Saturday, April 22, 2017

Now Accepting Books for Review!

The wait is finally over! I turned in my last homework assignment of my college career yesterday!! Still adjusting and learning to enjoy my newfound freedom on my days off. Since I will have free time to read, I have decided to open Aspiring Joy up again for book reviews. The tab that says Submissions is where you will want to look. I'm really looking forward to working with awesome individuals who have decided to share their stories with the world!! 

All genres will be considered, although I do reserve the right to decline a submission. If I feel your book is not right for Aspiring Joy, I will work with you to find another way to promote your book or you as an author.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Interview with author Lewis Buzbee

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lewis Buzbee, author and teacher of creative writing. He gave me some practical answers for aspiring authors like myself.

I’ve always been curious about how much research to do before starting a new project. In the past, I would come up with an idea and research a little as I was writing. Right now I know I want to write a book with dragons as a main focal point, but I know I will need to do much research before starting a story about them. I asked Mr. Buzbee how he approaches doing research. He stated it usually takes him about six months to complete his research.  “Reading, taking notes, visiting places I can visit, talking to people, calling and writing people. And of course, lots and lots of staring out the window.”  I think a lot of aspiring authors might ignore the research step like I did when I first started. Knowing your setting, or talking to someone who has a career that your character will have is only going to enhance your story.

Most writers dream of seeing their book on a shelf of a bookstore, but we know it’s a long process to get there. Agents are one step of that process. I asked Mr. Buzbee what tips he would give for finding one, as the market is flooded with aspiring authors. “You have to be able to be patient with the search, willing to go 50 or 60 agents in order to find the right one. And you have to have faith in what you’ve written.” His main advice, though, “Write a really good book. And by that I mean, don’t get impatient. When you think, oh, it’s good enough, it’s not. Good enough isn’t. It has to be better than that.” To reach that level of better than good he suggested leaving the story for a while and coming back to it a month later and be ready to write a new draft.

I’ve been learning from asking different authors that the dream of writing full time, going to your computer or notebook every day with a cup of coffee, letting your words ooze out as a shelf with all your novels looks down on you, isn’t a realistic dream.  Being an author, and a good one at that, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a full time author. If you dream of becoming a J. K. Rowling, simply for the money, odds are you’re writing for the wrong reasons. “You should write books because you must write these books.” Getting lost in writing is one of the most unique experiences I have ever experienced.  “But also a reminder that writers write books because they love writing.” Being realistic about what to expect is great, but also don’t lose the fact that you’re doing it because you love it!

Have you considered self-publishing? I have, and wondered if it is worth all the time and effort.  “To be a successful self-published writer, that is, to sell more copies than just for your friends and families, well, that takes an entrepreneurial spirit, and some time and some money.” There are so many aspects of the publishing world you would need to know thoroughly if you wanted to be a successful self-published author. “If you want the book out there you will need to think of yourself as a publisher, and be willing to do all that work that mainstream publishers do on behalf of their writers.” This includes hiring a good editor, copy editor, cover image designer, and an interior designer of the book. Of course you can upload it to Amazon no problem, but if you want to have more than just family read it, it’s going to take a lot of effort.

For first time writers Mr. Buzbee explains that completing that first draft is the best starting point. “A writer doesn’t really know what a novel is until they’ve finished that draft—you learn by the writing of it.” I can totally relate to this statement! When I wrote my first novel, I had no idea what I was getting into. It helped me learn what being a writer really means, just by making myself finish that story. “Write 4 to 5 days a week, for at least 2 to 3 hours a day, until you’re done, and don’t let your social or work life get in the way. Writing a novel requires sacrifices, but the rewards are so worth it.” Learning how to edit your work is key as well. You want to present a polished manuscript to an agent or when you self-publish. “Learn your craft, study it diligently.” Taking the time to learn how to edit is just as key as learning how to write.

There is no shortcut for becoming an author. If it really is a dream you have, then expect to give it time, lots of time. “You should expect to give it five years of hard work before anything comes together. Be willing to go ten before anything happens. Be a writer first, then worry about being an author.” Enjoying the process is a part of that though!  All of that work and time will pay off. Mr. Buzbee explained to me how seeing his stories published feels, “I was 20 and sold a short story to a really good magazine, and there it was, a few months later, in print! Even now, forty years later, whenever I have a new book out, or new story, the thrill is still there.” 

About Lewis Buzbee

Lewis Buzbee is a fourth generation California native. He began writing in 1972, at the upripe age of 15, after reading the first chapter of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and unfortunately, things haven't improved since then. He sold his first two short stories in 1979 and has been published, and unpublished, since then. He's worked as, in this order, a dishwasher, a bookseller, a publisher, a caterer, a bartender, and a teacher of writing. He and his wife, the poet Julie Bruck, live with their daughter Maddy in San Francisco, just half a block from Golden Gate Park. His books for adults include The Yellow Lighted Bookshop, Fliegelman's Desire, After the Gold Rush, and First to Leave Before the Sun.

His first novel for middle grade readers, Steinbeck's Ghost, was published in 2008 by Feiwel and Friends and was selected for these honors: a Smithsonian Notable Book, a Northern California Book Award Nominee, the Northern California Independent Booksellers' Association Children's Book of the Year, and the California Library Association's John and Patricia Beatty Award.

His second middle-grade novel, The Haunting of Charles Dickens, won the Northern California Book Award, was nominated for an Edgar Award, and was chosen as a Judy Lopez Memorial Award honor book.

His new middle grade novel, Bridge of Time, is now out in paperback, and a new nonfiction book, Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom, has just been released.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Interview with author Tayna Huff

In my senior seminar class, we are focusing on different types of English degrees. We were asked to interview someone in an English profession that we might want to enter. I took the opportunity to ask a published author, Tayna Huff, some questions about what it's like to earn a living from writing fiction.

1.How difficult is it to enter the market as a new writer?

 In all honesty, I have no real idea. I've been in the business for over 30 years so it's not something I pay attention to. From what I've heard, I'm fairly confident in saying it's a lot harder now than it was if you're talking traditional publishing -- there are significantly fewer traditional publishers -- and a lot easier if you're self-publishing. Back in my day, you know, when we used cuniform on wax tablets, self-publishing go less than no respect. Now, it's a viable option.

2. Did you get an agent before having a publisher?

I sold two short stories and my first book -- CHILD OF THE GROVE -- without an agent. With the offer for CHILD in hand, I called a friend who was two published books ahead of me and asked who was representing her. He wasn't taking new clients but as he worked for The Scott Meredith Agency at the time, he recommended me to another of the agents at the agency. Then that agent left. Then my next agent left. Then I was moved to Joshua Bilmes and I've been with him ever since. When he left Scott Meredith to start his own agency, I went with him. But, again, that was thirty years ago. I doubt that these days any of the larger publishers will look at an unagented manuscript. Could be wrong...

3. How long did the process take to go from writing the story to seeing it on the shelf?

I starting writing CHILD OF THE GROVE in 1982 in an entirely boring Television Tech lecture, finished it in 1984, sent it out once to be rejected and sold it to DAW in 1986. It came out in 1988. The only thing I remember about the short sorties was that I started Third Time Lucky on vacation in Cuba in '82 and although I sold it to Amazing before I sold What Little Girls are Made Of to Andre Norton's Magic in Ithkar 3, Little Girls came out first.

4. Are you able to write full time now or is writing been a side job?

I've been writing full time since 1991. Mind you, in order to do it we had to move out of the city to the country where the cost of living was significantly less.

5. What advice would you give to someone who wants to write professionally?

Read. Read a lot. Live a life. Learn to do a lot of things. Develop self-confidence and a thick skin. Learn the rules of grammar so you can break them consciously when needed. Figure out what story you're telling. Learn to enjoy the process because there's a lot of processes. Learn to budget. Don't expect to be able to do it full time -- some of us do, most don't. Most importantly, write. Too many people want to have written rather than put the work in.

6. What is the hardest part of the writing/publishing process and how do you overcome it?

Self-promotion is hard. And most of us hate it. If we were good with people and promotion, we'd be performers. Pre-social media, a writer did minimal marketing but now, we have to keep our name out there and remember that everything we do can reflect sales.

7. How do you overcome writer's block?

If I'm blocked, I first look to make sure I haven't written myself into a corner that my subconscious noticed before my conscious.  In THE FIRE'S STONE once I went back and fixed a problem in chapter three the rest of the book was clear sailing -- unfortunately, it took me six weeks to get to that point. Sometimes, though, all I can do is keep writing, wear away at the block one word at a time like a constant drop of water against stone. Sometimes, I apply ice cream which doesn't actually help but I feel better about things.

8. How much say do you have over the cover of your books and the editing?

I have more say now than I did but I've always had some say, especially in the editing. In CHILD I had Dwarfs changed back to Dwarves and that was my first book. In the latest Peacekeeper books, I was asked what I saw on the cover and on An Ancient Peace I asked to have a character repainted because he looked like Rocket Raccoon. Because DAW is wonderful, it was repainted. They didn't have to. First edits are always talked over with my editor. She tells me what she'd like to see to make the book better then we discuss how (or if) that can be done. Sometimes I capitulate, sometimes she does, mostly we meet in the middle. She's good at her job and I trust her. When I do my final pass on the manuscript, after the copy edits, if I see a section that doesn't work, I check to see if it doesn't work because I wrote it badly or because of the way it was changed in edits. If the former, I grovel to get it changed, if the later, I change it back.

9. What is the best part of being a published author?

The best part of being a published author is making my living doing something I'd do anyway. And working in PJs doesn't hurt...

10. What is your least favorite part about being a published author?

My least favorite part links back to question six -- the marketing, no doubt about it.

About Tayna Huff

Tanya Sue Huff (born 1957) is a Canadian fantasy author. Her stories have been published since the late 1980s, including five fantasy series and one science fiction series. One of these, her Blood Books series, featuring detective Vicki Nelson, was adapted for television under the title Blood Ties. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

SOME KIND OF MAGIC Release Blitz with a $50 GC GIVEAWAY!!


"An amazing first novel." —Sydney Landon, New York Times bestselling author

In this sparkling debut novel, Mary Ann Marlowe introduces a hapless scientist who's swept off her feet by a rock star—but is it love or just a chemical reaction?...
Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed.

Suddenly Eden, who's more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn't being honest. She can't bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn.

Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.

Some Kind of Magic: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Some Kind of Magic is Mary Ann Marlowe’s first novel. When not writing, she works by day as a computer programmer/DBA. She spent ten years as a university-level French professor, and her resume includes stints as an au pair in Calais, a hotel intern in Paris, a German tutor, a college radio disc jockey, and a webmaster for several online musician fandoms, plus she has a second-degree black belt. She has lived in twelve states and three countries and loves to travel. She now lives in central Virginia where she is hard at work on her second novel. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at, Facebook, and Twitter.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
One winner will receive a $50 Amazon OR Book Depository Gift Card (International). Three winners will win a signed copy of SOME KIND OF MAGIC (US only).
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Year, New Me

This is it! My last semester of college. To be honest, I've questioned before if I would ever reach this point. I can't even begin to explain how proud I am of myself for making it this far!

Last semester I took a fiction writing class, something I was greatly looking forward too. I had not attempted to write fiction for years and wondered if maybe it was a fluke I wrote a novel at all. My ideas took flight, though, and I found a renewed love for writing. I have a new idea I'm so excited about, and even with work and the school still, I want to begin working on it. 

It also blows my mind that at some point this year I could have a job writing and living in a new city and making a new path for myself. Last year I took back my mental health and it was the best decision I ever made. This year I plan to tackle a lot; writing a new novel, taking care of my health, and entering the professional world.