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Today I’m thrilled to have Susan Kaye Quinn here to share about her two newest books, FAERY SWAP, a middle grade fantasy, and THIRD DAUGHTER, a NA fantasy. She is also the author of the MINDJACK trilogy, THE DEBT COLLECTOR, and INDIE AUTHOR SURVIVAL GUIDE.

I read FAERY SWAP and loved it. It’s a great fantasy about Finn, who gets swapped into the faery world by a boy his age, Zaneyr, a Prince in this faery world. I loved reading from both of their POVs and this is a fast paced story that is a page turner. And it will definitely appeal to boys as well as girls. THIRD DAUGHTER sounds really good too and I’m hoping to read it as well.
Susan is a successful self-published author and is so willing to share her advice with other authors. I know we’ll all learn a lot from her.

Here’s a blurb of FAERY SWAP from Goodreads and links to purchase it:

Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn.
Especially when they possess your body.

Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body.Fourteen-

year-old Finn just wants to keep his little sister out of Child Protective Services--an epic challenge with their parentally-missing-in-action dad moving them to England, near the famous Stonehenge rocks. Warrior faery Prince Zaneyr just wants to escape his father's reckless plan to repair the Rift--a catastrophe that ripped the faery realm from Earth 4,000 years ago and set it adrift in an alternate, timeless dimension. When Zaneyr tricks Finn into swapping places, Finn becomes a bodiless soul stuck in the Otherworld, and Zaneyr uses Finn's body to fight off his father's seekers on Earth. Between them, they have two souls and only one body... and both worlds to save before the dimensional window between them slams shut.

Faery Swap is an action and druid-magic filled portal fantasy, told by both a runaway faery prince and the boy he's tricked into taking his place. 

 And here’s a blurb of THIRD DAUGHTER from Goodreads:

Skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue... and, of course, kissing.

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she'll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince's proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince's proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance that takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

Hi Susan! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I’m a former scientist/engineer turned speculative fiction author. Even though I’m just now releasing my first middle grade novel (Faery Swap)—after publishing everything from YA to adult spec fic to non-fiction—I actually started out writing middle grade. I’ve always loved writing, but I took a long hiatus (from both writing and, sadly, reading) when I was having babies and trying to remember what it was like to sleep. As my three boys outgrew the Moo, Baa, La-La-La picture book stage and started into the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson phase, I fell in love with reading again. And picked up the pen and started writing. Although I love all my books, middle grade has a special place in my heart because it drew me back into my beloved world of fiction.

2. I started writing after reading Harry Potter too. Where did you get the idea for FAERY SWAP and what made you decide to branch out into writing a middle grade story?

A lot of my stories come to me while I’m taking long drives in the car by myself. It’s like a vacuum of the senses—just me, the road, my imagination (and hopefully no red twirling lights in the rearview mirror). Several years ago, I brainstormed Faery Swap during one of those long car rides. My first (as yet unpublished) middle grade story was straight-up space opera, so I wanted this one to be more fantasy… but apparently I was delusional about writing fantasy, because my faeries use math and physicks to enhance their magick. I don’t seem to stray far from the science fiction elements, even when I try!

3. That’s a great use of driving time, especially when you’re taking your kids to all their
activities. I noticed that you used some science in the creation of your magical system. Did you draw on your experience as a scientist in that part of your world building?

Absolutely! (My background in engineering seems to filter into all my stories, whether it’s inventing strange mind powers or slightly plausible steampunk inventions). I actually love that aspect of Faery Swap, the idea that faeries come to Earth to steal the latest mathmatickal knowledge from the humans so they can enhance their faery magick—it gives a great message to kids about the power of knowledge (equations in particular, which can seem almost as magickal and mysterious as ancient Druid incantations).

4. I love that aspect of your story too. It gives it a unique twist. Did you find it was different telling a story from two middle grade boys’ POV and what tips do you have for getting the middle grade boy’s voice right?

I loved playing with voice in this story! Human boy Finn is a modern kid from California. Prince Zaneyr is a 4000 year old faery trapped in a 14 year old soul. The language for each was very distinct. I actually read some Yeats and listened to classic Irish verbal storytellers on YouTube to craft the old-yet-new-Irish feel for Zaneyr’s voice. For Finn, I drew upon my childhood growing up in California. Middle grade voice has a touch of innocence to it, yet still a steely clear-eyed view of the world. That goes double for boy-voices, where the character may have a little less emotional insight, or self-knowledge, but still feel all the feelings that come with being a kid in a tough situation. It’s definitely different from YA or adult, but I love it!

5. Great idea to check out YouTube to craft Zaneyr’s voice. You released THIRD DAUGHTER about the same time as FAERY SWAP. Tell us a bit about that story that we wouldn’t know from reading the blurb.

Third Daughter is a steampunk fantasy romance, but it’s really a story about a clash of cultures. It’s set in an alternate-India, where gender stereotypes are turned on their head as Queens rule, and the Third Daughter of the Queen has a lot of true power. The clash comes in when the ancient-East-Indian culture of their past conflicts with the modern intrusion of steampunk technology, particularly in the form of a rumored new skyship weapon. There are parallels in the story to the clashes many in today’s India feel about retaining the traditions of their culture, yet moving into the modern world. In particular, the book’s central conflict is all about arranged marriages vs. marrying for love. But this is an empowering story (I believe) for women—as least, I hope that’s what readers will take from it!

6. I met my husband in India so your setting really appeals to me. I’d like to move onto have you share some of your fantastic advice on self-publishing. What do you attribute your success to and what should other authors consider when deciding whether or not to self-publish?

To what do I attribute my success? Luck? Willingness to jump when others think it’s a bit crazy? Tons and tons and tons of work? Those are all things that go into being a success as a writer, I think, no matter what your path. I believe self-publishing has done something for writers that nothing in the past hundred years of publishing has: made it viable to have a career in writing for more than just the top 1% of writers. As to what to consider? You have to decide if you’re ready in craft—which is difficult, but I talk a bit in my Indie Author Survival Guide about how writing is a steep learning curve, and once you’re 80% of the way up the mountain, you’re starting to write stuff that will sell. Then you have to decide if you’re ready to start a small business of your own—because that’s really what indie publishing is, at least for the writers who want to make a career out of their works. I put together the Guide precisely to help first-time indie authors navigate the sharks, manage their fears, and figure out how (and when) to take that first step into the publishing world.

7. I’m definitely getting your guide if I ever decide to self-publish. And you’re right, if you choose that path, you are starting a business. What parts of the process of publishing a book should a self-published author consider hiring someone for help with, like editing, formatting the manuscript, cover illustrations, etc.? How do you recommend they find qualified people who would do these jobs for a reasonable fee? What resources do you recommend for advice on the parts they would do themselves?

In the Indie Author Survival Guide (and on my website), I have a list of freelance editors, cover artist, formatters, etc.—some that I’ve used and personally recommend, as well as many others that are friends. The most critical thing that I would always hire out is the cover. Unless you professionally make covers for other people (i.e. other people pay you to make their covers), I wouldn’t do it yourself—although saying that, I do recommend that authors give a lot of thought to the design of their covers. Then a professional cover designer can take that concept and make it something you’ll not only be proud of, but that can make a significant difference in selling books. As for the rest—editing, formatting, etc.—you will either pay in time (swapping services) or in money (paying for services). Which suits you best depends on your situation. I cover how to make those trade-offs, and which ones I personally make, in the book as well.

8. That’s so awesome how you share recommendations of who to hire. I’d definitely need to hire a cover designer and someone to help with formatting. I’ve seen you and your books featured on a number of book review blogs and I know it’s harder for self-published authors sometimes to get that type of exposure. And you’ve used marketing tools like book blasts where you offer a bigger prize on multiple blogs to get exposure for your books. How have you been able to connect with these book review bloggers and have the book blasts helped? What are some of your tips on marketing for self-published authors?

Marketing is an ever-evolving puzzle!  But more and more, reviewers and advertisers are opening their doors to self-published authors. They see, as readers do, that self-published works can be just as beautiful, inside and out, as traditionally-published works, and often more innovative and unique, simply because they don’t have to pass through an often risk-averse publishing process. I connect with book bloggers both directly and through services like Xpresso and I Am A Reader that provide blog tours and book blasts (both of which I find helpful). I also use NetGalley to connect with reviewers who may not be on the blogosphere so much, but are influencers in libraries and schools. Self-published authors have many tools at their disposal for getting their works out there, but they should always be looking for new ways to connect with readers.

9. Glad you find the book blasts helpful. And I’ve heard great things about Xpresso. Marketing middle grade books that are traditionally published can be more challenging than for YA books. And you’ve self-published yours. How are you spreading the word about FAERY SWAP?

I held off for so long in publishing my middle grade, precisely because it was so difficult to reach middle grade readers. As I grew to understand the business more, and as the marketplace shifted, with more young readers open to ebooks, I finally decided it was time to take the leap into middle grade. I’m trying lots of different approaches in marketing my middle grade book compared to my other books. For example, I spent considerable time putting together a Virtual Author Visit video—eight minutes of dynamic, kid-friendly presentation meant to be played in the classroom—as well as a Common Core aligned teacher’s guide with activities, discussion questions, and a card-based Knowledge Seekers game.

A substantial part of my focus is making it easy for teachers to bring Faery Swap, and its message about knowledge being power, into the classroom. I’m also reaching out to MG reviewers online, as well as people who have read my books previously, but the teacher (and librarian) focus is new for this book. I’m also part of the Emblazoner indie MG author group, and working together we’ve come up with some fantastic ways to reach this elusive group… including a catalog of our works that’s available for download.

10. That’s great you’re joining with other MG authors. What are you working on now?

Today I’m writing a screenplay (Day Zero)! It’s an adult SF thriller, and is actually part of a screenwriting class I’m taking. Eventually, I will turn it into a novel, and it will be the prequel to my new Singularity series, which I’m also writing now. The Singularity is the time when computers become as intelligent as humans, and I’m writing a YA SF story (Legacy, Singularity #1) about a Legacy human boy who wants to “ascend” and become one of the hyper-intelligent post-Singularity beings. I’m in love with the mind-body-soul questions this series is challenging me to answer! But it will be some time before it is ready for readers (probably 2015).

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction, along with several other speculative fiction titles for adults. Faery Swap is her first published children's story, even though she started out writing middle grade before anything else. She always has more speculative fiction fun in the works.You can find out what she's up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or by stopping by her blog (www.susankayequinn.com).

Wow, Susan! I can’t believe how productive you are. Thanks for sharing all your advice today.

So there will be two giveaways. First there is the tour-wide giveaway that you can enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Susan also generously offered an e-book of FAERY SWAP or THIRD DAUGHTER—winners choice--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 March 29th. Be sure to let me know which book you'd like. I’ll announce the winner on March 31st. 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’m interviewing debut author Elle Cosimano and giving away a copy of ELLE, her YA thriller I’m really looking forward to reading.

Wednesday next week I’ve got a guest post by MG Buehrlen and giveaway of her YA novel THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE about a girl who has visions of living in times in history. It’s another one I’m hoping to read and MG blogs at YA Book Central, a fantastic blog that helps promote authors and their books.

The following Monday I’m interviewing Maureen McQuerry and giving away a copy of her MG fantasy, BEYOND THE DOOR. It sounds really good and I hope to read it.

And Tuesday that week I’ll be participating in the Fool For Books Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great newly released YA choices and I’m going to add some of my favorite middle grade books as well for my middle grade book lovers.

And don’t forget Casey’s Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Crystal Collier said...

Love your advice, always, Susan. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and share your awesomeness. =)

Natalie, thank you for hosting her. Seriously!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Aw, thanks, Crystal!

Angela Brown said...

Susan has been a force to be reckoned with in the self-publishing sphere. I've enjoyed seeing her actively grow, reading her books and am learning a lot from what she shares online. Great interview Susan and Natalie :-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for all the great advice, Susan. As a fellow soon-to-be-indie-published author, I am grateful for your insight.

I love the description of Faery Swap. Definitely sounds like it will be a great read. :)

Patchi said...

I have the Third Daughter on my wish list, now I need to add Faery Swap too. I'm intrigued by the science/magic combo :)

Brenda said...

I like how you infuse your scientific/engineering background into your writing. Your trailers are also very well done, congratulations.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thank you, Angela! Having friends to share the ride is half the fun!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thank you, Anna! I hope you get a chance to read it. :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks so much for giving the books a try!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thank you, Brenda! I never thought I would enjoy the "mini movie making" that trailers are, but I do. It's funny how broad our interests can be when we let them go... :)

Cherie Reich said...

Susan is awesome! I'm reading her THIRD DAUGHTER right now and am enjoying it.

Kelly Polark said...

Great interview, ladies. I always love tips on marketing, and I am thankful Susan shares so much with the writing community.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Yay! Thanks for giving TD a try! :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I hope you find it helpful! :)

Unknown said...

Those two books sound great and I love magic books Orion Dreams was good but I bet this one of Magic Swap is better

Tyrean Martinson said...

I love Susan's Mindjack Trilogy and Third Daughter!!!
Thanks for all the great tips, and for sharing your writing journey, Susan!

Rosi said...

Great interview. It's inspiring to read about how people find their way on this journey of being a writer. Thanks for posting the interview.

Danielle H. said...

Your educational background is much like mine (I am also a former engineer, "retired" when we started our family). I have 3 daughters who love fantasy also. I would love to read Faery Swap and hope to win a copy. I will share on Facebook. Thank you for the giveaway!

DMS said...

What a fantastic interview! I have been wanting to read Faery Swap since I first heard of it and watched Susan talk about it in Youtube. It sounds like a book I will love. Thanks for the giveaway! Wishing Susan the best of luck. :)

Nicole said...

Ooh Third Daughter sounds great! Thanks for the interview, ladies.

Mary Preston said...

Such a great post thank you. FAERY SWAP looks wonderful.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thank you Nicole!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks so much, Jess! I hope you enjoy Faery Swap!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks for the share! And yay for mom-engineers! :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thank you Tyrean!

Donea Lee said...

Great interview! FAERY SWAP sounds like something I'd love to read, as an aspiring MG fantasy writer. Anything to do with Stonehenge also piques my interest. Congrats!! :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks Donea!

Sue said...

Faery Swamp sounds like so much fun!

Jocelyn Rish said...

Susan is so busy it makes my head spin! And it's so generous of her to offer advice to those who want to explore self publishing.