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Happy Monday Everyone!

Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Jennifer Jenkins here to share about her YA fantasy NAMELESS that releases October 6, 2015. It sounds like a fantastic story with complex world building and a strong female protagonist.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thank you for having me!

I was never a strong reader in school and didn’t realize how much I LOVED books until after graduating from college with a degree in history. I read like a maniac and eventually found myself mentally changing book endings and thinking things like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if X character was in Y situation?” I wrote my first novel when no one else was looking. I felt like a fraud because I didn’t go to school for Creative Writing and really had no idea how to write a book. Those who’ve been in the industry a while refer to this lovely phase of denial as “closet writing.”

After finishing my first novel, I decided it was time to get serious, and began attending writing conferences, reading books on writing, etc. If this was something I loved and planned to devote a good portion of my time to, I wanted to know what the heck I was doing…

Progress Report: I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but with every word I put on the page, I see a little improvement. Perfection in writing is like the 3-D figure in a movie that appears to be only a few feet away, but no matter how hard you try, you’ll never capture the darn thing.

2. Well, you must be doing something right. Where did you get the idea for NAMELESS?

Probably the biggest inspiration for NAMELESS came from my desire to write a love story with a gigantic wall of conflict separating the main characters—something difficult to overcome but with the potential to be deep and meaningful.

3. I love that type of romance. Your story is about a pretty complicated world with four clans. What was your world building process like and how developed, in your mind at least, were the four clans?

Thanks for asking! I had a blast building the world of NAMELESS. The four clans featured in the book (the Wolf, the Ram, the Raven, and the Kodiak) were all inspired by some of my favorite cultures in history. I took a page from the brutal training methods of the Spartans, the ingenuity of the Navajo, the simple diplomacy of the Vikings, and the intimidation element of the Maori. This diverse mix of cultures was intended to form a hotbed of prejudice and clashing viewpoints. Writing in the world of NAMELESS is like eating dark chocolate while sitting on a freaky-awesome rollercoaster. Blissfully intense!

4. Awesome how you picked your clans. Zo sounds like a really complex character, especially her willingness to go on a suicide mission. Was she an easy character for you to develop or was some of her pain hard to write about?

Zo’s pain was very difficult to write. Just before starting NAMELESS, a family member who was
battling some pretty severe depression and anxiety came to live with me. This girl’s struggle was so very dark, and real, it was as though Zo literally stepped into my life.

In a way, writing Zo was my own kind of therapy. I needed to see this girl overcome impossible odds. I needed to see her fight back.

She did just that, and I’m happy to report that she is living a very happy, healthy life.

5. Glad your family member got through this. Your agent is Amy Jameson and your publisher is Month9Books. Share how you got your agent and why you chose a smaller press.

Amy Jameson is a rock star and has repped some big names in the publishing world. I found her because she worked with Shannon Hale and Jessica Day George (both awarding-winning, NYT bestsellers) and the project that I had at the time seemed to sit perfectly with other works she had represented. I queried her with fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyes crossed, praying she might see something worthwhile in my writing. The rest is history. The day she called me to offer representation is one of the highlights of my career, thus far.

My decision to publish with Month9Books was quite deliberate. I had a few other “bigger” fish on the line when I received my offer from M9B. I had the opportunity to talk with another author who worked with Georgia McBride at Month9Books and was impressed by the personal attention their authors received. I was also impressed with their aggressive marketing and publicity plans for NAMELESS. These were things I knew I wouldn’t receive as a mid-list title with a larger publishing house. I’ve been thrilled with the decision. Month9Books is taking the world by storm right now, and I’m honored to be along for the ride.

6. I've been impressed with the books Georgia has bought so far. That's great this is a good fit for you. I read on your website that you were at BEA and ALA. How did you set those appearances up and what advice do you have for others who might want to appear at either of these events?

I was fortunate enough to have Month9Books feature my book at both of these events, so they handled all of my appearances. (This is a glimpse into that marketing/promotion plan I alluded to in the previous question). Since the purpose of both BEA and ALA is to ignite interest among industry professionals (booksellers, bloggers, librarians, editors, agents, etc) and not necessarily the general public, I only recommend attending these two Cons if you have a publisher willing to feature your book.

As for appearing at other big conventions and conferences, most have websites with information advertising panel submissions and signing opportunities. I personally will not pay to sell my work at a booth, but will happily make the trip if the conference or con includes me in their program and offers to sell my book.

7. That's great how your publisher helped you with the conferences. What are your post-release marketing plans? Do you have any advice on this for other debut authors?

I have several events lined up just before and after the release. Once the dust settles, I’ll be doing a bit of traveling to promote the book as well as scheduling school and Skype visits with teachers and librarians.

8. You are also co-founder of Teen Author Boot Camp. It sounds fantastic from what I saw on your website. Tell us about it.

Imagine nearly 1000 teen writers packed into one building with their favorite authors for a day! It really is like Christmas for both the authors who present as “Drill Sergeants” as well as the teens. Huge names such as James Dashner, Brandon Sanderson, Ally Condie, Kiersten White, and more come to Utah every Spring to workshop with teens, teaching classes on various writing subjects. You can learn more about presenting and attending the teen-only conference at http://teenauthorbootcamp.com.

9. Wow! Your workshop sounds fantastic. Almost makes me wish I could go back to my teen age years. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on the third and final book in the NAMELESS series. I’m so happy with the way it’s all coming together and hope it will be a satisfying conclusion for my readers.

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

Instagram: @jenniferajenkins
Twitter: @authorjenkins

Jennifer has generously offered a copy of NAMELESS 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 October 17thIf 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. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

On Wednesday I have a guest post with debut author Kim Liggett and her agent Josh Adams with a query critique giveaway from Josh and a giveaway of Blood & Salt, Kim's YA fantasy.

Next Monday I have a guest post by long-time follower and debut author Carol Riggs and a giveaway of her YA science fiction THE BODY INSTITUTE.

Next Wednesday I'll be participating in the Spooktacular Book Giveaway Hop.

The following Monday I have a guest post by Gayle Rosengren and a giveaway of her middle grade historical COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats to Jennifer! So interesting that you weren't much of a reader until after college. Glad to hear you're having a great experience with Month9Books. So impressed with your leadership of the Teen Author Boot Camp too!

Eileen said...

I have heard so many great things about Nameless, I'm very excited to dive in! And Teen Author Boot Camp sounds really amazing! Thanks for sharing this :)

Joanne R. Fritz said...

NAMELESS sounds like an intense story. I'm not surprised Zo's pain was so difficult to write about.

Congratulations, Jennifer! Glad to hear it will be a trilogy.

Rosalyn said...

Jennifer moderated a panel I was on last spring and she was so nice and smart. I'm excited for her book to come out and hope it does well!

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like an intriguing complex story! Good luck with it :)

cleemckenzie said...

Great to learn about this new book, and congrats on the launch. I wonder if any of us really know what we're doing when we set out to write a book. It didn't take long for me to understand I knew so little. :-)

cleemckenzie said...

Great to learn about this new book, and congrats on the launch. I wonder if any of us really know what we're doing when we set out to write a book. It didn't take long for me to understand I knew so little. :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like her inspirations for the clans. That is quite the mix!

dolorah said...

Wow, that was an awesome success story for finding your agent and getting published. Awesome. Those clans sound intriguing.

Karen Lange said...

Natalie, thanks so much for featuring Jennifer today. I agree, she must be doing something right! Appreciated hearing a little of her story.

I'll pass on the giveaway. Wishing you, Jennifer, and your readers well with their writing endeavors!

Suzanne Warr said...

I admire and enjoy Georgia, so it's great to hear her work ethic and publishing company getting some love! Nameless sounds like a real treat, too, so no surprise they picked it up. Bravo, Jennifer, and best of luck as you prep for your launch!


Rosi said...

Great interview, as usual. Thanks for the post. Please let someone else win. My TBR pile totters dangerously.

Olivia said...

The story sounds awesome!

Beth said...

Great interview, and I love the sound of the Teen Author Boot Camp. I wish there'd been something like that when I was a teenager!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

A bigger press doesn't always mean bigger sales. And personal attention can go a long way.

erin said...

oooh... this looks and sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing and congrats to Jennifer on her new release :)

Kirsti Call said...

I'd love to read your book! It sounds intriguing!!!

Morgyn said...

What an inspiring story line & writer's journey.

Valerie Bodden said...

Great interview!This book sounds fantastic! valbodden(at)gmail(dot)com

E.G. Moore said...

NAMELESS sounds right up my alley, and I am going to add it to my GoodReads in case I don't win the giveaway. Thank you so much for offering it to us! emilygmoorewriter @yahoo.com

I have a question about your world building, Jennifer. Does religion/spirituality come into play? Are they different than your own belief system, and if so, how did you handle writing it?

Danielle H. said...

I've been seeing this book on other blogs too and it sounds so exciting! I must read this book. Thanks for the interview and giveaway. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/651462141728296964

Anonymous said...

I've been seeing this book around. Thanks for the giveaway!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Loved reading about Jennifer's publishing journey. Nameless sounds intriguing.

Unknown said...

I agree with Alex! I'll definitely be checking out this book :-)

Natasha said...

Nameless sounds like a great read!!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Great question! I don't spend a lot of time (in book 1) defining religious belief systems. I do, however, devote a lot of the book to challenging my characters' moral code--their sense of right and wrong. My goal was to force characters to see beyond race, religion, and circumstance and to find the individual underneath. My core values align with this principle quite nicely.

Liz Brooks said...

Ooh, this sounds super interesting. I love the idea of blending all those cultures, and I the idea of that deep dark depression sounds like something right up my alley. I also think it's super cool that Jennifer decided to go for a smaller publisher.

Thanks for the giveaway! I tweeted about it.