Mara Valderran, author of Heirs of War series, was kind enough to stop by during her busy release tour for Crown Of Flames, the follow up to Heirs of War Book One. After reading her honest and helpful answers about writing and her approach, check out the Crown of Flames and be sure to visit the other blogs hosting her release. There are more interviews and excerpts from her book
So Mara, are you a panster or a plotter? How do you approach a new idea?
I am a bit of both. My writing style used to be complete pantser, but after going back and doing several rewrites to make sure timelines were correct and fixing other continuity mistakes, I’ve adopted a bit of a mixture. I tend to sit down and plot everything out, including a general timeline, make sure it works with what’s already happened in the series, and then write. Sometimes the scenes change depending on where the characters take me that day, but I like to at least know where they are heading.
What is the most difficult aspect about being a writer? How do you stay so organized?
Mara: I’d say marketing is the most difficult aspect about being a writer. I love writing, and I can promote the heck out of someone else. But it still feels awkward to promote my work or to boast about it any way. And marketing is constantly changing. What works today might not work next week.
How do I stay organized? I actually had another writer ask me this same question recently, followed up with “Are you part fairy?” and the answer is yes. 😉 I’d say that staying organized comes pretty easy to me. I love lists and spreadsheets, and especially To Do lists. I usually have a running To Do list in my head each day, and I do tend to focus on one project at a time. Today, I am working on my blog tour and blog posts for other tours I’m hosting. Tomorrow, I’ll work on the story bible for Heirs of War. This weekend, I’ll go through the first round of edits my editor just sent me. I find that when I focus on one task at a time, I get a lot more accomplished and I don’t feel so overwhelmed.
What are your top three nuggets of wisdom you would like to share with unpublished writers?
The first: Write what you love, not what you think will sell. If you are passionate about something, it can ignite the same passion in a reader, which is absolutely thrilling each and every time. Connecting with someone on that level with something that is so personal to you that they love so enthusiastically is one of the best feelings in the world.
The second: Always keep an open mind when you get notes from your editor or critique partner. Be willing to laugh at yourself instead of feeling shame for any of the mistakes you might make. My editor isn’t afraid to poke fun at me for some of the silly things I do, like getting too happy with exclamation points or having tears escape eyes (Run for freedom, tears!!), and it makes editing so much fun. Your editor isn’t out to get you, I promise. They want to make you better, and they see the potential there better than anyone else might.
The third: Network like crazy. Don’t have a published work yet? Who cares. Networking is something you should be doing now. Make friends in the writerly community. Build your support system, and be a support system for others. That’s one of the most awesome things about the online writing community I’ve experienced. I have friends—genuine, real friends—that I’ve never even met in person, but mean the world to me now. They’ve impacted my life on so many levels. And ya know what? When it comes time to market my books, they are all over it. It’s amazing. (Note: Do make sure you build real relationships, though. Don’t just look for people you can get something from. That’ll get you nowhere but lonely. And be on the lookout for people who are looking at you like that too. Sad, but true.)
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
This might be a given, but writing new stuff. It might be for a series, or just something random I come up with that I might want to get back to later. But I love the feeling of writing something new, of discovering new characters or new things about my characters, exploring my worlds further, or coming up with an entirely new world and story. I can always tell when I’ve been focusing on the grunt work of writing too much because I start to get really antsy to write something new, and when I do, it’s like a vacation from all the work I’ve been doing behind the scenes on my books. Love it!
Do you have other stories in the works?
Yup! I signed with Curiosity Quills Press for my YA dystopian Altar of Reality, which is the first book in my Shifted Realities series and tentatively scheduled for release in January. The cover reveal is October 18th. I’m really excited about this series, so I can’t wait to get the ball rolling on it! Here’s a bit more about the plot:
When sixteen year-old Madeline has her first grand mal seizure, she awakens in a world torn apart by World War III. Her enemies wear the faces of loved ones, and she finds allies in unlikely places. As she flips between realities, her connection to the war-torn world grows stronger and she’s thrust into the growing rebellion against the Lord Commander. Now she finds herself torn between two versions of the same boy, and the lines between her realities begin to blur as she struggles to save her lives in both worlds.
I wrote a blog about self-doubt being a new demon I encountered. Do you have any writing demons?
Self-doubt is a HUGE one. When I’m actually writing a story, I’m fine. But when it comes time to edit it, or market it, or someone I know is about to read it? That’s when I really start doubting myself. I try not to give too much volume to those worries, and that’s basically how I deal with them. I don’t look at bad reviews with any more weight than good reviews, but I do get giddy when a reader sends me a Facebook message and actually wants to chat with me. I try to let those moments have weight more than reviews or sales, because to me, those moments make it all worthwhile. Even still, I’ll always say that I’m a much better story teller than I am writer. I don’t think Stephen King himself could convince me otherwise, even knowing how tough a critic he is on mainstream literature (Hey, I liked The Hunger Games, so I agree to disagree with him on Suzanne Collins).
If someone wrote a book about your life, who would star as you in the movie version?
Jennifer Lawrence! No, Emma Stone! No, make me British and let Emily Blunt have a crack at it. In all seriousness, hopefully someone funny since I like to think I’m witty. And hopefully it has nothing to do with Lifetime. My life might read like a Lifetime movie of the week at times, but that doesn’t mean I want to see it that way. 😉
Favorite recipe you’d like to share
Chocolate pecan pie. I make it just about every Christmas for my family’s Christmas party. It’s sugar coma inducing, but I love it.
ABOUT THE HEIRS OF WAR SERIES
The NA fantasy series Heirs of War has taken Wattpad by storm with over one million reads, and the second installment has arrived. Catch up on Heirs of War (#1) for just 99 cents now!
Heirs of War #1:
When seventeen year-old Zelene finds herself thrust into a world of magic and prophecy, she discovers fighting destiny might not be the toughest battle she has to face. Now she must join with three other girls, complete strangers linked only by blood relation, to fight a war they know nothing of and rescue the twin sister she’s never met.
Add it to Goodreads
The adventure continues with Heirs of War, Crown of Flames…
Heirs of War, Crown of Flames
Heirs of War #2
Cover Art by Gretchen Byers
Weeks have passed since Ariana and Alec escaped from Kellen’s dungeon, but danger isn’t far behind them. The guilt of his past weighs heavily on Alec’s shoulders, and his secrets only push Ariana further away. As they travel through unknown lands and encounter multiple threats, their biggest challenge might be trusting one another.
The world appears to be going on regardless of the risks Ariana faces. The Duillaine insist that they are doing everything they can to find Ariana, but their actions betray that claim. Despite the danger and the war closing in around them, all of Anscombe seems to be more interested in the upcoming Imbolc festival and Terrena’s betrothal than rescuing Ariana.
Tired of waiting for the Duillaine to help her twin, Zelene starts plotting on her own and finds a surprising ally in Rhaya, even as the Cynewards prepare to make a move of their own. But Zelene’s plans go awry when she finds herself with a new ability, a mysterious new friend, and more enemies within the walls of Anscombe than she thought.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she’s more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.
Find Mara Online:
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Want to follow this blog tour? Check out the calendar below!
|Krystal Wade||Margo Bond Collins||Here is What I Read Book Blog|
|Vicki Trask||Jessa Russo||Lorraine Harvey|
|Priya Kanaparti||Nerd Girl Official||Terry’s Book Addiction|
|Ali Dean||Shooting Star Book Reviews|
|Tuesday 10/14||Wednesday 10/15||Thursday 10/16|
|Ali Dean (Review)||Jan Farnworth (Review)||James Wymore (Guest Post)|
|Terry’s Book Addiction (Review)||Jamie Ayres (Promo)|
|Friday 10/17||Saturday 10/19||Monday 10/20|
|Emma Adams (Interview)||Laveda Kasch (Excerpt #1)||Eliza Tilton (Excerpt #2)|
|Elsie Elmore (Interview)||Jessa Russo (Excerpt #3)|
|Cait Spivey (Guest Post)||Shooting Star Book Reviews (Excerpt #4)|
|Here is What I Read (Interview)|
|Tuesday 10/21||Wednesday 10/22||Thursday 10/23|
|Michael Panush (Review)||Book Lover Blog (Review)||Ayden Morgen (Guest Post)|
|Friday 10/24||Monday 10/27||Tuesday 10/28|
|K. L. Schwengel (Guest Post)||Katie Teller (Interview)||Priya Kanaparti (Guest Post)|
|Charity Bradford (Excerpt #5)||Sharon Bayliss (Review)|
|Vicki Trask (Review)|
|Sarah Anderson (Interview)|