authors to interact with fans. Authors are easy to find, so fans can look them up at will. It’s easy to engage with fans there, and to engage with a large number of them at once. You can use it for contests, for announcements, and to keep abreast of what’s happening in the biz. My advice is not to get wrapped up in self-promotion, though. Twitter is a community, not a soapbox… support your fellow authors, engage with your readers, and talk about things (that AREN’T just your book) that you think your fans would find interesting.

I just joined Twitter (Everyone, follow me @NatalieIAguirre and I’ll follow you back) so the advice is timely. I already follow you and will watch for how you do it.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Meagan. You can find Meagan at:

On the web: http://www.meaganspooner.com
On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MeaganSpooner
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MeaganSpoonerBooks
On Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/meaganspooner/
On Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615776.Meagan_Spooner

Meagan Spooner is the author of the Skylark Trilogy; SKYLARK, the first in the series, came out last year and its sequel, SHADOWLARK, will be available from Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Books Oct. 1, 2013. She is also the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, the first in a young adult science fiction trilogy available from Disney-Hyperion Dec. 10, 2013. She's traveled all over the world, and there's a bit of every trip in every story she writes. She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there's no telling how long she'll stay there.

So there’s two Rafflecopter giveaways. For the blog giveaway, I’m giving away a signed copy of SKYLARK. Our blog giveaway is open to US residents only and ends 12:00 am on October 9th.

Use this Rafflecopter to enter the blog giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And here are the details of the Blog Tour International giveaway. For this one, there’s a secret password that unlocks additional chances to win. Our blog tour stop’s Password is Basil. Stop at all the stops to find the Passwords (see below) for more chances to win.

US/Canada residents can win a signed copy of Skylark AND Shadowlark.

International residents can win (unsigned) copies of Skylark AND Shadowlark sent via Book Depository.

The winner will also win either a query critique (if an aspiring author) OR a pre-order copy of These Broken Stars (her new series co-written with Amie Kaufman).

This contest will run from September 23 – October 6 with the winner being chosen on October 7.

Use this Rafflecopter to enter the International giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A special thanks to Jessica at Step Into Fiction who organized this blog tour.  She's been awesome to work with! And I recommend that you follow her blog.

And here are the other stops in the Blog Tour:

Monday, September 23
Review - Xpresso Reads

Tuesday, September 24
·                     Interview - Two Chicks on Books

Wednesday, September 25
·                     Review - Good Books and Good Wine

Thursday, September 26
·                     Guest Post - Fantasy Book Addict
Friday, September 27
·                     Review - Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, September 30
·                     Review - Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf

Tuesday, October 1 {RELEASE DAY}
·                     Guest Post - The Book Smugglers

Wednesday, October 2
·                     Review - Anna Reads

Thursday, October 3
·                     Interview -Literary Rambles

Friday, October 4
·                     Review - YA Sisterhood

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I’m interviewing debut author Mindy McGinnis and giving away an ARC of her YA post-apocalyptic story about a world with little water. I loved that this was a really character driven story that had a contemporary feel to it.

The following Monday I’m interviewing Jenny Lundquist and giving away an ARC of THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK, a YA fantasy about a girl forced to always wear a mask. This was a fantastic story that kept me up into the wee hours of the night.

Tuesday that week I’m participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop. There have been lots of great new releases this Fall and I’ve got lots of great book choices for you.

Wednesday that week, I’m super excited to feature Tu Publishing books. This is a fantastic publishing house that publishes fantasy and sci-fi middle grade and picture book stories that are multicultural. I’ll be giving away THE MONSTER IN THE MUDBALL, a fun middle grade adventure, WOLF MARK, a YA paranormal story, and CAT GIRL’S DAY OFF, a YA urban fantasy.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Theresa Milstein said...

I'm a panster too. I liked hearing about Megan's character's growth.

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Meagan! Love the cover for book two, and the trilogy sounds awesome! I really need to catch up on my to-read list. :)

Rosi said...

Another pantser here, too. Very informative interview. Thanks!

Beth said...

Congratulations to Meagan! It's always great to see somebody rise to success like she has.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats, Meagan. Cool cover and the premise sounds just like what I'd like to read.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Congrats on the new book! Sounds great. I love the themes you're working with as well.

Michael G-G said...

Great to hear about this, and Meagan's process in writing. I'm not sure what really works in marketing beyond just writing the very best book, and having readers say "you gotta read this!" I am put off by people who tweet about nothing else but their books!

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Meagan. I love Twitter and the writing advice is great.

Unknown said...

I love Meagan's advice, "Try to relax." Yes! It's too easy to freak out about releasing a book and doing everything "right." Truth is, there is no right way, and Meagan's words are perfect. Thanks for the interview! :-)

Lydia Kang said...

Looking forward to reading these! Thanks Meagan and Natalie!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Congratulations, Meagan! Another great interview, solid advice here, and looking forward to reading Shadowlark. I read the first one!
And sounds like another great week line up on the blog!

Vanessa Morgan said...

Love the cover for Shadowlark.

Jocelyn Rish said...

Appreciate Meagan's advice to relax. For a while there, I was trying to be a part of every social media outlet and it was making me crazy - and I don't even have a book to promote yet!