Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you had a fantastic week. I had a great time in Texas helping my mother-in-law celebrate her 80th birthday. 

Today I'm excited to have Christina Farley here to help celebrate the release of BRAZEN, her final book in her YA multicultural fantasy series. This is a fantastic post that I hope you'll enjoy.

Here's a blurb of BRAZEN from Goodreads:

Sworn to an ancient god of darkness, Jae Hwa fights to gain her freedom and restore the balance of Korea… but first she must gain back the trust of her loved ones.

Jae Hwa Lee spent her sixteenth year in Seoul, trying to destroy the evil immortals who had been torturing her family for centuries. The last thing she expected was to be forced to become their assassin. Trapped in the darkest part of the Spirit World as a servant to the Korean god Kud, fighting to keep her humanity, and unable to contact her loved ones, Jae Hwa is slowly losing hope. Kud, god of darkness, will do anything to keep her as a pawn in his quest for power over all of Korea, her entire family thinks she’s dead, and Jae’s true love, Marc, believes she is lost to him forever.

When Kud sends Jae to find and steal the powerful Black Turtle orb, Jae sees an opportunity to break free and defeat Kud once and for all…but first she needs to regain Marc’s trust and work with him to vanquish the darkness that threatens to overwhelm Korea. There’s much to lose as Jae struggles to save the land she’s come to call home.

Now here's Christina!

Tips for Writing the World of Your Imagination

1.      Bridge your readers from the real world to a fantasy world:

With the Gilded series, I wrote about Korean mythology and set my story in South Korea, North Korea, and China. I knew that most of my readers would be teens living in North America.

So my challenge was:

How do I make my North American readers who have grown up with European myths and fairy tales be able to identify with myths and creatures that they have never heard before?

·         Used Familiar Settings: I decided to set the story at an international school where 50% of the population was American and the other 50% was from students around the world. International schools are run very much like American schools so I knew my readers would find that familiar and would ground them. Plus I was teaching at this one so I knew this setting inside and out!
·         Used Familiar Emotions: The protagonist in my story is Jae Hwa Lee. I honed in on her emotions of wanting to fit in and searching for her identity to connect my readers to her. Many teens today deal with these issues and can relate to Jae’s emotions and frustrations.
·         Used Familiar Traits: When developing the mythological creatures in my story, I gave each one human traits. One example is the Haechi who is perhaps my favorite character. In the legends, he’s the protector of Seoul, resembling a lion with dragon-like scales and horns. But I didn’t want him to be just a random protector. I wanted my readers to fall in love with this creature. So not only did I make him wise and strong like the legends, but I also sprinkled a little dry sense of humor and impatience, which are human traits.

2.      Craft a Unique Setting

The setting of your story should be unique, and yet, some of the most beautifully crafted YA fantasies
have been built using known civilizations.

Examples of these are:

·         Silver Phoenix and Serpentine by Cindy Pon (China)
·         Prophesy by Ellen Oh (Korea)
·         The Young Elites by Marie Lu (Renaisaance Italy)
·         Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Russia)
·         The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (Roman)

For the Gilded series, I used the ancient Korean culture from the Silla Dynasty to craft its fantasy elements. The architecture, dress, food, weaponry, landscape, everything in my fantasy world was historically accurate and pulled from that time period. I spent countless hours visiting museums, ancient palaces, and temples for my research. Lucky for me, I lived in Korea for eight years and was able to hit the subway to reach my destination whenever I needed it.

3.      Determine Your Rules and Stick to Them

I strongly recommend for all writers, especially fantasy writers, to keep a bible that denotes your world’s rules and all the details for these rules. This way, once you have made a rule, you’re able to keep track of what you’ve created since it’s critical you stick to that rule. Nothing will lose an author’s credibility faster than if they don’t follow their own rules.

Key Points to Remember:

·         Be consistent
·         Believable
·         Establish rules without info dump
·         Every rule has it’s antithesis
·         Without balance, you will have no mystery
·         Give your rules limitations

For more tips on writing fantasy, I’ve teamed up with some other authors who share their tips on writing fantasy. You can watch the video here.

Remember that only YOU can write YOUR world so remember to pour all that is unique and special about you into your story. Wishing you all the best as you write your fantasy novel!
For more tips on writing, visit my website here.

To learn more about this series, visit the Gilded Series website.

About the Author:
CHRISTINA FARLEY is the author of the Gilded series, a YA contemporary fantasy series set in Korea, and the upcoming MG, PRINCESS & THE PAGE, a contemporary fantasy set in France. GILDED was nominated for Korea’s 2014 Morning Calm, Ohio’s 2015 Buckeye award, and Tomes It List. As a child, she loved to explore, which later inspired her to jump on a plane and travel the world. Christina's adventures sparked her to write stories, infusing the real world with fantasy. Currently she writes from home in Clermont, FL with her husband and two sons—that is until the travel itch whisks her off to a new unknown.

Find Christina here:

Christina has generously offered a copy of the entire Gilded series to one winner. 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 November 7thIf your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have an interview with Laura Resau and a giveaway of her MG multicultural THE LIGHTENING QUEEN.

The Monday after that I'll have a guest post by debut author Ryan Dalton and a giveaway of his YA science fiction mystery THE YEAR OF LIGHTENING.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Karen Lange said...

Christina, thanks so much for these tips! Appreciate your insight. I especially like point 3. Wishing you well with your writing. :)

Natalie, thanks for the introduction to Christina. I'll pass on the giveaway this time around. Have a good week, all!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Great pointers for any writer especially a series--keeping a rule book of your world.
How cool you were able to visit museums in Korea and actually see different aspects of your chosen time period! For sure that is so much better than looking at a picture. :-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Greg Pattridge said...

Even though I don't write fantasy type stories, many of Christina's tips could work for other genres. Thanks for the insightful interview.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic tips. Great ways to bring in American readers to a foreign setting. Love that cover! Congrats to Christina. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

So much effort has to go into planning a fantasy story. The real world is complicated and detailed, and the fantasy world needs to be, too.

Christina Farley said...

Thank you so much Natalie and Casey for having me on your blog today. And thanks everyone for your kind words. I hope these tips can be helpful to you as your write!

Brenda said...

I'm going to pass on the giveaway, I still need to read the other books in the series. I do love all the tips, and foreign fantasy setting like those in Shadow and Bone and Winner's Curse were some of my favorite reads last year, will have to check on the other examples listed. Congrats to Christina, looking forward to hear more about her middle grade book set in France too.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Glad to hear you had a nice time in Texas, Natalie.

Helpful advice, Christina. I've always struggled with worldbuilding.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

There are so many unique cultures out there it would be simple to use one rather than make up something completely new.

Suzanne Warr said...

With my son in Seoul, I'm craving all things Korean, and this series sounds perfect for me! Perfect, I say. :D It's going on top of my TBR pile, and thank you for the recommend!

OH, and I've tweeted about the giveaway. Fingers crossed!

S.P. Bowers said...

Great suggestions for world building and your books sound fantastic!

dolorah said...

Fabulous tips of creating a unique world. It is really important to stick to the rules too. I get frustrated when an author breaks the rules to keep the MC alive.

Tanya G said...

Happy Birthday to your MIL! I hope you had a great time with family celebrating. Thanks for the chance!


Jemi Fraser said...

Excellent advice! I get so annoyed when I'm enjoying a book and the author suddenly breaks their own rules for convenience!!!

Jenni said...

I particularly liked your advice about grounding your reader and making a bible for your fantasy. Congrats, Christy, on your latest release!

mshatch said...

Brazen sounds very intriguing - especially the setting. Congratulations, Christy :)

Denise Covey said...

Hi Natalie and Christina! Brazen sounds like a well-thought out and crafted novel. I've never read anything set in North Korea, which I guess is because not many/any people can visit for research. I hope you do so well with this!

Penny said...

Thanks for the generous giveaway! The books sound great. email: penny dot olson at gmail dot com

Cynthia said...

I agree that familiarity in fantasy settings help connect the reader better to the story.

erin said...

sounds awesome! Congrats to Ms. Farley on her series! Thanks for sharing!

Debra (Feldman) Getts said...

Thank you for the detailed and concise worldbuilding tips. Congratulations on your YA series and anticipated MG release.

Rosi said...

Wonderful tips. The books sound like something my niece would be crazy for. Thanks for a chance to win.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I don't write this type of fiction, but these are wonderful tips for any kind of fiction. This sounds like an interesting series that the students i teach would like.

Danielle H. said...

Yes, great tips for writers. I know I have read some fantasy where the rules are inconsistent and it's very disappointing the me. Thanks for the post and giveaway. I LOVE the cover! I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/659081423320551424

Tyrean Martinson said...

Excellent tips about world-building and rules for fantasy writing! :)

Beth said...

Great advice, and congratulations to Christina!
(I'm neck-deep in books, so don't worry about entering me in the contest.)

Unknown said...

I loved the advice; it was very sound. Your series sounds very interesting and I appreciate you sharing with us (and giving us this wonderful chance to win). michelle_willms at yahoo dot com

Jessica Lawson said...

Great advice! Thanks to you and Lit Rambles for the post! (ps, love the cover and summary of Brazen!)

Rhi said...

Awesome advice and like the book's description. Thanks!

follow via email: rbarckhaus (at) gmail (dot) com

Tammy Theriault said...

Her advice is so extremely genuine. Love it

Anonymous said...

I loved the first book of this series! Excited to read the rest. :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful tips. I'd like to write more imaginative worlds. I'm not entering since I already have the first two books.

Crystal Collier said...

*waves at Christina* Our kids went to the same school this last year, and I laughed when I pulled up behind her car and the licence plate read, "Gilded." I definitely knew who I was going to run into. My 10 yr old daughter has loved her series so far.

*waves at Natalie*

M Pax said...

Glad you had fun in Texas. :) I've only changed planes there.

Good advice. Keeping track of details no matter what you write is a good idea. I love that I have an editor with a memory like a database too.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Natalie,

Thanks for featuring Christina today...

some amazing tips here... thanks so much Christina and all the best with our new novel!

Christina Farley said...

*waves back!* You made me laugh. Good thing I was behaving myself and not running any stop signs. ;-) And I'm so glad your daughter is liking the series! YAY!

Christina Farley said...

<3 <3 <3 <3

bison61 said...

great tips I like number 1 about how to Bridge your readers from the real world to a fantasy world

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Cherie Reich said...

Fantastic tips! I'd add: if you break a rule, then you'd better have an excellent reason to and an even better explanation. Of course, it's better to stay within the world rules.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for these wonderful tips Christina. Will bookmark this post and keep re-reading the tips. Love the cover of Brazen.

DMS said...

What an excellent cover! So great to hear the tips from Christina. Lots of awesome information and important things to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing. Wishing Christina the best of luck!

Unknown said...

I love Christina's cover! It's so beautifully rendered and exotic looking. Wishing her much success! :)

Natasha said...

This sounds like an amazing series!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Holly Letson said...

This series sounds absolutely wonderful, and this post makes me feel like I should read more of stories about other cultures. I do read alot of Japanese manga (in English), but I haven't read much about Korean culture.

GFC: Holly Letson

bookaholicholly at gmail dot com

Liz Brooks said...

This series looks very interesting. I like the idea of an international school setting, as I went to one for a couple years when I was little. I'll definitely have to add this series to my TBR. Thanks for the giveaway!