Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Author Bio Mad Libs, Going Dark in December (But you can still find me on Operation Awesome)

I'm in the homestretch on the second draft of my current WIP, and will be undertaking some newer writing projects in December, so The Writer Librarian will be going dark until New Year.

I'll still be on Operation Awesome every other Monday (December 15 and December 29) so feel free to find me there. And in the meantime, here's some Author Bio Mad Libs I borrowed from Operation Awesome's newest contributor, Wendy Nickel. 

 Step 1: Jot down a word or phrase for each of the descriptions below:

    Full name:
    Plural noun:
    Gerund (non-finite action verb, usually ending in -ing):
    College major:
    2-3 random letters:
    Famous author:

Step 2: Scroll down and fill in your answers in the author bio below!

(your name) is a (genre) author who has written about everything from (noun) to (adjective) (plural noun) and has won a (award) for his/her nonfiction book, "The (occupation)'s Guide to (gerund)." S/He lives in (state) with his/her family and (number) (adjective) (animal)s. S/He is a (college major) graduate of (2-3 random letters) and has enjoyed (gerund) in (place), (gerund) (beverage), and playing (sport) with his/her close friend and mentor, (famous author). S/He aspires to someday be the first full-time author to (verb) on the moon.

Here's mine (some is true, most is fiction):

Karen McCoy is a YA speculative fiction author who has written about everything from shoes to exciting eyes and has won a Darwin Award for her nonfiction book, "The Librarian's Guide to Playing." She lives in California with her family and five beastly goats. She is a Creative Writing graduate of WER and has enjoyed moving in bookstores, jogging lemonade, and playing golf with her close friend and mentor, Douglas Adams. She aspires to someday be the first full-time author to fly on the moon.

Happy December, everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

TAKEN BY STORM by Tamara Mataya

I featured Tamara Mataya last year, and I'm excited to announce that her new book, TAKEN BY STORM, will debut December 2.

Check out the pretty cover:

And here are Tamara's answers to some updated interview questions!

TAKEN BY STORM is a great title. Does it involve a peek at Malcolm and Jayne or will it showcase some newer characters?

Thank you! It's a new stand-alone. The blurb:

Leilani’s plan was simple: Return for her father’s wedding, housesit for the happy couple while they went on their honeymoon, then get the hell outta dodge. She’d thought the worst thing would be returning to the town she grew up in (and despised). She was wrong.

A flashflood hits the small town, stranding Firefighter, Ryan, and a few strangers at the local bar. Worst of all, Leilani, his old high school rival – and last night’s scorching one-night-stand – is one of the people stuck in the bar. With waters rising, they need to stick together and wait for rescue.

The power grid’s knocked out, and cell phones aren’t working.  When the others panic and leave, Leilani and Ryan are left alone in the dark. Fortunately, words aren’t necessary to keep the former rivals warm. But when they’re forced to leave their refuge, they must cooperate to navigate the flood ravaged town and reach safety.

Rising waters bring them closer together. Rising tempers might tear them apart.   

Definite intrigue! You write in multiple genres. What do you like most about each genre you write in, and what advice (if any) do you have for writers writing in multiple genres?

I like weaving serious issues into everything I write, but without being preachy about them. Bullying in The Best Laid Plans. Synaesthesia and coping in Just Breathe. Taken By Storm is based on what my town went through in the 2013 flash flood. Make Me (coming March 31/2015 from Random House) has two characters who have dealt with war torn countries and how those experiences have shaped them. I try to work substantive issues into everything I write.

Advice? You have to write what sells if you're looking at writing as a career. The book that got me my agent was an Urban Fantasy, but the market isn't looking at that from debut authors, so I switched focus to contemporary romance. There are books of our hearts that we need to write, but if you're looking at it from a career perspective, you have to look at what's selling. Or, bide your time until the market turns around. It always ebbs and flows. Will I write more spec fic? Damn right! But I have deals in contemporary romance right now. Writing in multiple genres can be tricky as well because you've got to focus on your brand. If you gain readers for a science fiction, those readers might not appreciate your sudden switch to erotic romance. My muse needs a bitch slap because I literally have ideas in all genres and categories. But, again, it's focusing on what's selling, and trying to keep to that brand.

Blending art and career is a really smart idea. I'm also interested in how you blend writing and library life. What are some of the challenges you face when managing your time?

My hours are part time and I have no kids. I'm lucky that way, in that I have more time to write. I don't know how many of my Critique Partners do it, especially those with multiple kids. They're frigging heroes in my book.

Mine too! Your Goodreads bio mentions that you are a musician with synaesthesia, which has been described as a merging of the senses. Does your music inform your writing, or vice versa?

It's a part of who I am, but I don't think one has much bearing on the other, except when it comes to listening to music while writing. If I haven't heard the song before, I can't write to it - I'm too focused on listening :)

Thanks Tamara, for another great interview!

To pre-order TAKEN BY STORM for yourself, feel free to click the link below:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I BELONG TO YOU by Lisa Renee Jones

Lisa Renee Jones is a New York Times bestselling author, and her new book, I BELONG TO YOU, the fifth in her Inside Out series, just came out yesterday! Have a look:


Being that person, that man is how I define myself, how I allow the rest of the world to define me as well. And now, with a terrible loss shredding me inside out and someone trying to destroy my family to punish me, control is more important than ever. It is everything. It is what I need. It is all I need. Or maybe I just need…her.

Here are Lisa's answers to some questions:

According to your website bio, your publishing journey began in 2007. How did you know that writing was something you wanted to pursue?

I did acting in some independent films when I was young and then started secretly doing that with some success again. But I owned a business and had teen kids. I grabbed a book one day and rediscovered my love of reading. I knew immediately that was my creative outlet.

Sounds like you've dabbled in a lot of creative mediums. I love the premise of I BELONG TO YOU, the fifth book in the Inside Out series. Where did the idea come from, and how did the characters develop as you wrote them?

I'd know what I BELONG TO YOU would be for a very long time. I'd just been waiting and leading everyone there. Everything starts with the journal found by Ella and given to Sara. And that idea came from a journal I found when auction hunting to pay the bills while waiting for my writing career to take off.

Fascinating. You also have a YouTube channel--what do you enjoy most about vlogging, and what have you learned from doing it?

It's been a fun thing for Diego and I to do together. Learning about lighting and editing and sound are challenges and a work in progress. But I learned Diego and I love trying these new things together. It's great to have a husband who shares these things so eagerly with me.

Indeed it is! The Inside Out series is currently in development for Cable TV. What advice, if any, do you have for authors considering television deals?

You need a good agent. The right agent who makes the right deals happen. I'm fortunate that I've had that through this process. Really, not one but two. I have a literary and film/tv agent and they are both very interactive with each other and me. I'm also fortunate that I'm involved with the producers and know what is happening. Often that just isn't the case. But AGENT. The right one/s. That's what is critical.

Excellent advice! Thanks, Lisa, for being interviewed!

To grab Lisa's books for yourself, click the links below:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

THE BURIED by Shelley Coriell

I was fortunate enough to meet Shelley at an RWA event in Arizona, and at a few subsequent writing conferences where she conducted workshops. Not only is she a great speaker, but her writing is fantastic. Her latest novel, THE BURIED, is the second in The Apostles series and available now (and it's also a contender for best Romantic Suspense of 2014 by RT Book Reviews!):

Secrets from the past.
Voices from the grave.
Because nothing stays buried forever...

Cypress Bend, Florida, is a small southern bayou town filled with long-buried secrets. It's also the home of successful, fiercely independent state prosecutor Grace Courtemanche, who's pulled into a world of terror and self-doubt when she receives a phone call from a young woman buried alive.

In a race to stop a revenge-seeking killer, Grace unearths skeletons from her past along with feelings for the one man she swore she'd never need again, Theodore "Hatch" Hatcher, a rootless, smooth-talking FBI crisis negotiator who's back in Cypress Bend to deal with a secret of his own.

Here are Shelley's answers to some questions:

According to your website bio, you used to write restaurant reviews. How did this segue into writing fiction, and can you tell us more about your path toward publication?

SHELL: A woefully practical writer, I knew that it was hard to make a living as a fiction writer, so I worked as a journalist for more than twenty years. My first job: covering high school sports at age sixteen for my local paper where I got paid $2 an inch. Since then I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, speechwriter, and when my kids came along, I picked up freelance work, including a cushy assignment as a restaurant reviewer for a national on-line entertainment guide.

And while I was paying my mortgage with non-fiction work, I’d spend early mornings and weekends writing fiction. It took me five manuscripts and five years before I got my first New York offer. There’s nothing sexy about my journey: Write. Edit. Repeat. (And show gratitude along the way!)

Gratitude is definitely important! 
THE BURIED has a great villain called The Gravedigger. How did the character come to you, and what suggestions do you have for making villains memorable? 

SHELL: As a child I had reoccurring nightmares about being buried alive. Horrible, huh? Makes a soul long for those anxiety dreams about forgetting your locker combination or showing up to work in your underwear. Writing THE BURIED and creating the Gravedigger was an exploration of one of my deepest terrors. But by tacking the fear through story, I controlled the terror and guaranteed myself happily ever after.

As for what makes a villain memorable, three things. The best villains are passionate and willing to die for their causes, 2) have some redeeming qualities that allow us to relate to them, and 3) are smart enough, strong enough, and motivated enough to battle our heroes and heroines.

It's great when we can confront fears through writing. And I loved the voice in your YA book, WELCOME CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE. What do you like most about writing YA, and how does it differ from crafting Romantic Suspense?

SHELL: All of my books feature relatively strong, independent women not afraid to speak their minds and live their truths, regardless of age. In YA, I love the raw truth and hope that defines the genre. Interestingly enough, crafting YA and romantic suspense is the same process. One character. One life-changing moment. One transformational journey.

So true! In your "Dream, Dare, Do" workshop, you offer some excellent tips on how to create an effective business plan. In your experience, what are the key advantages to having a business plan?  

SHELL: Crafting a business plan makes most of us better business owners. It forces us to think ahead, set goals, determine strategies, anticipate challenges, and define opportunities. Ultimately, business plans keep us on course and on fire about our writing. Here’s a simple business planning template for your readers.

Thanks for having me, Karen! Joy & Peace to you and your readers! 

And thank you, Shelley, especially for including the business plan template!

To grab THE BURIED for yourself, and its predecessor, THE BROKEN, click the links below:

And click here to get WELCOME CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reassessments, and an Author Interview Next Week

I've slowed down with blogging here for a bit because I'm in the final throes of revisions for my current WIP, and I'm devoting more time to building my craft through short stories, scripts, and other types of media.

I'm also taking some time to reassess the scope of this blog, especially after reading Jane Friedman's post, "What Should Authors Blog About?" It's made me rethink my platform and what I want to be saying with it.

As of now, I dabble in what Jane calls "The Literary Citizenship Model" because I'm interested in promoting authors and their books. Any part about my writing life, known as the "Behind the Scenes" model, has migrated to the group blog I'm a a part of, Operation Awesome.

As an example, here's some stuff I've posted over there in the past few months:

Plot Running Astray?

What's in Your Toolbox?

Edited Prose Falling Flat? Check Your Inner Critic

Lemonade from Lemons: Filling the Creative Well During Rough Periods

How All Work and No Play Kills a Manuscript

And author interviews will continue to be posted here. Stay tuned next Wednesday, when I'll be interviewing the awesomely talented Shelley Coriell.

Food for thought: Do you find author blogs useful? Do you think blogs will eventually be replaced with something else? 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

THE WHATNOT, by Stefan Bachmann

Back in 2012, I interviewed Stefan Bachmann about his debut novel, THE PECULIAR. I'm happy to report that the sequel, THE WHATNOT, just came out in paperback. Have a look:

"Oh, the Sly King, the Sly King, in his towers of ash and wind."  

Pikey Thomas doesn’t know how or why he can see the changeling girl. But there she is. Not in the cold, muddy London neighborhood where Pikey lives. Instead, she’s walking through the trees and snow of the enchanted Old Country or, later, racing through an opulent hall. She’s pale and small, and she has branches growing out of her head. Her name is Henrietta Kettle.

Pikey’s vision, it turns out, is worth something.Worth something to Hettie’s brother—a brave adventurer named Bartholomew Kettle. Worth something to the nobleman who protects him. And Pikey is not above bartering—Pikey will do almost anything to escape his past; he’ll do almost anything for a life worth living.

The faeries—save for a mysterious sylph and a mischievous cobble faery or two— have been chased out of London. They’ve all gone north. The army is heading north, too. So Pikey and Bartholomew follow, collecting information, piecing together clues, searching for the doorway that will lead them to Hettie. 

Here are Stefan's answers to some updated interview questions!

In our last interview, you were drafting the companion to THE PECULIAR, now available as THE WHATNOT. How has THE WHATNOT expanded on the world you've built?

It's basically twice the size. The world, not the page-count. The first book was set only in the steampunk-y, magic-infused England, and the second one is only partly there, and partly in the mysterious faery world, which I loved writing. I could go a little bit crazy. No rules. Curtained windows for eyes. Clocks that tell the mood of the house-mistress, instead of the time. It was fun.

Sounds amazing! Pikey Thomas is different from THE PECULIAR's protagonist, Bartholomew Kettle. Did Pikey come to you fully fleshed, or did you discover him as you wrote?

Characters are definitely the hardest for me to write, and in this book the characters (mostly Pikey and Bartholomew) came really slowly throughout the revision process. Pikey's pretty simple in some ways. He's a hardscrabble orphan who lives in constant peril after having one of his eyes tampered with by a faery, and under his rough exterior he's longing for a home and other people. I knew all that about him when I started the book, but sometimes my brain knows things and doesn't bother telling me, and so it can take ages for me to be able to consciously express them and bring it out in the book.

I'm the same way--some characters come fully formed, others are tougher to crack. 

You contributed a short story to THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES: 36 TALES BRIEF & SINISTER. What do you enjoy most about writing short stories? 

We each contributed 8 short stories! Cabinet of Curiosities ( is a fun side project that I do together with three author friends where we post an odd/creepy/whatever-we-want short story every week. We were not expecting it to be turned into a book at all, and I think what I love most about the project is just being able to get away from whatever longer thing I'm working on and write whatever comes to mind. I also think it's great practice for me. I've learned a ton about writing in general from doing these short stories.

Sounds like a great way to learn! Thanks, Stefan, for another excellent interview.

To grab THE PECULIAR and THE WHATNOT for yourself, click the links below:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Last year, I featured A.S. King's book REALITY BOY, which I loved. I was excited to meet her again at this year's American Library Association Conference, where I found out about her new book. The premise is knock-your-socks-off amazing:

Would you try to change the world if you thought it had no future?

Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities — but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way... until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions—and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying.

A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last—a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more.

And here are her answers to some updated questions:

GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE has one of the best openings I've ever read--I was immediately hooked. What is your process for building openings, and what, if anything, guides that process?

My openings come to me pretty organically and they guide the rest of the book, really. I hear a character in my head and I write down what they tell me to write down. In the case of Glory O'Brien, I was in a school in Omaha, Nebraska and I had to come up with something quickly to use an example of my own writing during a writing and revision workshop. What I wrote that day is still the prologue to the book. In many ways I finished the book because the students said, "That's mental! What happens next?" But why did that idea come to me--drinking a bat? The fast train? I have no idea. I just wrote the first thing that came to me and then went with it.

Sometimes that's the best way to go. You always create sly, witty characters that readers want to hang out with for tons of pages. If you could have lunch with one of your characters, who would it be and why? (And what would you have for lunch?)

This is such a super hard question. And thank you. I'm so glad you dig my characters. I'd love to meet a lot of my characters. But if I could have lunch with anyone from any one of my books, I'd have lunch with Gerald from Reality Boy. I think I just want to tell him that he's going to be all right one day and hug him. I want to be his hockey lady. :) We'd probably eat Chinese food right out of the cartons with plastic forks.

I'm so glad Gerald has a hockey lady, both in the book and in real life. In our last interview, you mentioned that your favorite book is usually the one you're working on. What about this book made it your favorite while writing it?

Wow! Now THAT'S a question. Because I'm two books into the future, I have no idea. I think I loved that I got to revisit my 2004 (unpublished) book WHY PEOPLE TAKE PICTURES and find out what happened to that main character, as sad as it might have been. I also probably liked the angle of Glory's narration--from the present and the future. Wow. This is such a hard question to answer. But you know what? I kinda think I liked being unapologetically real about the nature of Glory's question about what a woman really looks like in our society and what that question does to all of us. That same thing scared me sometimes too. But I think being scared of what one is writing is probably a good thing in the end. If we don't take risks in life and art, then we're just making products. I'm here for art. I know this makes me look weird, but much like Glory, I really don't care if I look weird as long as I'm me.

And we're certainly glad you're you. Thanks for another excellent interview!

To snatch GLORY O' BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE for yourself, click the button below:

And here are more books, in case you haven't read them yet: