Happy Valentine's Day guys!
Welcome to my stop on the Spread Some Indie Love
blog hop hosted by b00k r3vi3w Tours.
My Indie Author Valentine is:
~ * ~ * ~ Robyn Jones ~ * ~ * ~
She was kind enough to allow me to interview her in a conversational format. I'm also spotlighting her three novels - two of which I've read and loved (with links to my reviews included)!
I have a copy of her latest novel, SHADOW TOWN, which I am DYING to pick up and should have a review up for you very soon! :D
Now onto the good stuff!
First, please let me introduce you to Robyn Jones!
I'm the mom of two hardcore boys. My oldest trained me to be matter-of-fact, no frills. My youngest wants the whole singsongy sweet package. Thank goodness for reading and writing because they are my sanity makers.
I know life is all about the journey, that's why I like my fiction to be all about the destination. I want to be taken somewhere not here when I read, same goes with the stories I create. Thrills, chills, tears, and laughter, but there has to be something to hold on to at the end.
Connect with Robyn
Robyn's newest release ~ SHADOW TOWN
Title: Shadow Town
Series: Maggie Lane Chronicles #1
Author: Robyn Jones
Release Date: January 29th 2014
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
By day, nineteen-year-old Maggie Lane is property manager of Pearl Estates, a posh housing community owned by her father and occupied by Shadows. By night, she's a waitress at a local dive. When a girl at her night job disappears, she dives into Scooby mode. She might be able to handle a missing waitress on her own, but when a new Shadow moves in next door and turns her into a blushing, flirting, love-crazed girl, her need for answers unearths nightmares from her past and monsters of the here and now. It's possible her bad attitude might not be enough to carry her through.
New Adult paranormal romance SHADOW TOWN is the first novel in the Maggie Lane Chronicles.
Robyn's Touched Girl Series ~ Book One
Title: Soul Walker
Series: A Touched Girl Novel #1
Author: Robyn Jones
Release Date: December 9th 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
My Rating: 4.5 / 5
Read my review here
When five-year-old Anna Pierce is offered a chance to have nightmare-free nights for the small price of her voice, she jumps at it. Silence has to be better than all-consuming dreams about blood and death and fangy monsters. The bargain she strikes comes with a secondary benefit, visions of a person's future potential. The combination of visions and silence changes her very nature and soon she's diagnosed with autism. Twelve years of living in her head comes to a screeching halt the moment Peter Davis pulls her out of an icy river.
Her new life has her twirling, tiptoeing, and crashing through unfamiliar territory, one filled with a cranky grandma, a knocked up cousin, an unpleasant cousin, a bunch of mostly good vampires, and the boy who rescued her.
To top it all off, the deal she made at five is no more. Anna is expected to talk, to figure out her resurfacing nightmares, and to control her ever-growing powers. And she'd better get it done soon because if the good vamps want a piece of a living, breathing Touched girl, the evil ones simply want. They'll take Anna for their very own.
Robyn's Touched Girl Series ~ Book Two
Title: Soul Bender
Series: A Touched Girl Novel #2
Author: Robyn Jones
Release Date: March 11th 2013
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
My Rating: 5 / 5
Read my review here
How much can a soul take before it breaks?
Anna Pierce has a vampire boyfriend, a driver's license, real friends for the first time since she was five, and now she faces one of her biggest challenges, senior year at a mostly all girls Catholic high school. Sure, she's a member of the talking crowd now, but she'll never be like everyone else. How can she when the first of her kind has camped out in her dreams?
Little dead girl Emily decides Anna's destiny can wait no longer. It's time for this generation's Touched Girl to hunt. Trained in a virtual dream landscape to destroy all in her path, Anna must choose between her destiny, the one beat into her on a nightly basis and her legacy, the one instilled in her by her parents.
Along the way, old enemies remain dutifully obsessed, new foes lurk in the shadows, and odd Little Duckie Anna Pierce sets out to be social.
Q & A with Robyn Jones
Jennifer (Me): Thanks so much for emailing back and forth with me for this special interview. I've had a blast working on today's post with you!
First I'd like to ask have you ever had one of those story-creating moments where the outside world disappeared, but sadly the outside world involved something/someone important?
Robyn: There was this one time when my MC was in such a bind I had no idea how she was going to get out of it. I was working through the story problem as I drove my oldest boy the three blocks to school. Two miles later he finally chirped, "Uh, where are we going? Toys R Us?" We were headed straight for the mall and in the complete opposite direction of school. He sure let me drive a ways.
How about you Jennifer? Have you driven to Timbuktu because a horde of zombies had your MC completely surrounded?
Me: Not yet, lol. Your son was probably hoping you were taking him to Toys 'R Us instead of school!
I have had moments, though, where I'm so immersed in a book, my kids have had to yell my name to get my attention. Oops! >.<
Speaking of driving, what drives you to write and create stories?
Robyn: Oh, the yelling of my name. Have you seen the Family Guy commercial with the baby saying "Mom, Mum, Mommy..."? That's a weekly occurrence at my house.
Silence is my biggest motivator to write. There was a time in my life when I spent my days trying to reach my son with autism and talk to my then husband who was hard of hearing. I felt my words slowly turn into ghosts until I felt like a ghost. Before I disappeared completely, I started writing and everything I wanted to say, scream, and shout came out of me. It was glorious and addictive and it still is.
Me: Your answer is so eloquently put - I'm just blown away! Silence is the opposite of how many writers answer that question, and the way in which it influenced you to write is nothing short of amazing. I'm just one of many people who want to say thank you for your writing. We're so very thankful you didn't disappear.
Robyn: Thank you, Jennifer. Those are wonderful words. I have to smile at your question because Anna was years in the making. It started with a children's book I wrote for my son with autism. I had just returned from volunteering in his integrated Kindergarten class where all the typical kids hit me up with questions about Will. They wanted to understand his quirks.
I desperately wanted them to understand Will was amazing, that his autism made him amazing, it was actually his superhero power. So I wrote this terrible little story that made me cry my eyes out every time I read it. The boy's power was the ability to make people want to be better people.
Over time and the discovery of paranormal romance that idea turned into Anna's story, a girl whose visions of a person's future potential created a shell of silence and quirks.
Robyn: You are so right. Kids get to heart of the matter. I remember a few. "Why does he know how to draw so good already?" Will loved to draw. I showed him to use geometric shapes to make people, but he wouldn't let me continue the lesson, so all his people were a series of squares and rectangles. So cool looking.
Another kid asked how he knew his letters so well. Will could line the alphabet backwards by the time he was 1. They asked why he talks to himself. I told them that he remembers everything he sees in his shows so if he hears a familiar word, he acts out the entire scene.
I still have the superhero book. The last time I looked at it, I cried all over again! I'll spoof it up, add a story for my youngest so he's celebrated too, and then one day...always one day.
Me: Will does have superhero powers! I'm especially impressed with knowing the alphabet backwards - that's completely amazing. I would love to see your superhero book published one day after the sprucing.
In sixth grade we had to write a children's book, and I titled mine THE PEN AND THE PENGUIN, lol. It was about a penguin with writer's block whose pen came to life, and together, they wrote great stories. I can't seem to find it. Wish I still had it somewhere! I highly doubt you sucked - we are our own worst critic!
I've always wanted to know where the names for characters come from. In regards to not only your Touched Girl series but also your latest release, SHADOW TOWN, do the names come to you first or after their personalities and some action first? Where do you find inspiration for naming them?
Robyn: Oh my gosh, I love your children's book! That is so creative! I hope you find it...or possibly recreate it? I can already see it as a cartoon. And what an awesome title! The Pen and the Penguin.
It's hard for me to mold a story in my mind without the main characters' names set in stone, but the process of naming characters is like jumping on youtube and vowing to only watch a couple videos. I start researching regions, how prominent certain names were, symbolism, definitions, and then I forget who I'm even working on because I've found so many cool little factoids. Other times I go looking for the right sound (which sounds less time consuming...it's not).
How about you? Is it a fun process or do you labor over it like picking names for your kids?
A friend of mine is a total hick, her word, and wants me to write a story staring her and a bunch of hot hick guys. Four-wheeling, hunting, and beer are a must. I told her I don't know the first thing about writing a hick story. "You can throw in some vampires, Robyn." Still. Is there a genre that you can't see yourself ever writing?
Me: Aw, thanks, Robyn! Maybe I will try to recreate it.
I can see how it would be difficult to write without characters' names to work with. And getting distracted. That happens to me A LOT. ;) Have you ever changed a character's name later in the story with the feeling that another name seems to fit better?
Names just kind of pop into my head. There are some I'm drawn to, like Violet. That's a name I really love and am using for a zombie story. Picking my daughter's name was super easy - I named her after my mother - but my son's name we kind of agonized over. My husband and I made a deal where he would name our son since I named our daughter. I was slightly afraid with what he would come up with. But Jack is a fitting name, and my mom had a younger brother named Jackie, which is what we call Jack all the time. :)
I don't think I could write in the western genre or erotica. Kissing scenes make me blush let alone writing them! XD
What genre would you not want to write in? Zombies? ;)
Robyn: Funny girl. I do not see myself writing a zombie story any time soon. I can't swear off westerns. I might meet a hot cowboy and find some inspiration, which also means I can't swear off erotica either...I don't see myself writing historical romances. History was truly my worst subject in school unless we're talking art history, then I rocked at it...sort of. Not really, but I loved all the pictures.
Side note: Violet is a great name! Perfect for a zombie book. Oh, and you were very brave letting your husband choose. He could have gone with Anakin or Kirk. Lucky you.
Me: Jack probably would have liked Anakin. He asks me all the time why didn't I name him Jack Optimus Prime Darth Vader Donatello Ricketts. And all I can say is that it was WAY too long for the birth certificate.
A hot cowboy like Trace from Angela Scott's Zombie West Trilogy perhaps? I'd write a western just for him!
We've known each other for almost a year now. :) So I'm really curious as to when you began writing your latest book, SHADOW TOWN, and when it was ready to be published.
Robyn: You crack me up! Jack and John would be the best of friends! And I'm still thinking about Trace from your review...
I first started writing three and a half years ago. I was in such a rush to get all the words out I just kept going and going. A straight year of everything pouring out of me. Maggie fit squarely in the middle of that madness. In that time my outside world changed more than I could have predicted only I did predict it with the first book I wrote that I plan to keep hidden away on my computer. My marriage ended and I had to start over. So I had ten books, two kids, a car, and a couch.
It's taken me a few years to sort through all that, at least the books, kids, and starting over part. I've written books since then, but Anna and Maggie held me together through some of my darkest days. Going back through the stories and my early writing takes a lot of time, but those girls rock.
As far as when Shadow Town was ready to publish, I am like any artist...never. Seriously, hitting that publish button makes me dizzy.
Oops, 4 years ago. I can't believe that much time has gone by. John is five. Okay, I have to go have a freak out that he's not a baby anymore.
Me: Time sure does fly, and that's no joke. Unless you're a kid, and then it just DRAGS.
You've been through a lot these last few years, and it's a testament to your strength that you chose a healthy way to cope through your writing. With the serious amount of work it takes to write a book, can you share with us how you come to the decision to self-publish and what self-publishing entails?
Robyn: I tried the query route initially. The first rejection letter made me feel like the real deal. I was finally a writer! That glittery feeling only lasts so long. I was impatient and couldn't sit around anymore with these stories trapped in my computer.
I created my blog in November of 2012, hopped on Twitter and learned what TY, RT, and hashtags meant, and in December 2012, I published Soul Walker on Amazon. I had to do everything on a nothing budget. So that meant checking out books from the library on everything from editing to publishing and navigating social media.
You can find free formatting books on Amazon and Smashwords. Many newbie authors are scared of the formatting process, but I love that step. It's busy work, but a wonderful break from all the hard calls when editing and all the self-doubt in social media.
Goodreads helped me network and gain the confidence to start visiting other blogs. I had no idea what to expect, but making friends was the best surprise ever. I have miles to go as an indie author and so much to learn, but as a blogger I feel all cozy inside.
Me: You've already gone miles as an indie author with the work you've done - wow! I don't think many readers realize how much work besides writing goes into the publishing of a book for indie authors going it alone. I know I didn't realize you had done the formatting and editing yourself. How do you make the time to get what you want accomplished?
Robyn: Thank you, that's good stuff, Jennifer! Many toys made contact with my head through the writing, editing, and publishing of my books. I used to have actual hobbies before I fell in love with writing. I plan to have hobbies again...one day.
Me: I don't think those toys would have made it for long around me, lol.
Can you tell us a bit more about SHADOW TOWN?
Robyn: Through all the paranormal layers, SHADOW TOWN is the story about a girl who can't seem to give up on the idea that she deserves love. Maggie runs her dad's strange neighborhood, Pearl Estates. When a new resident moves in and threatens her resolve to stay away from him because he's a Shadow, her life careens out of control.
Me: I like the sound of Maggie already! What places would you like to set future stories in?
Robyn: Right off the bat a side character in the Maggie universe has to take a trip to Iowa. That novella is coming out later this year. I have my sights set on Central Oregon for a different story. Colorado and Indiana are high possibilities. What I really need is a real life trip across the states for research purposes.
Me: Only if I can go with you! :) I'm dying to go to Colorado and Oregon!
If you could be follow any author around for a day, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
Robyn: You know, after hearing Debbie Macomber talk at my library, I totally and completely love her. She doesn't even write my typical fare, but she is just so dang awesome. I'm surprised I didn't hug her. After her talk and book signing I read Starry Night. It was amazing. I'd follow her around like a puppy.
Me: I remember your review of Starry Night. It isn't a book I would have looked at twice otherwise, but your review made me want to read it. I added it to my TBR. How cool is it that she's such an awesome person you gave one of her books a try? I love it!
Wow, we've covered a lot today, Robyn! Thanks so much for being here! It's been so much fun I'm ready to do it all over again starting tomorrow! ;)
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