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Today I have follower and debut author Lexa Cain here to share about her debut YA novel, SOUL CUTTER that released December 6, 2013. It’s so awesome to help celebrate another friend’s debut book release. And this sounds so fantastic with the psychic scams, the Egyptian setting, and the mysterious disappearance of Élan’s mom. I can’t wait to read it.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

The Soul Cutter is hunting again.

Seventeen-year-old Élan spends her free time videoing psychic scams and outing them online. Skepticism makes life safe—all the ghosts Élan encounters are fakes. When her estranged mother disappears from a film shoot in Egypt, Élan puts her medium-busting activities on hold and joins the search.

In Egypt, the superstitious film crew sucks at finding her mom. When a hotel guest is killed, whispers start—the locals think their legendary Soul Cutter has come back from the dead. Élan's only ally is Ramsey, a film-crew intern, but he’s arrogant, stubborn—and hiding dangerous secrets.

When Élan discovers the Soul Cutter is no scam, she finds herself locked in a deadly battle against a supernatural killer with more than her mother’s life at stake.

Élan is fighting for her very soul.

Hi Lexa. Happy Debut! Thanks for letting us help celebrate.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Oops. Wrong story. Not too long ago in a much closer galaxy, a little Earth girl became thoroughly entranced with horror on TV (things like “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” which inspired Chris Carter to create the “X-Files”) and books (King, Koontz, McCammon and Rice). When you grow up on a diet like that, you naturally become a horror writer. So eat your veggies.

2. That’s awesome that you loved horror as a kid. And all those TV shows probably taught you a lot about plot. Where did you get the idea for your story?

I was kinda like Goldilocks. I tried writing an MG novel about pixies, but it was too sweet. Next I tried a YA Fantasy with an evil genie, but it was too predictable. Then I tried a YA Horror with an original set of creatures, including the Soul Cutter, and a kick-butt hero and heroine. That one fit just right.

The idea for the book came to me when I happened on a Yahoo article about haunted hotels in the US. There were some creepy stories in there, and I wondered what a haunted hotel in Egypt would be like. Sometimes ignoring work to surf the net pays off!

3. Love the Goldilocks analogy. I know you’ve lived in Egypt for 20 years. How cool! And one of the things I find intriguing is that you set your book there. Share some cool things about your setting. And do the myths in SOUL CUTTER have any roots in Egyptian superstitions?

The abandoned palace in the book is based on a real abandoned palace in Alexandria, which once belonged to Egypt’s kings. There are plenty of ancient places in Egypt to inspire a writer. You can’t throw a rock around here without hitting some kind of historical site! About superstitions, real charms and beliefs are explored in the book, but I took literary license with the main villain, the Soul Cutter. Interestingly, the myths of genies, efreet, and undead ghouls first began in Egypt. According to Arabic legend, a ghoul is an evil demon that dwells in the desert and appears to travelers. It lures them off the road, into the wasteland, and then kills and eats them. Eww!

4. Eww is right! But the Egyptian myths and historical places sound like they could give a writer tons of story ideas. You describe SOUL CUTTER as a romantic horror story. What tips do you have about writing in the horror genre?

There are two very important things about writing horror (or any kind of thriller/suspense). One is to make sure the setting and characters are as realistic as possible. This will make the reader suspend disbelief and be more likely to accept it when unusual things start happening. The other is to focus on character reaction more than frightening descriptions. By showing the characters’ fear, both mentally and physically, you’ll draw the reader into the characters, and they’ll feel as if everything is happening to them.

5. That’s a fantastic tip. Share one of your challenges craft-wise in writing this story and how you overcame it.

Me? Craft challenges? Not me -- I’m perfect! lol Hmm. Where do I begin? I’m not sure your blog is big enough to contain the list of problems. Everything from beginning in the wrong place, to bloated backstories, to time-line confusion trying to balance two POV characters. I only overcame these problems because I have an awesome set of CPs. We met online at writing.com and some of us have now worked together for over four years. Most of us now have book contracts and two have agents. My advice to writers? Join every writing forum and site and look for a like-minded group of people, where you respect each other and genuinely want to improve. That is the best way to get published.

6. You’re making me not feel so bad about all my manuscript problems. And your critique group sounds like it’s helped you all a lot. Your agent is Michelle Johnson. How did she become your agent?

I’m still asking myself that question. Mostly, I was lucky. I’d queried until the cows were not only home, but in the barn sleeping. Despite plenty of requests, no one had made an offer. Refusing to give up, I started subbing small presses, got an immediate offer, and then sent squeals of “Offer Received” to every agent who still had my fulls. By chance, Michelle Johnson had just left an agency to start her own company and was actively looking for new clients. The rest is serendipitous history!

7. We should all remember your experience if we move onto submitting to small presses. What were some of your considerations in signing with MuseItUp Publishing and what do you advise others to look into if they are considering a smaller press?

This topic has a number of pros and cons, but I’ll just give my impression of things. I think that when most of us start writing, we dream of success with one of the big traditional publishers. Small presses aren’t even on our radar. We think if we just work hard enough and grind our computer keys to nubs, we’ll make it. (No seriously, I have rubbed half the letters off my keyboard. It’s a pitiful sight.) But after all that time and effort, the dream doesn’t materialize. And we are so depressed. However, I know people who’ve gotten contracts with the big guys, and it wasn’t all roses and rainbows. There were problems with contracts, e-book rights, reprint rights, no input on covers that end up misrepresenting the book, and not nearly as much marketing help as you’d expect -- to name a few. On the other hand, small pubbers are like families. They’re much more amenable to contract changes, allow input at every stage of the publishing process, give you far more freedom, and a bigger profit share. I value my freedom and peace of mind and wouldn’t hesitate to work with MuseItUp (or another small publisher) again. Just do your homework to be sure the publisher is reputable (see Preditors & Editors: http://pred-ed.com/).

8. Yes, I’ve heard of good and bad experiences with the bigger publishers too. What are you working on now?

That’s a big secret. I’d tell you, but then I’d have to … well, you know. Heh-heh-heh.

Well, hopefully you’ll be able to share it soon in my Monday Follower News. Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lexa. You can find Lexa at:

Blog: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lexa.cain.1
Facebook Author: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lexa-Cain/504432766289367
Goodreads-Author: http://www.goodreads.com/Lexa_Cain
Goodreads-Book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18753339-soul-cutter

And here's the links to purchase her awesome book:

Lexa has generously offered an ARC for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through January 4th. I’ll announce the winner on January 6th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I’ll be participating in Anna Staniszewski’s blog tour for the last book in her series, MY SORT OF FAIRY TALE ENDING. She’ll be doing a guest post on how to market a series and there will be a giveaway of all three of her books in this series.

Then on Saturday, December 21st I’ll be participating in the Midwinter Eve Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great YA book choices. This will be my last post until January 6, 2014.

On January 6th, I’m interviewing debut author Sara Larson and giving away an ARC of DEFY, her YA fantasy about a girl who impersonates a boy in the Prince’s guard to escape being sent to an awful breeding house. I love stories with strong female characters like in DEFY and this is a real page turner.

I have a number of great debut author interviews and giveaways that I’m excited to share with you in January. Come back on January 6th to find out about some of them.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!


PK HREZO said...

And these answers are just proof why I adore Lexa. And yeah the fact she lives in Egypt and writes about is the coolest!!! Congrats, Lexa!!

Stina said...

This book sounds exactly what my son would love to read. Unfortunately he doesn't like ebooks. None of my kids do. :(

The concept is awesome and I love your 'how I found my agent' story, Lexa.

Jess said...

Hooray for Lexa! I loved this interview, especially things like: " You can’t throw a rock around here without hitting some kind of historical site." :)

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for doing an interview with me, Natalie! It was so much fun! :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cool that the palace in the book is based on a real place.
Small presses have fewer authors, so it's more of a family feel rather than just business.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Fantastic interview, Lexa and Natalie! I love the synopsis -- and I had no idea you've been living in Egypt for 20 years. Wow!

Anonymous said...

It was great reading about Lexa. I'll be done with her book in a few days and it's fantastic so far.

Nicole said...

Very cool concept and setting! And great advice in the q&a too. I'd love to win an ARC!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Great interview with Lexa. Love the sound of Soul Cutter.

Jenni said...

What an inspiring interview!. Huge congrats, Lexa!

Kate Larkindale said...

Great interview. Lexa is so funny! It's amazing she can write such scary stuff.

Karen Lange said...

Congrats to Lexa! Nice interview, thank you!

Shah Wharton said...

Hey Lex, loved nosing about in your recent history about landing a contract and agent. Your efforts paid off. And I envy your CP's ... I do hope with persistence I'll get my own. I have to point out I want to be counted as an entrant for the giveaway Natalie! I shared on FB and here: https://twitter.com/shahw1/status/411384205004656640 at Twitter. :)

shahwharton @ gmail . com

Unknown said...

Ooh, I've always found Egyptian stuff fascinating! Can't say the same for horror, though ;) After I scared the pants off myself by reading The Shining in the middle of the night, I haven't tried many other scary books!

Heather R. Holden said...

Great interview! Lexa's book sounds fantastic. I really loved her advice about writing horror. So true about the character reactions!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing the interview. It really brings new perspective on Lexa and the book.

Julie Flanders said...

What a great interview! You are so funny, Lexa! I cracked up about the cows home and sleeping in the barn LOL.

Thanks for sharing this interview, Natalie! Literary Rambles is such a great name for a site.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I am so in. Sounds like a fun book and it was a fun interview.

Off to Goodreads ...

Anonymous said...

Loved the interview! And the insights into the publishing world were great--thanks!

Julie Musil said...

Congratulations to Lexa! I've heard great things about MuseItUp and other small publishers.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Fascinating interview. So your novel has a haunted palace, Lexa. Sounds like my kind of story. I agree with you about Indie publishers. The ones I've had experience with are like family. Best of luck to you and Soul Cutter.

DMS said...

I love Lexa and it was such fun to read this interview! Not only does Soul Cutter sound fabulous- but it was great to learn more about how she came to write and what has inspired her. Loved the Goldilocks analogy. :)

Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway!

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Lexa! Love how you came up with the idea of your story! What great advice too!

Robyn Campbell said...

Man, I am not believing those tips. EXCELLENT! I cannot wait to read Soul Cutter. It sounds FABULOUS!! The Goldilocks comparison is so cool! Lexa, I've always wanted to travel to Egypt and you get to live there. Thanks Natalie and Lexa for a wonderful interview!

Theresa Milstein said...

Nice to meet you, Lexa. Good luck with the book. So many people are fascinated with all Egyptian-related.

T.F. Walsh said...

Loved reading your interview, Lexa, and you share some very wise words about the publishing industry for all writers:)

Jocelyn Rish said...

Great interview from Lexa, she cracks me up. She and I have been following each other's blogs for a while now, and I've learned that she is totally my horror soul sister. Can't want to read Soul Cutter!

Kim said...

Love this interview! Soul Cutter is an amazing book :)

Natasha said...

Great interview!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Unknown said...

Following on GFC as Mary's Cup of Tea. Email: bearcup58@yahoo.com Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

Tweeted the giveaway:

kimlajevardi.com said...

Great interview, Lexa and Natalie! SOUL CUTTER is a great debut. I'm in the middle of it right now. If anyone's on the fence about it, jump in. It's fast paced and full of suspense. Definitely hard to put down

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Wizard interview! Thanks to the description, I want to read Soul Cutter now either way, but I'd also want to read it if I didn't know anything about it--this interview was a blast to read.