I'm not sure when Julie and I became friends. We've been in Kelley Armstrong's Online Writer's Group (OWG) for years. One instant message conversation turned into many, as well as mutual beta reading and a (stalled) collaboration. I was so thrilled to hear the news of her upcoming publication that an outsider would have thought that *I* was getting published, and I am proud that A Writer's Block is a stop on her promotional blog tour.
Hi Angela! Thanks so much for having me today. I’m not quite sure when we became friends either, but I’m glad it happened. The IM conversations, beta reading, encouragement and friendship have been so awesome over the last couple of years.
For the readers who will hopefully become your fans, tell us about your Into the West series.
Westward, Yo! is the first of six short stories in the Into the West series. They are about Jersey teenager Tina who’s life gets turned upside down when she has to move from her close by malls, easy shopping and typical teen life to ghost town Arizona. Seriously, the nearest mall is over an hour away. She’ll only survive if she can pursue her one outdoor passion… Horses. Fortunately a local ranch lets her come ride, and then her adventure really begins.
What makes Westward, Yo! different than other young adult books on the market today?
Well, I wrote it of course. LOL, oh you meant other than that? Okay. Westward, Yo! is a fast paced modern western with paranormal elements. I’m not aware of too many teen westerns out there right now and I like to think that I bring a different voice to modern westerns since I come from a fantasy, and horse background. Oh, and I asked one of my friends for help with this question. Allie O’Connor (horse trainer) says “the author is so awesome?”
I know you've got a lot on your plate in addition to the Into the West Series. Tell us what's happening in your writing world.
Into the West has six short stories, due monthly. By itself that is more than enough. I also have a young adult Urban Fantasy called Senior Year Bites, coming out this summer and a young adult fantasy Arabian Dreams due out August 1st. Edits for those projects are keeping me busy. I’m also hard at work on the sequels to both of those novels.
A Writer's Block is about books--not just the ones I plug, but also my journey in getting (or not getting) published. Tell us about your road to publication from idea to...well, today! Meaning go beyond your acceptance letter to the steps that came after.
Well, the first part took years of writing, querying agents, writing more, sending out more queries, almost giving up a few times, rinse and repeat. Finally, on a whim, I queried too publishers directly at about the same time. I had one acceptance phone call and one acceptance email within a month of those queries. I was shocked. True, they are small press, but there are distinct advantages to small press. That is another blog post.
Once I got the contracts signed there was a bit of waiting, some edits on Arabian Dreams, more editing, learning to market, getting my name out there, and writing. Then Echelon Press, the publisher for Arabian Dreams, sent out an email about a short story concept. I immediately volunteered. That turned all my plans on their heads. Now I have to write short stories, and edit, and write my next novels, and I have some very tight deadlines. All of this on top of working the day job of course. Honestly it has taken a huge sacrifice of my free time, even more so than before, to keep up. All I do is write and work and sleep and play with my dog. Occasionally I make time for my friends, but that is pretty rare right now. It is completely worth it though.
So that’s what it’s like… lots of hard work J
The internet is full of advice for writers. Some we can use, and a lot we'll twist ourselves into knots over until we realize it doesn't work for us. What's the worst advice you've gotten?
The worst advice I ever got was “write what you know.” Followed by the other worst bit of advice, “stories don’t need fantasy to be interesting.”
Unless there are a lot more vampires, elves, wizards, and unicorns out there than I thought, writing what you know is crap. I’m not saying don’t do your research, but if you’re writing about horses traveling to other worlds, unless you have my horse, you’re gonna have a hard time experiencing it before you write about it. (No, you can’t have her) And damn it, yes it does have to have fantasy in it to be interesting. To me. There aren’t many books without fantastical elements in it that will keep my attention for long. Or even get me to pick it up in the first place.
Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. You can find out more at her website: www.writerjacampbell.com
Into the West #1, Westward, Yo!Tina Harker is a typical teenager. She loves hanging with her friends at the malls, shoes, and manicures. More than that, she loves horses. Life is everything she wants it to be, until her father packs their family up and drags them across the world to Arizona. Does he really think she’ll be happy living in a ghost town in the middle of the desert? It’s a million miles to the nearest shopping center, not even a real mall. Her only hope for survival is finding a new horse.
Trying to make the best of her horrible situation, Tina agrees to go on her first cattle drive. When one of the calves wanders off, Tina, in true cowgirl fashion and looking for excitement, rides off to rescue the poor little thing and gets a lot more adventure than she ever expected. A cowboy she’s never met accuses her of stealing cows, bandits kidnap her, and that’s not even the exciting part.
Into The West #1 Westward, Yo! Is available here:OmniLit
Barnes and Noble