We have another wonderful author to share with you tonight. Yes, it's night time here, and oh so cold with temperatures dropping down to thirty below this week. I'm going to stay inside and throw an extra log on the fire....except for this Thursday, where I'll be out in the bush getting the cadets ready for the next three days on their winter expedition...you know, where you sleep out in a snowbank. 0-o
Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer?
Hi all. I’m an accidental author. I wrote my first book Unbreakable Love to show my son that I could finish something that was really hard for me and amazingly enough someone wanted to publish it. Crazy huh? After that, I just kept going. Now that sounds amazing!
Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?
I’m probably more like a part time writer, but if you take into consideration all the marketing time I do, I’m sure I work full time…when I’m not being mom! So if you give up those wasted hours you have left, you know, the ones between midnight and three AM, you could easily be a full-time writer!
Could you tell us a little about your novel?
Becoming Bryn is a twist on switching lives. Twin Sister’s Jesse and Bryn get in a tragic accident and Bryn dies(although we follow her into the observation room where she can see down on earth). Jesse awakes from a coma to find that everyone including Bryn’s gorgeous boyfriend thinks she is her sister. That’s when she has to choose which life she’ll live and if she can live with the consequences of her choice! The story is loaded with both tension and heart and honestly is one of my favorites.
Would you take us on a brief tour of your novel and the world you’ve created?
Jesse and Bryn’s world is much like yours. Of course there is family dynamics. Jesse also has a best friend named Ethan who stays with her despite the fact that she throws up on his tennis shoes, twice. The unique part of the book is the observation room. It is a place that you can go to get closure before you walk through the door to “move on.” Bryn spends time there and makes unlikely friends while watching her sister and parents back on earth. The room is long and narrow with a massive window. It sounds a little morbid, but there is a lot of humor and quirky little interactions that make this part of the story a lot of fun. Cool, I like that!
Where does the inspiration for your main character and story come from?
A news story from years ago. Perfect strangers were misidentified in a car accident. One day I was thinking about those families and what they must’ve gone through and I wondered, what if they were twins. How that affect their families and common friends. The drama was too tempting and Becoming Bryn was born. Ooh, I like that!
What do you think makes a good romance story?
When you have to overcome something really tough to be with the one that you love…and I’m a sucker for a really hot kiss!
How do you handle the emotional side of romance writing?
As a teen and young adult, I experienced all those emotions, love, rejection, conflict and according to my husband dated every guy in town. (He exaggerates) Hmmm, that might merit an experiment to see how he reacts. You know, for writing sake ;o) To write really good romance, I have to feel that longing, that pain, and the hopefulness that makes for a really great romantic story.
Which elements do you think are more important in this type of writing?
I think you and the reader have to know what makes a person tick and where the holes are in their life. These are the things that lead us to or away from love and drive many if not most of our decisions. If you don’t write a character that readers can connect with, the romance, no matter how well written will not feel real. Good point.
What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?
The message, while somewhere bouncing around in my head, developed more fully with the story. I wanted girls and women to see their beauty and ability to find happiness within themselves. These twins are teenagers and a lot of times I don’t think we recognize our sense of self at that age. All women have amazing things to offer and can find a sense of peace, with or without someone making them feel valued. For sure. Our focus in today's society is to seek approval outside of ourselves. We think we need others and things to make us happy, when in fact, our true happiness depends on none other than ourselves.
Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?
I work within a very vague outline. Most importantly, I start knowing my climactic moment and the general path to get there, but other than that, I do most of the prewriting mentally.
What is the time span in your novel, weeks, months, years?
It takes place between Halloween and New Year’s eve and each holiday plays into the story somehow.
How much research went into your story?
I researched the original case of the mistaken identity and also had to do some medical research about head trauma, but that was about it. The funny thing is a made up a cement truck company called Rock Solid and one day I drove by a cement truck with the name Rock Solid printed on the cab. That was a little freaky. Ha! Take that as a sign you're on the right track. In my novel Amethyst Eyes, I named one of the characters 'Grey Wolf', and later found that the town I picked as host for my story had a golf course named 'Grey Wolf'. It's awesome, isn't it?
How does this book differ from what you have written in the past?
It delved into the family relationships a lot more than my other books. I even address the topic of homelessness and adoption. Also, the story gets into how death affects people but not in a somber, depressing way. I lost my mother very young so I know how long that loss stays with a person and I wanted to address it in a YA format. After all, the best part of reading is seeing life and solutions for life through a character. We don't get over our loss, we learn to live with it.
How have the changes in present-day publishing impacted your schedule as a writer?
Publishing is a very competitive field now more than ever. I’ve had to learn how to be disciplined and still creative. I also started a mentoring group where I help ten teenage girls prepare to publish so they don’t have to go through the learning curve many of us authors face when we start out. It’s busy, gratifying, but very busy. Nice!
How do you handle marketing? Do you have a plan, a publicist or just take one day at a time?
I do most of it on my own. I feel responsible as the author of the work to get it out there. I have hired out some of the services. No one can do everything and I enjoy working with other creative people when my time or talents fall short of my needs. I'd like to know how those endeavors pan out! You'll have to get back to me.
My new cover for IN THE DYING LIGHT was created by a talented gentleman last month. I’ll give you a sneak peek below!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Plan on a journey and only do it for the love of storytelling and writing. Otherwise, pick a different hobby. It’ll make your life a lot easier. (Sorry, you askJ) All too often I come across authors who are literally overwhelmed by what the 'job' has become. It is so much than just writing, so if it is not for the right reasons...I agree with you!
Could you tell us what you’re working on now?
Sooo fun! In a couple months the second book in the Secret Keeper series (In the Dying Light) will come out. This is my first series and revolves around a unique paranormal concept. There is also an amazing love story woven in so watch for that. I’ve also begun another sort-of series called Five Days, Five Kisses. It deals with the lives of three recently graduated friends and has a fun rom-com feel to it. I hope to publish the first book this summer. Sounds like you have a busy schedule!
Blurb for Becoming Bryn:
For months, Jesse has been envious of her twin sister Bryn and even has a crush on Bryn’s gorgeous, popular boyfriend, Quinton. When Jesse awakens from a coma to learn that everyone thinks she IS Brin, the option of actually taking over her sister’s life is beyond tempting, but there’s a downside. She’d have to give up her relationship with Ethan, her best friend and the only person she trusts. Could she actually live s Brin for the rest of her life? And if her family and friends found out, would they ever forgive her?
A short excerpt from Becoming Bryn:
I never saw it coming. Below me in the driver’s seat, Jesse made this weak gasping noise and I heard it, but barely above the music and chaos. I figured she was surprised at all the people milling around, but then I felt the crushing blow that threw my body forward, breaking both my legs instantly. The searing pain didn’t last long. The second impact, the one from the cement truck, ripped my tattered body from the car and for a brief second I felt myself flung through the air. Then, I felt nothing. No light, no sound, no pain, and absolutely no thought. It was as if I disappeared even to myself.
I don’t know how long I was out, but I came to lying on an exquisitely comfortable bed. All around me soft, fuzzy blankets cocooned me and my head rested on a pillow, so light and feathery that it rivaled even the most comfortable pillow I’d ever slept on before. For a second I laid there, feeling calm and oddly relaxed. Then I remembered that I should be in pain, terrible, mind-numbing pain. I sat straight up, my back stiff like a board. I looked all around, frantically trying to understand where I was. The room was the same shade of bubble gum pink as my bedroom at home but everything else was wrong. Why was I here in this strange bed? Where was Jesse, where were the car and the screaming teenagers?
From the doorway, I heard a soft, nearly soundless rustling and then, out of nowhere, a woman appeared, filling the entire doorframe with her broad smile and gentle green eyes.
“It’s all right darling,” she said with a strong Southern accent “I’m here to help you through the transition.” I was getting more confused by the minute. She continued on undaunted. “My name is Maggie, and I’m here to answer any questions you might have.””
I glanced around the room again. Maggie had noiselessly crossed the floor, but we were all alone. I could tell Maggie was my best shot at figuring out what was going on.
“Where am I?” I asked, working fervently to subdue the sense of hysteria that kept trying push its way up.
Maggie reached out and lifted my chin with her fingers so that she could look me squarely in the eyes. I couldn’t feel her touch. Why couldn’t I feel her touch? Were my nerve endings damaged? Was I paralyzed?
“You moved on, honey,” she said. Her words came at me but I couldn’t absorb them; they didn’t make sense. What did she mean, I’d moved on, and how did she know anything about my life? Maggie’s chest rose and fell as if she’d taken a deep breath, as if she were shoring up for what she was about to do. I watched her in horror, suddenly understanding what her words meant, yet still needing her to finish.
“You’re dead, sweetheart,” she said gently but firmly, “You’re never going back to earth.””
I looked down at my body, my arms, my legs and suddenly realized why I felt no pain. My heart didn’t beat, my blood didn’t flow. I looked like me, but now I was different. I might as well have been a colored beam of light or a hologram. I was a whisper of my former self.
My hand went to my mouth in shock and then I dropped my hand, realizing I had reacted out of habit and I that I had no hand, at least not a solid one.
Maggie watched me calmly as I worked through the news. She had seen this before, I could tell. After a while, she asked me, “Do you want to see your family now?” I was stunned again. How could she know the questions that burned in my mind, but she did. I looked up at Maggie, feeling very small and unsure about anything. It seemed like a minute ago that I was flying, on top of the world and now… all I could muster was a simple nod yes.
Lovingly, Maggie reached out and took my hand, and although I couldn’t actually feel it, I found it comforting and followed her without protest.
“Where are we going?” I asked as we walked. Without turning around, I heard her response, “We’re going to the observation room, darlin’.”
Links to purchase Becoming Bryn
A couple of short reviews:
Becoming Bryn went to places I didn't expect. You want to laugh and cry and swoon (yes, very much swooning indeed... there was an excellent kiss... not telling you with WHO though!) and not be able to put the book down because of it.
The book is beautifully written very well done from start to finish. I ended up staying up super late till three in the morning reading, even had tears in my eyes because the end is just so amazing.
-Mandy Sickle, Reading Diaries
A little about Angela
Angela Carling was raised in Palm Springs California, but lives Arizona with her husband, three kids and five felines. After years of denial she finally admitted that she is a hopeless romantic which led her to write her first Young Adult book Unbreakable Love. Since then she’s published three more books, Shackled, Becoming Bryn and The Secret Keeper. Shackled won the silver IPGA award in 2012 and has been optioned as a screenplay. She always eats the frosting off her cake and leaves the rest, and can be caught singing in public bathrooms for the acoustics. When she’s not writing YA novels, she’s mentoring teen writers, making pizza with her family or dreaming of taking a nap, not necessarily in that order.
Links to connect with Angela