Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guest Post: Brinda Berry, Author

Today's post features an interview with author Brinda Berry. Brinda recently signed with publisher Etopia Press to publish her young adult novel The Waiting Booth.

Contest!
The first five commenters on this post will win a romance trading card from Brinda. At the end of the week, all commenters from Brinda's blog tour are eligible for the grand prize drawing of a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate. "Like" my Facebook page for an extra entry into the drawing! Be sure to note you "liked" my page in your comment so Brinda can add your extra entry. Official rules are here at Brinda's blog.


When did you make the decision to take a very serious, very focused attempt at becoming a published author?

I wrote a book over ten years ago and submitted queries to several agents and publishing houses. At the time, I thought I was serious about becoming a writer. After finally being offered a contract with a publisher who asked  me to pay them for publishing it, I declined. Yes, you read that correctly. PAY. And here we stop for a public safety announcement to unpublished writers: Never, ever, ever pay someone to publish your book.

I became very disillusioned and abandoned my goals. Now, I realize that I wasn't ready. I had not taken the time to learn enough about the publishing business and the art of creative writing.  I joined some organizations and  took my first online writing class in December of 2009. That was the real beginning for me.

How did you learn the craft of writing?

I majored in English and French in my undergraduate college degree. Some people assume that you must know how to write if you majored in English. Wrong! I could write a great expository essay or technical manual, but I needed to learn more about creative writing. I've taken quite a few online classes/workshops. It fits my busy schedule to do things online. Additionally, you must also be writing and practicing while you take classes. You learn by doing and having others critique your work.

How long did it take to write The Waiting Booth?

I started plotting The Waiting Booth during January 2010 when I took a class called Plotting Bootcamp sponsored by Roses Colored Glasses. It was a great online class taught by two prolific authors from my local RWA chapter. My story changed very little from what I plotted at that time. I worked on the book throughout 2010.

Tell us about the critique process you used. 

There are several stages. First, I use checklists to evaluate the work myself. There are even some nifty online tools you can use to check for things like word repetition and overuse.  Then, I submitted to a critique group and worked on what others told me were flaws. There is great value to having others point out the bad habits you have. Of course, you can never see these things on your own. Sometimes, you may even disagree with the suggestions that a fellow author may have.  It's always a valuable experience.

You've signed with Etopia Press. Tell us about the process you used to find and choose a publisher.

In early 2011, I participated in an online conference called DigiCon sponsored by SavvyAuthors.com. Prior to that point, I had targeted agents in hopes of contracting with a traditional publisher. I wanted to learn more about digital publishing because I could see the huge changes taking place in the world of booksellers. I read books on my iPad, and my husband has a Kindle. We are digital consumers. I was lucky enough to pitch to a couple of publishers during the DigiCon conference. I ended up with two contract offers. I was impressed with the quality of the writing published by Etopia Press. Also, the person who later became my content editor, Thalia Child, gave me frank and insightful advice about my story. I can't thank her enough.

Who's your favorite author and what do you admire most about him or her?

 It's a tie between the late Michael Crichton and Stephen King. I admire Michael Crichton's ability to weave a story plot that keeps me on the edge of my seat. I love Stephen King's character development that is very organic. I fall in love with his flawed characters- warts and all.

Lastly, how can we get our hands on The Waiting Booth?

The Waiting Booth can be purchased at the links below:


A missing boy, government agents, an interdimensional portal...

Mia has one goal for her senior year at Whispering Woods High—find her missing older brother. But when her science project reveals a portal into another dimension, she learns that travelers are moving in and out of her woods in the most alarming way and government agents Regulus and Arizona are policing their immigration. Mia’s drawn to the mysterious, aloof Regulus, but it’s no time for a crush. She needs to find out what they know about her brother, while the agents fight to save the world from viral contamination. But when Regulus reveals that he knows Mia’s secrets, she begins to wonder if there’s more going on than she thought...and if she was wrong to trust him...




Excerpt of The Waiting Booth

“Hi, Mr. Taylor. Mia here?” Austin entered without waiting to be invited in.

My dad stepped aside and looked up at me expectantly as I was taking the last few steps. I hoped that Austin wouldn’t breathe a word about what was on the pictures. I sure didn’t want my dad to be paranoid about leaving me alone during the week while he worked out of town.

“Dad, Austin’s helping me with my science project. Come on up.”

My dad had always liked Austin. If he ever found out that Austin had hit on me, that would change in a heartbeat. For crying out loud, I even thought about Austin like he was a brother. That he’d tried to kiss me sent the ick factor into the stratosphere.

We bounded up the stairs as quickly as possible without alerting my dad to some urgency in the air. I closed the door behind Austin and proceeded to move my computer mouse to bring the screen back in view.

Austin looked at the picture as he sat at my desk chair. “And this was the one at the end of your driveway?”

“Yeah,” I answered, hoping he would tell me he knew the guy, and he wasn’t some ax murderer roaming my woods.

“Pretty good pic,” Austin muttered. He clicked to zoom in on the face. “Still…it’s hard to make him out.”

“Do you recognize him or not?”

“Nope. Can’t say I know him. It’s not like I know everybody. It’s a big school. And he might not even be a college student. I can barely tell anything about the second person.” Austin clicked the forward and back buttons in the photo software program. “Why are they only in one frame?”

“I guess they’re really fast. I have the timer set to take a picture every six seconds after motion activation.”

He nodded. “Let’s go down and take a gander. Maybe they dropped something. Or maybe we can figure out why they were down there.”

Austin led the way out of my room while I covertly studied him. If I tried to forget that he was like a brother to me, I could see that he was good-looking. He was a little on the lanky side, and that made him look younger to most people. His dark hair always hung into his eyes, which made him seem a little derelict. His new sword tattoo covered about two inches of his right forearm. I had tried to talk him out of it, but he had grinned and said that I’d want one exactly like it.

He looked back at me as I stood there and smiled a I just caught you checking me out grin. I wasn’t really looking at him like that, but I felt myself blush and quickly found something else to focus on as I followed him out the door.

We left the house and took Austin’s car to the waiting booth. He drove an old black Jeep that was still minus the shell since the weather was warm enough. We jumped out to examine the area. On the same side of the drive as the wooden structure, saplings tangled with briars and brush as far as the eye could see. In the years before I was able to drive myself to school, my dad had kept the area fairly clean and bare with the aid of a tractor. Now, this area had become overgrown and weedy.

In the middle of the stalks of high grass, a circle of flattened brush marked where the people in the photo had been standing. “Holy cow, you’d really have to be dragging something heavy to make this dent in the ground.” I gasped, suspecting that the marks were new and the people in the photo had created them.

Austin walked around the flattened circle. “This is too weird. See how the grass swirls in a pattern? Maybe that dude had set something down here.”

“He wasn’t dragging anything in the picture. Maybe I need to look at it again.” I estimated the diameter of the circle to be about five feet across. I caught my breath as I felt a reverberating tickle pluck my spine like a tightly wound cello string. Avoiding the circle, I walked into the brush past it to see if I could find more evidence of the intruders. Nothing.

The weather had been fairly dry with no rain this month, but I bent to look for footprints. I started feeling silly, because even if I found footprints, I wouldn’t be able to tell anything from them. I shivered, trying to rid myself of the willies.

7 comments:

  1. So excited to see Brinda as a published author. Looking forward to reading the book. Thanks for the interview and the insights into becoming a writer.

    Here's to hoping you pen never runs out of ink. (or your computer never loses power. :) )

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  2. Hi Brinda
    I hope I can get to read the book this weekend (fingers cross so I can find the time)...
    You said you gave the book to fellow authors, but have you had beta readers too?

    Daniela.

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  3. Dusty- Thanks for stopping by to visit! I hope my computer keeps going and going and going- like the Energizer bunny. ;)

    Daniela- That's a great question. My sister was my sole beta reader, but she's slightly biased. I definitely need to investigate getting beta readers! Thanks for bringing that up. I hope you have a relaxing weekend with lots of free time to read. That's my favorite kind of weekend.

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  4. Sounds amazing, Brinda! I hope your career is long and interesting! Nice interview.

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  5. I already 'like' you Corey. Oh, and I'm so going to buy Brinda's book! :)

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  6. Hi Brinda,
    Great insights on your writing journey. For your critique process I am glad to know there are online tools available. I wasn't aware of them but they in addiction to other methods sounds quite handy.

    I'm looking forward to reading "The Waiting Booth". I was already lucky enough to win a trading card so no need to enter me for one. I received mine already and it looks great.

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  7. You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you with the Best Books Blog Award for all the hard work you do!

    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

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