Today I am super excited to have Shelley Wilson with me on the blog. Shelley is a fellow Young Adult and non-fiction writer. She’s also a long time Bloggers Bash attendee.
I’m always sniffing around Shelley’s blog to see what Young Adult book she’s reviewed this week because I love her recommendations. But today, there’s something FAR more exciting.
Today she’s spilling the beans on her own new YA werewolf release Oathbeaker (out today) as well as giving us hot tips on writing Young Adult fiction. Which you can get here:
Without further ado, Shelley… Welcome.
You’ve written a LOT of books now, how has your process changed in that time?
Ha ha, I always said you’d never shut me up once I got going!
When I began piecing together my first book, which was non-fiction, I didn’t realise there was a ‘process,’ I just muddled along and hoped for the best. I probably stumbled about in the dark for my first couple of books before discovering a writing rhythm. I’m more disciplined now, and I’ve become a neurotic planner against the pantser writer I used to be.
What are the three best tricks tips or tools you’ve picked up in your writing career?
Many years ago I used to write my stories longhand into a notebook. Eventually, I realised this was one of the main reasons I never got past chapter four. I now write all my character bios, scene notes, and dialogue ideas into my notepad but type the manuscript directly onto the computer.
Post-it notes are a godsend! I’ve tried to use Scrivener, but it blows my mind, so I’ve returned to my trusty paper and pen. Having my book outlined as bullet points on bright little squares stuck to the office wall keeps me on track when I’m writing.
Finally, the best tip I’ve ever learned and the one thing that keeps me producing books at a reasonable rate is to churn out that first draft and not edit it. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) taught me that. I will re-read the last sentence before picking up the story again, but I refuse to read over the manuscript until it’s out of my head and on paper. I will also leave it a week or two before looking at it. Yes, I’ll cringe and cry over it when I finally dig it back out, but I can start re-writing with fresh eyes. I use this process with everything I write.
That’s a cracking blurb, something writers usually find hard. How’d you get so good (don’t say time) and what tips have you got for other writers doing theirs?
Aw, thank you for that, Sacha. I enjoy writing the book blurbs. I like to think of them as a piece of flash fiction. You get to tell an enticing tale in a short space of time, but instead of rounding off with a suitable ending you leave the reader wanting more. I normally have the blurb sorted before I start writing the book so I can use it as a guideline. It might need a little tweak or two, but most of the time I can work with it.
When I start working on a new project I do two things, I’ll create a mock up front cover, so I’ve got something visual to keep me motivated, and I’ll write the blurb. The best advice I can offer is to read a ton of book blurbs in your local bookshop and see which ones you feel drawn to and why. I like short, choppy blurbs that tease rather than a long overly-descriptive passage.
Best tip for a YA writer?
Don’t overanalyse the genre. I write YA fantasy which is a massive market and if I stopped to study the incredible authors in this genre for too long I’d chuck my work in the bin and give up! I read tons of YA, but I no longer do it as a ‘student’ of writing. I enjoy the story for what it is and marvel at the imagination of an author, but then I’ll create my own worlds, characters, and enjoy immersing myself in the story I generate. When I used to read YA with an analytical eye, I couldn’t lose myself in the fantasy, and so it became a chore rather than reading for pleasure. I do make a note of an outstanding piece of prose or dialogue I come across, but I’ve stopped getting hung up on the learning and merely trust my own voice.
It’s getting harder to keep up with trends and find our audiences. How do you reach your YA audience?
I’ve never bothered keeping up with trends. I’ll read a new release if I like the sound of the blurb, but quite often I’ll get to a book a year or two later than everyone else – it’s my ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ personality coming out ha ha. In that respect, our audience can also be found years after we’ve published. With YA especially, there is always a new generation coming along, and so a spot of targeted marketing might do the trick.
As I also write non-fiction for the mind, body, spirit genre, I knew I couldn’t bunch all my books together on social media and be effective with my marketing. I, therefore, started two business Facebook pages. The first is for my personal development blog where I also promote my non-fiction work, and the second is a dedicated site to my YA books.
I love this page and try to interact with my followers as often as time allows. Interestingly, the stats for my page followers show the age range to be between the 18-25 and 25-33 brackets and yet my books are aimed at 13+. Finding my target audience is an ongoing slog. I joined Instagram but as soon as I joined the kids went over to Snapchat, if I start ‘snapping’ then they’ll find something else – It’s exhausting! I’ve noticed that the majority of my sales have been from women (my age) who read my non-fiction but are intrigued by the covers of my fiction, buy it, read it, love it, and then pass it on to their kids. I guess I find my YA audience eventually then!
What’s your fave and least fave things about writing?
I love getting the germ of an idea and working with it until it becomes a full story with plot twist ideas, characters, and settings. The planning stage is one of my favourites because I’m living with the anticipation of what could be and that’s exciting.
I don’t have a least favourite part about writing unless you count too many ideas and not enough hours in the day! I love the entire process of creating, writing, and editing and relish the opportunity to create something from nothing.
Most random place you’ve written or gotten the urge to write
OMG I’m so boring!! The most random place I’ve ever written is sitting on the left side of the sofa instead of the right – see, I told you I was boring ha ha. I like it to be quiet when I’m writing so that romantic illusion of a coffee shop wouldn’t work for me, plus I’m too much of a people watcher to get any writing done.
As a fellow mega YA buff answer the following with YA books for answers:
A) Best YA series for a non-YA reader
Ooh, tough one! I’m going to stick with fantasy as I don’t do contemporary fiction, and I would probably suggest Fire and Flood (book 1) by Victoria Scott. Even though it’s got a great fantasy element the story is predominantly about family, loyalty, and friendship. The main character loves her mobile phone, adores fashion and sparkly nail polish, but then the book takes on a hunger games vibe. For a non-YA reader, it would ease them in gently to the whole alternative realm/weaponry/mythical creature storyline.
B) Can’t die without reading
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I’m obsessed with Cassandra’s books and devour them as soon as she releases a new one. Clockwork Angel was the start of her prequel series, The Dark Artifices, which incorporated her Shadowhunter characters with the historical elements of London in the late 1800s.
C) Best for a winter night
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. I think there’s something mystical and wintry about old libraries and so this would be a perfect choice.
D) Beach read
Nothing at all to do with sun, sand, and mocktails but I loved reading Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed trilogy when on holiday about five years ago. It’s about an ancient curse cast on two teens, Helen and Lucas, to loathe and love each other in equal measure. It’s all about the Gods and mythology – perfect for the beach.
E) Best series
Easy! My favourite series is Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments. Once I read City of Bones in 2007 I was hooked. Sometimes, you’ll get one or two books in a series that aren’t as good as the others but not with this – I loved all six books and went on to devour her Dark Artifices series.
F) Best romance line
Oh blimey! I don’t ‘do’ romance, so I tend to like the more quirky romantic scenes, as in the ones that aren’t at all romantic but could lead to something in the future. It’s the anticipation of romance that I prefer. A bit like this from Jana Oliver’s Forbidden (The Demon Trappers series).
‘Why are you doing this? Spending time with me, I mean. You could have just followed me and I would never have known you were there.’
‘I feel alive when I’m with you.’
She barely subdued the snort. ‘You’re an angel. You hang with God and all those other Divine guys. I’m just…me.’
Awesome thank you Shelley, that’s enough about YA in general, let’s hear about your new book…
How did it feel leaving behind your Guardians series and starting something new?
I was quite excited about starting a new project and had already begun making notes before the last book in the Guardians trilogy was finished. I knew how I wanted Amber’s story to end and it was quite emotional, so it was a nice break to jot down new character quirks and start scene setting for Oath Breaker. The transition from faeries to werewolves was fairly smooth!
Fave quote or line from your book?
I’m not sure this is my absolute favourite line, but I’m going to count it anyway. It’s certainly the most important from a writing perspective as it was the first thing that popped into my head fully formed. After I had jotted this scene in my notebook, the entire story and characters began to build in my head.
“Like something out of a macabre horror show the blood covered everything, coating the threadbare rug in front of the fireplace with its crimson wash. The splintered remains of the coffee table littered the overturned chair, and the smell of death clung to the walls.”
It moved around in the story for a while but finally ended up as part of the opening scene.
What called you to werewolves? Tell me a little about their society in your book.
As you know, I’m a huge fan of YA fantasy and supernatural books. I’ve read so many containing werewolves and vampires but never felt drawn to write about them. My Guardian series contains witches, faeries, demons, and dragons so I always thought I’d stick to these themes going forward. It was my daughter who prompted the inclusion of werewolves. I was helping her with her creative writing homework where she had to look at turning a well-known fairy tale into something else. (Ella is a fan of The Kardashians, and Zoella which means fairy tales are ‘not her thing’) I suggested that she turn Little Red Riding Hood into a werewolf hunter. She rolled her eyes in that typical fourteen-year-old way and dismissed my input, so I pounced on the idea instead. I’ve dedicated the book to Ella as she did help me brainstorm it!
The werewolves in Oath Breaker are a family of sorts, and this is how I wanted their society to be portrayed. Mia comes from a fractured home with a violent upbringing and so trust, loyalty, and friendship is alien to her. I wanted the wolves to have that unity and bond that family can provide.
Excerpt of ur book?
(The opening scene from Oath Breaker)
The blue flashing lights pulsed through the fractured front window, illuminating the blood splatter on the walls. The click-click of the forensic team’s camera ate into the sterile silence as the officers combed through the living room.
Like something out of a macabre horror show the blood covered everything, coating the threadbare rug in front of the fireplace with its crimson wash. The splintered remains of the coffee table littered the overturned chair, and the smell of death clung to the walls.
I lifted my eyes to look at the police officer who knelt in front of me, his face a mask of professionalism even though he must be wishing he was anywhere but here.
‘Did you see who killed your dad?’ I slowly shook my head as the officer tried to determine what had happened.
‘Someone tried to kill you, miss. I want to help. Did you see who broke in and attacked you?’
I couldn’t answer. The words were stuck in my throat. How could I tell him that my dad was the one who tried to kill me and that a wolf had jumped through the window and ripped out his throat? Who would believe me?
The paramedic dropped a medical kit at my feet and began wiping the blood from my face, the sudden cold of the antiseptic wipe causing an involuntary shudder to run through my bones. The police officer and paramedic exchanged a look. The same kind of look that my teacher and headmaster used to give each other when I tried to cover up the bruises down my arms.
I slumped a little further into the kitchen chair, letting my long dark hair fall around my face.
‘Anything you can give us by way of a description will help.’ The police officer clicked the end of his pen and poised it over the clean sheet of notepaper.
‘Big,’ I managed to say. My lips cracked as I spoke, and I could feel a trickle of blood slide down the side of my mouth. The paramedic wiped it up before moving to the gash on my forehead.
‘It…he was big. Dark hair. Brown eyes.’
The officer noted it down and let out a deep sigh. Not the best description for them to go on, but it was all I could give him. If I’d told him the attacker was hairy, with sharp claws and fangs, the paramedic would have had me committed. I didn’t need to escape from one prison to then find myself in another.
Available to buy from:
Publisher – http://www.BHCPress.com
Website – http://www.shelleywilsonauthor.co.uk
Oathbreaker Book Blurb
Will she follow the pack…
Or will she destroy them?
A dead mother.
A violent father.
A missing brother.
When Mia’s father is murdered, it’s her estranged uncle that comes to the rescue, but what he offers her in return for his help could be worse than the life she is leaving behind.
Taken to Hood Academy, a unique school deep in the forest, she discovers friendships, love, and the courage to stand on her own.
As she trains hard, Mia takes the oath that seals her future as a werewolf hunter, but not everyone wants Mia to succeed.
Screams in the night. Secret rooms. Hidden letters. Mia becomes an important piece in a game she doesn’t want to play.
Will the truth set her free, or will it destroy her?
More About Shelley Wilson
Shelley Wilson was born in Leeds but moved to the West Midlands when she was a youngster. She is a single mum to three teenagers, a fat goldfish and a crazy black cat called Luna. Her favourite things (apart from her children) are vampires, mythology, history, and pizza. Shelley is an avid reader and book blogger with a passion for Netflix marathon-binge watching sessions.
She divides her time between blogging and writing motivational non-fiction books for adults, and the fantasy worlds of her YA fiction.
Her non-fiction books combine lifestyle, motivation and self-help with a healthy dose of humour, and her YA novels combine myth, legend and fairy tales with a side order of demonic chaos. You can check out all Shelley’s books here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00G5KPMJI
Shelley can be found lurking on Twitter and Facebook all the time (she wishes to add procrastination to her favourite things list!)